Reaching the end – Patricia Wilson

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By Patricia Wilson

So, you type that last full stop, hit ‘caps lock’ and write THE END. There’s a bottle of something sparkling in the fridge to match your mood. It’s been an amazing ride. All you need now is an agent, yes, then you can relax and bask in the glory.


Prepare yourself for a completely different experience, it’s called: hard graft. The manuscript gets you an agent. The agent gets you a publisher. The publisher consists of a huge team of professionals each of whom is determined to turn your novel into a roaring success. The first bout of editing will seem endless, strengthening some characters, dropping others, perhaps changing the storyline, or the ending. And I thought editors took care of commas. When you’re done, your editor will pass the new draft to another editor to read with fresh eyes. More changes.

This final draft will go for copy-editing to check consistency in style, look for repetitions, and make suggestions and cuts. The document is then returned to you for assessment and approval. At this point you are accepting, or rejecting suggestions.

Then you receive the ‘first page proofs’ for review. This is your last chance to make any changes to the text. At this point a proof-reader will simultaneously be checking for mistakes, repetitions, and text inconsistencies that might have crept in.

Shortly after completing the ‘first page proofs’, you will have the proof-reader’s queries to answer – and once you have – you’re done… surely? After all, by this time you have read the entire manuscript between ten and fifteen times.


The promotional department are waiting for your attention. They will help to spruce up your website, your Facebook page, your Twitter, your every public image. They will create the cover, and banners for your online presence, everything you need to become a ‘brand’.

Seeming to wait for the moment you are most under pressure, various, highly respected, book bloggers queue up for 500 words about this or that. And a few substantial women’s magazines request a short story, a life experience, or a perfectly executed piece of flash fiction.

Don’t reach for the wine glass until you have sorted your accounts, filled in the public lending library forms, had a photograph done for your back cover, and written your acknowledgment page. Wow! At last you can relax, but just as you pop that cork, the phone rings. Congratulations? No. It’s your agent reminding you about the two-book contract. ‘Will you have the second novel finished in six weeks time?’

Patricia Wilson lived in the village of Amiras in Crete where her debut novel, Island of Secrets, is set. She was inspired to write when she unearthed a machine gun in her garden – one used in the events that unfolded in September 1943, and much of the novel is based on real stories told to her by the oldest women of Amiras. Women who’ve never spoken of their experiences before. Patricia still spends much of her time in Greece.

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