Labor Pains

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle is my debut novel. It took me five years to write and another year to find a good home with UK publisher, Linen Press. That’s not bad in the great scheme of things, but it felt like forever to me.

Here’s a blow by blow, from the final manuscript to the printers. If you’re interested in how editing works, see Ping-Pong: The Editing Process, the blog post my publisher and editor Lynn Michell and I wrote together, or my piece on character folding. If you want to know about on the publication of The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, now only a matter of days away, go to the Launch page.

galley sheets

Today is 25 January 2017 and we’re in the second round of proofreading the galley sheets. It’s amazing how easy technology has made this process. The typeset manuscript arrives in my Dropbox folder in the form of a PDF. I mark it up on-line using the comment screen. My publisher agrees or disagrees. There’s a handy checkbox to tick when the comment has been “resolved”, at which time the comment turns green. When all the comments are green, the typesetter works her magic and voila a new version appears.

It’s also frightening how hard it is get this right. After a while, you can’t see the letters anymore let alone the stray commas. But we’re close to done!


First things first. Just last night (9 January 2017), I signed off on the final text of this novel manuscript. The document will soon be winging its way to the typesetter. She will create the files needed to produce the ebook and print-on-demand paperback versions of my novel. Then comes the dreaded proofreading before The Dancing Girl and the Turtle can go into actual production. I’m going to take the advice of my friend, Tori Egherman, who tells me that the best proofreader she ever knew is to read her manuscripts backward.

cover design

Pre-publication version of book cover
Book cover mockup

Next: the book cover. I was stunned to learn about all the elements involved. Graphics versus illustration versus photography. Colors for the letters and the background. Fonts, fonts, fonts.

It was pretty much a no-brainer to choose this fabulous image as the book cover. A picture’s worth a thousand words and this one captures the fragile grace of my main character Song Anyi.

Much more difficult was the choice of font, i.e. the letters to use for the title, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, and where to place them on the page. What author knows about fonts? With the help of the aforementioned Tori and my whiz kid son Mark, we managed to find something gorgeous, don’t you think? A hint of the Art Deco period during which the story takes place plus a lovely dancing movement to the words.

The publication version of the novel is going to be even better, including an author photo on the back cover, courtesy of my friend, the multi-talented Maurits Bos.

london book fair

Where my novel will be offered for foreign publication
London Book Fair

In the meantime, as the manuscript and the cover are transmogrified into a real live book, the work load shifts toward marketing. There’s the B2C market where readers like you and me buy books. And there’s the B2B market where one publisher sells the foreign publication rights to another publisher.

Hence the creation of what’s called an Advance Information Sheet. Why do I need this? Because The Dancing Girl and the Turtle is going to the London Book Fair! From 14-16 March 2017, agent Hannah Whitaker of the Rights People will be offering the foreign rights to my novel to publishers outside the UK. Keep your fingers crossed and pray for rain!

press release

Finally, we’re on the hunt for reviewers. We’ll taken them print or on-line. In Asia and America, the UK and the Netherlands. Anyone who’ll read my book and post a review, an excerpt, an interview or a plain old shout-out for The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. Here’s my DIY press kit, consisting of a Press Release with extracts, an Author Information and Contact Sheet with all the nitty, gritty details.