Amy Woods on All the Little Things that Make a Harlequin Special Edition

Amy Woods photoWe all know that writing the actual story is the hard part–but to become a final, finished book on the shelves or in a store, there is often a lot more going on behind the scenes. Amy Woods–her first book is coming out in September from Special Edition–gives us her impressions of the next stage of the process….

Now what??

Thanks so much for having me back on the blog today. I’m happy and honored to be here talking about the final stages of HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY, my first manuscript for Special Edition.

For many writers, finishing a manuscript is the best part of the writing process. Typing “The End” brings a satisfying thrill after a long and challenging journey. But in the reality of publishing, the end of a manuscript is only the beginning. My previous posts have walked you through the stages that follow submission—the polishing and buffing that happen before a book is ready to make its debut on the shelf. Now that we’ve worked through revisions and line edits, adding layers and smoothing things out, we’re ready to put a shiny coat on the manuscript and to include a few very special final touches.

Author’s alterations, commonly abbreviated as “AAs,” refer to any final changes that the author decides to make to the manuscript before production—in other words, the last chance to review the manuscript. At this point—after the author and editor have agreed to line and copy edits and the resulting corrections—ideally, there aren’t too many changes that need to be made.

This was the case for AAs of HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY. After all of the hard work, I finally had a chance to see my story set in the way it would appear in book form, and I read it through just like readers (hopefully!) will. Let me tell you, it was so exciting to see the book at this stage. I think the AAs were the first time I thought, “Huh. This is really going to be a book—it has page numbers and everything!”

After I approved and returned the AAs, Carly, my editor, asked me to start thinking about a few other important things: my author bio, dedication, and Dear Reader letter. You would think the bio would be easy, but it’s kind of hard to narrow yourself down to a few sentences. It’s very much like meeting someone for the first time. You’ve lived an entire life before you shake that person’s hand, but if he or she asks about your life, you certainly don’t want to overwhelm them with everything all at once, so you narrow it down a little, hitting only a few key points. For me, because I’m interested in learning about the kinds of careers people get into and what they like to do for fun, I wrote a little about my work history and how it led to becoming a writer, and about my love of movies.

I also wrote briefly about two very important parts of my life: my husband and our sweet rescue dog. And of course, because I am very much looking forward to hearing from readers, I added my website, where I have further information about my books and a way to contact me.

The dedication page was easy-peasy and such a pleasure. I gave a shout-out to my amazing editor for her belief in my writing, and a nod to my mom and hubby for supporting my dream of becoming an author. To me, the dedication page is, quite simply, a place to say “thank you” to those who supported me while I created the book.

And—last but not least—the Dear Reader letter. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about opening up a new Harlequin series romance is that little note from the author at the front (or sometimes the back) of the book. Dear Reader letters are as diverse as the authors who write them, but they usually give insight into what inspired the story and what the author learned while writing it. Carly left it up to me to decide what I wanted to include, and, after reading through a few of my favorite examples, I set to work. HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY is about starting over, second chances, and finding home. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to work through one or more of those things, including me, so my letter allows the reader to see my connection to my characters, hopefully giving a little background into why I love them so much, and why their story matters.

That’s all for now! I hope this post gives you further insight into the publication process and what it’s like to work through the last few stages of getting a book ready to go out into the world. As always, questions are welcome. Thanks again, so much, for joining me. 🙂 Next time, we’ll be talking about covers and back cover copy!

Now you’ve got us curious about your Dear Reader letter–just about two more months to go!

Don’t forget to keep up with Amy’s adventures on her website or on Twitter, where she is @AmyWoodsBooks. Her editor can be found on Twitter as @CarlyASilver. 

And don’t forget to check out our new page for  Writing Guidelines for specifics for each line, or visit the Harlequin Community!