Friday, 26 October 2007

Reading a Manuscript Part One

There’s lots of rubbish that goes with being a publisher, but there’s two bits of the job that always remind me why I put up with the gubbins. The first is that moment when a completed manuscript arrives on your doorstep, or, in this case, inbox. And when it turns up like Dave’s book has, unexpectedly early, it’s a double bonus. The Bromley Boys has been sat on my desk for a couple of days, mouthing ‘read me…’ while I’ve been having to go to various meetings and waiting for a chunk of clear time to read the book.
When a manuscript comes in, I like to read it twice – the first time, quickly, as I would read normally for pleasure. I am, I suspect, not the world's greatest reader: my wife describes me as possessing ‘summit fever’ – that urgency to get to the end of the book to find out what happens, without taking a breath to stop and look at the view on the way. And it’s true – I do have a tendency to hurtle through the pages. But I think that it’s important when a book comes in to try to read a manuscript as I would read a normal one – to have my natural reaction as a reader in the back of my mind as I edit. Once I’ve got the reader's ‘feel’ of the book, then I go back to the beginning and read for a second time, but this time at a slower pace and far more thoroughly.
My initial reader’s reaction to The Bromley Boys? I loved it. There’s bits I’ll want Dave to work on, and I’ll tease these out on my second read, but the big picture is that it's funny and sad and hangs together as a proper book, which is no mean achievement -- Dave should be really proud of what he's done. There are certainly manuscripts that come in and leave you thinking, 'Blimey, I don't even know where to start with this one'. But this is one of the good ones -- now it's time to read it again, and my second favourite part of the job: working with the author to make a good book even better.

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