Fanquilting: From Book to Quilt

Well, it was my birthday last week, and I wanted to share with you my number one present. For who knows how many hours, my mum has been secretly sewing away to make this amazing quilt inspired by Hidden Dawn.

I’ve long held the belief that my mum can pretty much do anything with a sewing machine. We had a huge trunk full of costumes when I was a kid, and I mean proper costumes, full-blown Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters, all made by her. There is no challenge – no Halloween school disco, no instrument cover, no awning, no yardage of bunting – that she won’t accept. And I’m still trying to process how completely amazing this quilt is.

It is, apparently, in the ‘flying geese’ design, with a teal background on the front and a sky-blue back (my favourite colours). Then she has gone material-scouting to find a range of patterns and colours that reminded her of my book. Around the border is a murky forest floor colour with silhouettes of antlers just visible through the gloom. The geese themselves are then patterns of trees, leaves, flowers and ferns, with water and wind geese, vast blue skies and the fiery oranges of all those sunrises that are endemic in Hidden Dawn. It all combines to bring a patch of Canadian wilderness into my den, and a bit of fiction magic.

I know fans can do extraordinary things to celebrate their favourite books – artwork, fanfiction, craftwork, cosplay – and I love the fact that one act of creativity can spawn a cascade of other acts of creativity. It’s a truly allelomimetic behaviour. The imagination is a contagious thing. But I’m left in no doubt as to who my number one fan is. Thanks, Mum!

Hidden Dawn Gets a Copyedit

Well, it’s taken me an age and a half, but I have finally managed to copyedit my book Hidden Dawn. Funnily enough, I have been unable to do it because I’ve been copyediting other people’s books (my day job)!

Of course, I “proofread” my book before I first published it, but clearly did a rubbish job because there were some very obvious and embarrassing errors in there. My excuse is that I was exhausted from writing it back then and just wanted to get it published and over with, but it’s been a year and a half now, so I’m well refreshed! Also, and I really stress this, YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER COPYEDIT OR PROOFREAD YOUR OWN BOOK. NO MATTER HOW BRILLIANT YOU ARE, YOU WILL NOT SEE EVERYTHING. Even if you get a friend who likes reading to read through your book for typos, this is ten times more effective than doing it yourself. As the creator, you are far FAR too close to the writing. You know what’s happening and what’s coming up, so your brain will do the brilliant thing that human brains do, and make the reading process as efficient as possible by drawing on memories and stored knowledge, and thereby allowing itself to skip over the detail in each sentence. The brain, demonstrating another of its brilliant skills, will do this without making you consciously aware of it, so no matter how hard you concentrate, you will always miss something, and probably several things. Just like I did, and I’m a professional copyeditor!

Do as I say and not as I do, of course, but I am an impoverished freelancer who cannot afford someone to copyedit such a long book. If you are in the same position, like I say, at least get a close friend who is good at English to read it, because they will see things your brain simply will not allow you to see. I do this for a living, however, so I know what I’m looking for and I have learnt to be objective when I need to be. I also have an extremely astute eye for detail. I’m the kind of person who can walk into a room and know exactly what object is out of place from my previous visit. So what I’m trying to say is, my book should be totally error-free now.

The latest version of Hidden Dawn is on Amazon, so it should automatically update on your ereader, but if you want to make sure, just delete it from your library and re-download it from Amazon. Easy peasy.

And please do accept my apologies for those clangers you had to sit through in the old version. I promise I have done a far better job this time around!

Hidden Dawn Paperback

Well, I’m dead excited because I am holding in my hands an actual ink-and-paper copy of my book!

*trumpet fanfare*


My old ebook distributor, Pronoun, are sadly closing down, so this has prodded me to at last join the ranks of the KDP massive. The ebook version of Hidden Dawn is now available, as it ever was, on Amazon, but I’ve also taken the plunge and used KDP’s beta paperback publishing services. I was a little bit daunted, but Amazon being Amazon, they make it very easy for you, giving you templates for internal layouts and cover design.

Previously, I impressed myself by designing my own front cover for the ebook, but now I’m positively glowing with achievement after also designing up my back cover and spine (with a little help from Photoshop!). With the Amazon template, internal typesetting was very easy in Word. You just copy and paste in your content, with a new section for each prelim/endlim and chapter. Then you just have to fiddle about with font, font size, leading, etc. until you have a viable set of spreads.

The only snag is, at £8.99, it’s quite expensive when compared to other paperbacks on Amazon. It’s about £1 more expensive than paperbacks in bookshops, but with Amazon’s loss-leading discounts, the paperback of Hidden Dawn seems uncomfortably dear. I do apologise, but as it’s print on demand (POD), you don’t get the advantage of bulk discount that traditional publishers get. £5 of that price is the cost of printing, and Amazon add 60% of that price as their pocket money, sparing me the few pennies left over in royalties after they’ve creamed off a further 40%. That price is absolutely the lowest I was allowed to go without paying you to buy it. I’m not grumbling because I’d rather readers had the option of a physical copy, if that’s what they prefer. I just wanted to be transparent and explain why it was so expensive. I’m afraid I have no control over that 😦

Overall, I’m really impressed with the quality of the printing. The paper inside is particularly nice when you compare it to the thin rag you get in a lot of mass-market paperbacks these days. The gluing is robust, just like any other paperback, and the text is pin-sharp. I admit I had a few anxieties over the quality of a POD book, and I fully expected to have to make a number of changes after I got a copy actually in my hands, but I can’t see anything that I would actually change. Colour me impressed.

Well done Amazon!