Thursday 29 October 2020

Guest Blog - Editing Process Q&A - Richard Wall

Kicking off the Guest Blog series, on editing processes in traditional or small press publishing, is author Richard Wall

I chose Richard because today is launch day for his second novel, Near Death published by Burning Chair Publishing. Congratulations! (see details after the interview).

Born in England in 1962, Richard grew up in a small market town in rural Herefordshire before joining the Royal Navy. After 22 years in the submarine service and having travelled extensively, Richard now lives and writes in rural Worcestershire.

His first short story, “Evel Knievel and The Fat Elvis Diner” (available on Kindle), was soon followed by “Five Pairs of Shorts” a collection of ten short stories, another short story called “Hank Williams’ Cadillac” and his latest novel, “Near Death.”

Richard’s stories reflect his life-long fascination with the dark underbelly of American culture, be it tales of the Wild West, or of the simmering menace of the Deep South, or the poetry of Charles Bukowski, or the writing of Langston Hughes, or the music of Charley Patton, Son House, Johnny Cash, or Tom Waits.

So here goes:

Do you send a proposal before a book is accepted? Do you send in an outline first and get that okayed or do you go straight to the full draft?

I try to keep within the guidelines of the publisher / agent that I’m sending to - some ask for the full MS, some for the first 3 chapters or 20k words.

Do you do several drafts before you send it to the publisher for editing, or do you just send the first draft?

Usually I write the MS, leave it for a while (couple of weeks) then go back and look for typos, inconsistencies etc. I may have a couple more read throughs before sending.

How many times do you go back and forth with the editor (on average) - does it vary with the publisher or with the story?

My most recent novel, Near Death, went through two major changes after I sent it to the publisher. There was a major developmental edit, followed by another edit after Beta readers had made their comments.

What kind of changes/suggestions do they make? Are they just minor ones or are they major?

Major ones were:

  • inconsistencies/confusion in the timeline of events
  • suggested changes to dialogue to make it more realistic and in keeping with the personality/setting/situation of the character - basically making it sound like how people actually speak
  • I wrote a character with a similar name to the protagonist, and two other characters whose names were similar to each others. It was pointed out this might cause confusion. 

Minor ones included keeping the use of language consistent - the story is set in the US, narrated by an American so the spelling etc had to be ‘Americanised’. Also a particular crime scene detail involving the death of a child was removed, which, on reflection was a good call.

Does it go through various stages, like developmental, copy editing and then proofing? Or is it straight into copy and proofing? Or again, does that vary on book and publisher?

With Burning Chair (my publisher) it was developmental, copy editing, review by beta readers and then final proofing.

What would you say best practice is in regards to accepting/rejecting edits - is there always a discussion, or do you feel you have to accept all/some of them?

Try to keep an open mind, be polite and don’t be precious :) With Burning Chair I accepted most of their suggestions. If I disagreed with a suggestion (which I did a couple times) I gave an explanation why, we had a brief back and forth until the matter was resolved. I think there has to be trust on both sides; you have to trust the publisher that their suggestions come from a good place, and they have to trust that you know what you are writing about :)

Do you find it hard to embrace the suggestions/changes given?

No, not at all. But then, I’ve been lucky in that Pete and Simon at Burning Chair ‘get’ my writing and can see the bigger picture of the story I’m telling, so the suggestions they make all go to improve that story - which is what it’s all about. That’s very important.

Thanks so much for taking part in this blog series.

One last question, what projects you are currently working on?

My next project will be to complete the final short story in the Beelzebub Jones Trilogy - a collaboration between myself and ace musician Half Deaf Clatch. After that I have plans for a paperback compilation of all my shorts stories and occasional poetry. This will carry the working title: ’Nicotine, Liquor and Blasphemy’.



"See you on the other side, Preacher Man."

 These are the last words of Joseph Hickey, a psychopath executed at Sing Sing prison for the murder of the Howell family in New York State. 

 After giving the last rites and watching Hickey die, troubled prison chaplain John Henry Beauregard quits his job to start a new life in the Appalachian Mountains.

 Hickey's death should have been the end of the nightmare, but then another family is murdered in identical circumstances, and John Henry is called back to New York to give the last rites to the killer.

 As the killings continue, John Henry is drawn into a mystery with devastating consequences. 

 Is it possible to commit murder from beyond the grave?

 Can John Henry stop the endless cycle of torment and solve the mystery before it is too late?  

Available at, Amazon and all good bookstores.

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