You sign a publishing contract. Your manuscript goes behind a curtain, the publisher waves a magic wand, and BAM! A finished book, right?
Let me start by saying I knew better than that. But I’d like to share a few things authors might be asked to address after the structural editing is completed. Even if you’ve spent a great deal of time on them already, a little more won’t hurt.
!. Characters’ names: Are they different enough from one another so as not to confuse the reader? (My main character’s surname has changed from Thibodeaux to Robichaud, because Thibodeaux was similar to Chanceaux, the dog’s name.) Are they interesting without being too weird or difficult to remember? Are they rare enough or common enough or at least not the names of well-known public figures or celebrities?
2. Word Choice in Dialogue, Internal Monologue, and Narrative: Does every word and phrase spoken or thought by each character sound appropriate for that character? Are the vocabulary and sentence structure in the narrative appropriate for your target audience? Are you willing to “kill your darlings”?
3. Setting and Scene Details: If your novel’s setting is one with which you are familiar, are you careful about details? Do any need to include further clarification because the average reader will not be familiar with the setting? Do your scenes contain enough sensory detail to make them both believable and appropriate to your setting?
3. Blurbs, Back Cover Copy, and Bio: Can the book be summed up in three short sentences–or two–or one? There will be a need for descriptive copy of various lengths, for the cover and for marketing purposes. In your bio, can you portray yourself succinctly and make it sound interesting enough for readers to care about you? (Do you have a good photo of yourself?)
This by no means is meant to be a comprehensive list, but I hope it gets you thinking about the little things before that big break comes your way. Then you will enjoy it even more.