Author Terry Quinn has got the scoop
IT IS more than a year ago since Seniors Newspaper reported on Terry Quinn's new life journey after retirement from a four-decade career in newspaper publishing. Rather than play golf in retirement, the 66 year-old Noosa resident wrote his first novel, The Scoop, a gripping action-packed thriller.
Once the hard work of writing the novel was over, and the celebrations of it being so quickly accepted for global publication by Simon & Schuster had quietened, it was a case of keeping the head down for yet more hard work. Finally, almost 18 months after acceptance, The Scoop is in bookshops all over the country, and we asked Terry what the waiting, editing, and marketing process was like. He gives us these insights for all would-be authors.
How long does it take from acceptance of manuscript to the book being out there?
In my case, a long time. From March 2017 until August 2018. Partly because my publishers, Simon & Schuster decided that the optimum time to launch The Scoop was just in advance of Father's Day. So, one of the first things I learnt as a would-be novelist is that book publishing is a glacial process. Contrast that to daily newspapers - 100 pages from scratch. Every day. And then we'd rip it up and do it all over again the following day.
Was it a frustrating time, or a lot of fun...and a learning curve?
So yeah, it was frustrating at times, but I still loved the whole painstaking process - the forensic critiques, the rewrites, the editing ... even the final line-by-line proofreading. One of the first things I said to my chief editor, Roberta 'Bert' Ivers, is that while I knew everything there was to know about newspaper editing, I was a virgin author and was in her hands when it came to books. She and my other editor, Deonie Fiford, were incredibly talented and knowledgeable people who taught me valuable lessons about pace, structure and dramatic tension. My only complaint was that, by the time we came to the editing of The Scoop, I was already well advanced with my second novel, The Editor. So I had to go back to the beginning of book two and start again with the knowledge I had gained.
Who chose the front cover?
It was a joint decision with the guys at Simon & Schuster. I submitted a number of sketches but, and here's a secret - they suggested changing the title (from Hell on the Horizon) and even my name (from Terry Quinn.) They said the longer version 'sounded more authoritative. Their designers came up with the brilliant (I think) cover. Bert and her crew are vastly experienced international book publishers so I just went with the flow. However, while they pushed and prodded me to change certain things, they made it clear that the final decision was always mine.
One of the first comments they made was that the early manuscript was too long for the action/adventure genre ... can you please cut 20,000 words. As you can imagine, I nearly choked. But, in the end, I actually cut out 30,000 words and wrote in a fresh 10,000 words of action sequences and dialogue. The result is a faster-paced, slicker storyline.
And your new website?
Even old dogs like me must learn new tricks. For an author, that means social media and an online presence are essential. But I draw the line at Twitter - I'd end up like a certain US president and make a Twit of myself.
What now, now the book is out there? Does the hard work really begin, interviews, book launches?
The only formal launch is in Noosa, where I can rely on a few friends and family to turn up. As a debut author, I expect only a man and his dog would turn up to an event in Sydney or Melbourne. Maybe we'll do that with book two next year.
This is your first book, written after you retired when most people would be thinking of relaxing, what is the future?
I am lucky to have this as a second career. A chance to continue living in the world of words after a lifetime in newspapers. As I've said, The Editor comes out next year, followed by book three (provisionally titled The Hack). All three feature Aussie journalist Jonno Bligh and his partner Annie. Sitting at my desk in Noosa, I am having a lot of fun developing their characters and chronicling their adventures. Long after that, I hope to continue telling stories, as long as people want to read them.
The Scoop is now available from most bookstores ($29.99) as well as Amazon Kindle and Apple ibooks ($9.99). More information: www.terencejquinn.com.au.