Cuzzie’s real name is Diane, but she is my wife’s cousin and known as ‘Cuzzie’ to one and all. Even our kids called her ‘Auntie Cuzzie’ when they were small. For all that, she is my proofreader because she is nothing short of ruthless when assessing my work – and that is exactly what I need.

I meant to post this a bit earlier because I have had the manuscript back for a week now, but things got in the way. Not least, the fact that it came back with two pages of tightly-written observations, all of which merited my attention.

The value of a proofreader is that he/she can view the text with fresh eyes. Writers are so used to seeing it that even obvious things no longer impact on us. Thus it was that Cuzzie was able to point out details that needed my attention. And there were quite a few of them. Overall, she approved the book, but made it clear that it was perhaps 95% of what it could have been. It is that final 5% that makes all the difference. That is so oiften the case, isn’t it? All it takes to turn something good into something very good is a little bit of tweaking.

Anyway, I have spent much of the past week going through the text meticulously, taking her observations into account and making revisions, as appropriate. Having done all that, I am now working through the whole text – all 125,533 words of it – to ensure that it all runs together smoothly and that the alterations are so seemless that the reader will not be aware of any revisions at all. That is about 10,000 words fewer than it had when the first draft was completed. Trust me, it is better for having those words cut. There may be further cuts before the process is complete, but I don’t think it will reduce the obverall word count significantly. Publication is still about a week away, I think, but the job is almost done. Already my mind is beginning to turn to what my next book will be. I only have a few vague ideas at the moment, but there is the kernel of something brewing at the back of my brain. It will have to wait until this one comes out, though.

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