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What to Do With My Mother's Book?

Louis_vii_and_alienorWhat to do with my mother's book? She died seven years ago, on Halloween. I'm finally at peace with it, and I feel like doing something meaningful.

Before the dementia made it impossible, she wrote a novel. A whopper. 330,000 words. "Isobelle", set in the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Isobelle is launched into life in France, and as is appropriate to a woman of high breeding, goes through several husbands in her life, and has adventures in which she is taken by Barbary pirates and sold into a harem, then more travels, and eventual retirement at a satisfactory old age.

It's not the kind of thing I read regularly, so I'm not the right person to judge its merits. Looking at it as a manuscript, I see plenty of room for edits, taking out some florid info-dumpery, for example, and it breaks into several parts, so breaking it into separate novels is an option.

But I got thinking.... A lot of you out there in f-list land know this stuff better than I. What do YOU think I should do with it?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)
If you're prepared to invest time and money: have it read by someone who understands both the genre and the current state of publishing. (The world abounds with freelance editors with experience in both these fields. You will probably have to pay them for a professional assessment, unless you number one among your friends - and even then you should offer to do so.) If their assessment is favourable, then have it professionally edited - again for a fee (and possibly by a different editor, to save yourself from any feeling of "they only said it was worth publishing so that I would pay them to do the work") - and put out in the marketplace in e-formats and print-on-demand (probably as three books), with good cover art. If you go that route, be prepared to seek and gather a lot of advice from a lot of people all along the way.

Alternatively, keep the manuscript close and treasure it as a personal private object.
Nov. 2nd, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
He beat me to it. Everything.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Chaz, Sherwood. I certainly agree that getting an editor to take a serious look at it would be worthwhile. I think I need to take the time to find one, though, who has a background in that era. Part of me will always know that this part here was inspired by watching The Lion in Winter, and that part over there was something she picked up from Amy Kelly. I also remember how, as her personality changed through the last years, the parts of the story that stuck, including a terrible crush on Richard Lionheart. So I think that part will always be my own memory.

But I also know she really wanted to get it out there and share what she loved about Eleanor's life. I think she identified strongly with her and drew on her for strength when she was feeling awkward in a strange land. So I really ought to give it a try. Ideally, I need to find somebody who has a similar affinity.

Clearly something worth taking the time to do properly.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, I can tell you there is a readership for books about Eleanor!
Nov. 2nd, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
I wish I had a good answer for you, but it must be amazing to see inside your mother's mind like that. I know my late father wrote at least a first draft of a novel at some stage and I'd love to see it.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 06:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, I need to sit down and give it a serious read, instead of dabbling into it while converting it over from her old wordprocessor (one of those all-in-one machines from the early nineties). I'm just glad I was able to recover it. It would be gone by now if I hadn't.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )