Client Interview: Charlie Maclean on Writing Dual Timelines

Sophie Playle

I recently caught up with a past client to see how he was getting on, and he kindly agreed to talk about his experience publishing his book.

SP: Tell everyone a little bit about your novel, Unforgettable. What’s it about and what inspired you to write it?

CM: It’s a love story between a lawyer and an actress with a Sliding Doors concept and set in contemporary London. It’s about love, loss, fate and, ultimately, redemption. I wanted to explore the romantic notion that there is one person out there for all of us.

SP: It was a really interesting structure to work on, with the two timelines. So, what made you decide to hire an editor and what made you choose me?

CM: I think all writers need editors, or some kind of feedback on their work, to ensure it’s as best as it can possibly be. I chose you because

you were a highly experienced editor, as well as super-friendly and encouraging. I feel very lucky to have worked with you and your edits always exceeded my expectations.

SP: Aw, thank you. You were also a pleasure to work with. Did your expectations of working with an editor differ much from reality, or was the process what you expected?

CM: I explained what I was trying to achieve and sent you my manuscript. You edited the manuscript expertly and returned it with improvements and notes. From memory, you came back to me a couple of times during the edit to clarify a few details. The process was as expected, and a greatly beneficial, as well as enjoyable, experience.

SP: Unforgettable has a fantastic design, including a printed fore-edge (the unbound edge of the book’s pages opposite the spine). Was getting a professional design a priority? And do you have any words of wisdom to share about working with a designer?

CM: I had a unique experience as the designer is a friend; she’s commissioned by publishers and doesn’t work directly with authors. However; yes, I felt it was vital to get the best cover possible and one that captured the spirit of the book.

In terms of cover design, I would say it’s important to consider the genre of the book and to ensure the cover looks great as a thumbnail image; particularly if the majority of sales are anticipated to be digital.

SP: Good advice. Unforgettable has gained some fab media attention. How did you go about marketing your novel? What worked best for you? Are you planning to try any new marketing techniques in the future?

CM: I initially used a book PR company to approach media publications which led to some national press. However, I think I could have done a lot more online via social media and adverts of some kind. I intend to for the next book, or would expect the publisher do so. To be honest, a lot of sales have come more recently – a year after publication – through word of mouth.

My social media, and planned YouTube channel, I’m doing because I love interacting with other writers and readers; anything book related I’m crazily passionate about. However, I am hoping when my next book comes out that my increased social media presence will mean that readers who enjoy my work will know I have a new book out and others who might enjoy it can find it much more easily.

SP: Sounds good. I think it’s important to remember that it can take time for books (and authors) to become known; it often takes several books before the sales start building significantly. Are you writing anything new at the moment?

CM: I’m almost half way through the first draft of a new novel. It’s another love story but this time set in Brighton, on the south coast of England.  I’m very excited about it but there’s lots of hard work to be done to get it finished.

I’m also working on a film script for Unforgettable. I’ve a guest blog being published on the website about my love of reading and I’m writing vlog scripts for a book-inspired YouTube channel I’m starting.

SP: That sounds like fun! What piece of writing advice would you give your younger self?

CM: Prioritise your writing. Try to spend at least as much time writing as you spend thinking about your writing!

SP: Where can we find out more about you and your work?

CM: My social media links and to Watestones and Amazon etc. are on my website Unforgettable is also on the Neilsen database and so can be ordered from any bookshop worldwide.

SP: Thanks, Charlie!

Sophie Playleis a professional fiction editor. She specialises in developmental editing, critiquing and copy-editing, and loves working with authors and publishers who are passionate about high-quality storytelling. Speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction are her genres of choice. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more:

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