I have nearly finished with the edits, and the final copy of the novel should be ready in the upcoming days.
I hope the reading of the end result will flow better after having trimmed the word count. I am also in the process of formatting the manuscript for submission to the online publishers and annexing new pages such as the acknowledgements, copyright, and "about the author" sections (what the hell am I going to put in the latter?!).
On another note, I have finally chosen the title. I'm 99% sure I will use it, but I'll only announce what it is when I reach the 100% threshold. Sorry to keep you waiting, but it's a big commitment. Once you've made the title public, there's no turning back.
I have found help for the book cover. Mastering image formatting software is simply beyond me. So a kind friend has come in to design something decent for me. I have also secured permission to use two photos and I'm sure they will look good on the cover. They should reflect the darkness of the gritty world I have written about. My friend is currently working on the project and I'll soon be able to see the first samples of what he is doing. This is exciting!
Online publishers have templates for book covers and I could have easily opted for one of those. However, I think it is important though to produce something which leaves a visual impression and not a generic, bland, and easily-forgotten cover. My cover needs to convey some kind of crime fiction imagery, without exaggerating too much and being 'giallo'. That way the reader can easily categorize the book and not be tricked into reading a sci-fi or erotic fiction novel, for instance.
Sure, my book will only be available online and these comments apply mainly to books in retail stores, but it's crucial to try and stand out.