infernaldevices97 asked you:
Hi :) I am very excited for CP2 and I want to read it as soon as I can. I just want to ask what the publishing process is, and why it’s gonna take so long before CP2 is released? And if there’s a chance that it’s gonna be released a tiny bit earlier? :D
Oh, you are going to be so sorry you asked, because the answer is SO BORING. But I will do my best to lay it out, scheduling and all.
It’s actually not at all a long time between my turning in Clockwork Princess and it being published. I turned in City of Bones in July of 2005. It was published in March of 2007. That’s more normal.
So it’s July 5, basically, that Clockwork Princess gets turned in. My editor has to take it, read it, and edit it, which means reading the whole book for inconsistencies, places the plot needs punching up or changing — as an editor you have to read with a whole gestalt eye toward the story, and make notes, and then type up typically a five to ten page letter instructing me on what works and what doesn’t and what needs to be changed and why and how, etc.
You don’t need to take all your editor’s changes, but as someone very smart once said (I think it was Neil Gaiman) if someone tells you what is wrong with your story, they are almost 100% likely to be right that something is wrong, though they may not be right about how to fix it. So if K tells me there’s something wrong with the story, I believe her, and I may take her way of fixing it or I might make my own. More on that in a bit.
It will general take my editor about a month to edit a book the size of mine. That’s a standard, reasonable time. Skimping on the time it takes to edit a book is not a good idea for the book. Editing is important!
She gives it back to me, then, the first week of August. I take six weeks to revise the book. That is because this is a very long book, and that is how long revisions take. Revisions often call for, say, unkilling a character who you killed in chapter 3. You have to unkill them and create a plotline for them and weave it through the rest of the book without destroying the plot of the book as is. Huge portions of the John Shade/Aloysius Starkweather plot in Clockwork Prince were created in revisions. I typically wind up cutting 20,000 words and writing between 30,000 and 50,000 new words in revisions. 50,000 words is a novel. Six weeks is again, a standard, even short, amount of time for this.
We’re now in the middle of September. I give the book back. It goes to the copyeditor. You do not want to read a book that has not been copyedited. Typos, misplaced pronouns, missing commas, mispelled words, no formatting. It’s not worth the three to four weeks the copyeditor needs to read every single sentence with incredible precision to make sure it’s correct. Not to mention that since this is a historical novel, she also has to check the historical facts.
So I get the copyedits and go through them to approve the changes. This is also my last chance to add anything to the books. You don’t want to skip this step either. Even the best copyeditors can make mistakes (correcting all the instances of “faeries” to “fairies”, or removing the capitals from every instance of “Silent Brothers”), or cut things out of the book because they don’t realize they’re important to later books. If I don’t check over this stuff, the mistakes will stay, and they’ll annoy you.
So seven weeks have passed now and we’re at the beginning of November. Any normal book would have shipped to the printer ages ago. Clockwork Princess is on what they call a “crash schedule” which means they are racing through production, every single-turn in date has to be hit or it’s a serious disaster. There are no ARCs or advance copies of this book — there’s no time to print them. The book should already be at the printer (printers are overseas, the books have to be shipped back to the US, so printing ahead of schedule is very important. Also, the printer’s time has to be reserved in advance, so if you miss that deadline, you’ll have to wait for their next opening) but it’s not.
Instead, it’s being keyboarded. Someone has to take this whole manuscript, on which all the copyeditor’s changes and my changes have been written in pencil, and type the entire thing in. Then that typed in text has to be laid out in book form by the graphic designer. Someone has to lay out the book, as in design what it’s going to look like and add the chapter titles and the designs at the top and bottom of the pages. It has to be done at this stage, because only when it’s back from copyedits do we have an actual idea how long the book is going to be.
We’re in mid-November now, and I get what they call the 1P — first-pass proof pages. The book is laid out to look like a book. I get this one last chance to read it over, as does my editor, and make any final changes. At this point the changes have to be small, because otherwise you risk running over the length that the book has been laid out to be. But I have caught HUGE mistakes in proofs, and so has my editor. Again, a step you cannot skip.
So I give back the proof pages, and my editor does, and then the proofreader (not the copyeditor) reads both the copyedited and the proofed pages side by side to make sure all the changes are made, because my editor and I are both blind exhausted of looking at this thing and someone needs to check every single change and it shouldn’t be us. Again, mistakes are always caught in this stage. Usually I’ll get a page or two of proof questions about inconsistencies or complicated bits of dialogue or foreign languages that have to be okayed.
Finally, that’s done. We’re in the middle of December. The book can finally ship to the printer. Of course, it will be held up by the holidays, so reasonably it’ll probably arrive at the printer in January. Since it publishes in March, that means the printer has barely eight weeks to print 500,000 books and ship them from Asia to Canada and the Unites States.
So I would say there’s no chance of the book being published earlier — it’s a miracle it’s being published when it is. The original publishing date was September of next year. S&S has managed the March date by crushing their production schedule unbelievably (as I wasn’t willing to take less time to write or revise the book, or have my editor take less time to revise it, because that way lies a really bad book, and I do not want to give you guys a really bad book. I want to make sure what I give you is the best effort I could give and if that means extra weeks here or there, better a book I think is the best I could make it in March than a book I know could have been better if I’d had more time to work on it in February.)
[Also, if you look at the above, you can pretty much work through why City of Heavenly Fire is being published in March of 2014: that’s still a crash schedule, there still won’t be any ARCs, and that still has me turning in the draft of Heavenly Fire in July 2013, only eight months after I finished actually writing Clockwork Princess. Eight months to write a 150,000 word book is not a lot of time.]
heronwoods asked you:
can I ask, did you cry while writing Clockwork Princess?
Muaha! I did not. On the other hand, I didn’t cry with Clockwork Prince till the revisions. And Holly Black and Kelly Link teared up reading — so that’s step one, making other people cry. Clearly I still have work to do though.
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