Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What's taking so long? I want your third book now! (updated)

I've mentioned a few times that there's a third book in my series called The Dark and Hollow Places that is already written and should be coming out Spring 2011.  I honestly can't be more thrilled about the emails I've been getting asking about it and wanting it sooner!*  One question I've been asked a few times is why, since the book is already written, is it taking so long for it to come out?

This is an excellent question and a perfect blog topic :)  The short answer: with all the different aspects involved in how a book if published, it just takes a long time.  When I first sold The Forest of Hands and Teeth (October 2007) and learned it wouldn't be coming out for 17 months (March 2009) I was surprised.  Now I understand how it all works...

So I thought I'd write out the steps involved in getting a book from the author's head into the reader's hands.  This is all from my perspective and if I've gotten something wrong please leave a comment correcting me and I'll make the change!

draft of DTW, ready for work
Step one: author writes and revises the book.  The length of time this takes can vary wildly.

Step two: editor reads and sends edit letter.  It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for an editor to put together a round of edits.  These days editors often handle lots and lots of authors and they tend to focus on the closest season (i.e. they'll generally edit a Fall 2010 book before a Spring 2011 book because it's more pressing).

Step three:  author revises based on editorial letter.  Again this can take days, weeks or months depending on the deadlines and extent of revisions needed.

Step four: repeat.  Sometimes the editor and author might go through several rounds of revisions.

Sam likes to sleep on edits
Step five: line edits.  These are the really detailed edits that get down to the sentence level rather than the plot level.  This is where your editor asks if you made the right word choices, if the scene needs tweaking, etc.  This can again take days, weeks or months depending on deadlines.

Step six: copy-edits.  The manuscript is then sent to copy-editors who pour over the pages with a fine-toothed comb marking inconsistencies, grammar and punctuation errors, flow, etc.  Sometimes a book will be sent to a second copy-editor and then to the editor for review.  Then it's sent to the author to review and then back to the editor to check the author's comments.

copyedits! (each person
uses a diff color)
Step seven: typesetting.  The manuscript is sent to be type set which is the point at which it starts to look like a book.  Sometime before this point all the aspects of the typesetting have already been chosen and designed (what font, the layout of the pages, any chapter headers or symbols between sections).  One thing I never realized is that new errors can be introduced at this stage so if you find a typo in a book, sometimes this is where it happens.

Step eight: proofreading.  The typeset pages (first pass pages) are sent to proofreaders to make sure everything from the manuscript made it into the typeset pages correctly.  Sometimes errors will be typos, strange formatting, etc.  Then the pages go to the editor for review, to the author, back to the editor.

Step nine: Advanced Reader Copies.  Generally I think the ARCs are created from the initial type-set pages BEFORE they've been proofed by anyone.  This is why there can be so many errors in ARCs and also why the ARC isn't always the same as the final book (I rewrote part of the ending of The Dead-Tossed Waves at this stage which is why the end in the ARC isn't the same in the final book).

first pass pages
Step ten: books printed.  The books are then printed and shipped.  Also during this time covers are designed and approved, marketing and publicity departments create plans and put them into action, sales reps and told about the books and go to stores to sell them.  TONS of stuff goes on behind the scenes.

Updated to add: as Melissa Marr points out in the comments, the "marketing and publicity plans are created, implemented, etc" phase of the process happens throughout all of these steps, not just at the end.

So there's a fairly lengthy process involved in each book which is why, even though The Dark and Hollow Places is written, it's not nearly close to being ready for publication.  But I'm super stoked y'all are excited about reading it!


* I read every email I receive but am behind on responding - sorry!

25 comments:

beth said...

SO interesting. I'm about half-way through...can't wait to see it when it looks like a book!!

Shawntelle Madison said...

Thanks for sharing Carrie! So cool to see the process!

Lena said...

I'm trying to read the process, but all I can focus on is how ADORABLE Sam is, lol. >^..^<

Shari Green said...

Fun post, Carrie - thanks! I *think* I have a handle on the how-it-becomes-book process, but since I haven't gone through it yet (hopefully one day!), I'm sure there are surprises in store for me, lol. So much to learn! But this post helps.... :)

asamum said...

I was one of the emails...lol
I am just so pleased that there is a 3rd book on its way *happy dance* I really want to follow Gabry's story.
Thank you for sharing how much work goes into a book apart from he writing of it, whew I am worn out just ready it. Can't wait for book 3 thanks

Anonymous said...

What point of view will the 3rd book be in? =)

Anonymous said...

PS I mean will Gabby or Mary be telling it? Not 1st or 3rd person lol.

Tez Miller said...

Sam so looks like he's hugging your edits - he loves them! :-)

Wrighty said...

Such great information! It's easy for readers to forget just how long the process is. I'm very glad there are so many talented people working to get such terrific books out to us although it's like waiting for Christmas! I just got Dead Tossed Waves from my library and have put aside the book I was already reading. I can't wait any longer! I'll be anxiously waiting for the next book as well. Congrats on all your success!

Merrie Destefano said...

Carrie,
I didn't realize there was a third book in the series. Yay and double yay! Forest and Dead-Tossed are two of my fave books. So happy to hear there will be more!
=)
Merrie

Sierra Godfrey said...

This is really cool. Thanks for outlining it.

I know authors get little say in their book cover -- but what about other elements like chapter headings and the way page breaks are handled? Do you get any say in that? What if the publisher wants to use a super fancy curlicue as a page header element and you want to puke over it?

Lisa-Marie Jordan said...

Wow, that's awesome! Thank you so much for going through the steps with us! It's really interesting! And, you can add me (and my mom) to the list of people anxiously awaiting the release of The Dark and Hollow Places!

Carin said...

It's such a convoluted process and so hard to explain! I actually have a post today about production including how book printing works. Thank God for copyeditors! I recently read a bound manuscript, my first one in many years, and I was reminded again of how much I prefer finished books (or at least ARCs) to manuscripts!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for explaining all the steps. I knew it went to a few editors, but not that many rounds of revisions.

The McLaughlin's said...

I just finished The Dead-Tossed Waves. I read it in less than 24 hours because I HAD to get to the end! I can't wait to find out what happens with Gabry and Elias! Thanks for sharing the process, it will help me be a little more patient for book 3.

Aimee said...

i started the Forest sat morning and finished Waves about and hour ago.(had to work a full shift today, but had a book in and all through breaks and lunches ;))I am sooooo eager to learn what happens next, just wish it wasnt so far away! Such awesome reads!

Melissa Marr said...

Great overview! My only note is that your spacing (around step 10) makes it seem like marketing & cover & sales meetings happen toward the end instead of during the whole time when we are in revision & CE & at galleys :)

Sarah Bromley said...

Really interesting to hear some of the nitty-gritty of the publishing process. Thanks!

Robbie (BoywithBooks) said...

Sam is adorable. And, naturally, everything in your house is really his, so he deserves to sleep on his edits.

Jenni said...

I was probably one of those emails as well. I just Forest and Waves, they were great!!! They sucked me in, and I couldn't put them down. I even re-read Waves because it was so good. I promise I won't ask when it is coming out again, but I also CAN'T WAIT!!

Naushin said...

Since its already written, could you give us an advance sneak peek into a chapter possibly maybe pleaaaasse? :)
Spring 2011 seems too far away right now!

E. L. Schneider said...

Hi Carrie!

I thought this was very interesting to learn...it helps put the creative process into perspective, that's for sure!

I had to share how it works with everyone, so that they'd understand why it takes so long. I linked your blog to mine - check it out if you have the time in between all those edits! :)

http://elschneider6.blogspot.com/2010/06/getting-published-why-does-it-take-so.html

Can't wait to read The Dark And Hollow Places! I even have my husband reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth (and he soooo doesn't read!).

Juan Villagrana said...

This is totally amazing, and it clears up a lot of things. It sounds quite intimidating, but it's probably all worth it in the end.
I also like the addition of the pictures and whatnot.

Anonymous said...

I am writing a fantasy teen fiction novel now and it take almost a year it to get it to were it is now!!!!that is a lot!!!1

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