Thursday, February 10, 2011

two headed boy

So here is something that frequently isn't written about on writers' blogs. It's about the technical process of getting a book out.

For you up-and-coming types out there.

This happens after the writing, the editorial letter, the revisions, the copy-edits. And, the way things have happened with the production of my books may be different from the steps toward actual release for other authors, too, so, as usual, don't take me overly seriously.

Yesterday, my editor let me know that she had seen the final pages for my next novel, Stick, which is going to be released this fall, with ARCs coming out next month, in March.

The final pages are the unbound, print-ready pages with cut marks on them. They are pretty much exactly the way the pages are going to look for the final products -- the ARC, and, afterward, the released publication.

And this is the first time I haven't actually held those pages in my hand [Note -- this is not a passive-aggressive plea for some kind of delivery of the goods]. We were going to go direct from the copy-edits to the ARC, but my editor and I both felt that a look at the final, typeset pages for this novel would be necessary because a significant part of the story has to do with the way the words are actually formatted on the printed page.


I am fortunate to have a few writer friends. They range across the spectrum of nice to mean, but they all have one thing in common: they are wickedly talented. Anyway, I told my friend Sara Zarr about the process, and she was, like, wow... that would freak me out to go straight from copy edits directly to the ARC.

Well, that wasn't exactly what she said, but it was the gist of it.

By the way, Sara is one of the very few people who has read Stick (whose final pages and concepts for its mysterious cover I have not laid eyes upon -- just sayin'), and she wrote a very, very nice blurb about it.

So, anyway, my editor expressed, I think, some relief that the final pages turned out beautifully... and if we need to make any changes to it, we can still do it after the ARCs come out.

Which makes me kind of nervously sick, just thinking about it.

My opinion only: Even though they say things like "Uncorrected Proof" on them, ARCs should be perfect.


Why am I a two-headed boy?

Well, for one thing, not only do I get torn up about the technical stuff (the typeset pages for The Marbury Lens made me go absolutely insane -- lose sleep and everything -- because some line breaks were omitted), but I've been praying for a break from writing for maybe a year now and it hasn't come.

Part of me knows I really should take a break. I'm killing myself. But I haven't been able to stop. I am writing another novel right now.

I usually can predict fairly accurately my completion date for a novel well ahead of time (barring any distractions like copy editing or revising another project). I'm predicting April 22 on this one.

We'll see if the two-headed boy is using his brains on that calculation.

Here are some pictures of what final pages look like, from The Marbury Lens:

Notice the trim-marks on the pages.

The Post-It note on top is from my amazing editor (awww....). The notes inside are mistakes and other assorted WTF moments.