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Nose to the Grindstone: Linkage [Nov. 18th, 2008|03:16 pm]
[Current Mood |accomplished]
[Current Music |MESSIAH "And He Shall Purify"]

Because my agent really wanted to see the thing, even rough, I did the link-up today.  I prefer to work with chapter files, not the whole book in one file--it's easier for  me, especially in Word, which can be peculiar with very large files.  But agents and editors don't like that format, so...I spent some hours doing the necessary repetitive steps.  Open whole-book file.  Open chapter file.  Edit: select all, Edit: copy, go back to whole-book file, Edit: paste, then insert a page break.  Over and over and over.

But we now know what size elephant we have: 1165 pages of elephant, and 235,546 words (according to Word), and that's after the latest cuts.  LARGE elephant.  

Please note: the bits you won't see are not necessarily worth seeing.  Rembrandt's and Michaelangelo's sketches: worth it.  Lots of other artists' sketches, not so.    Discards are often just plain junk.  Verbal  chunk, marble junk, paint-on-dirty-canvas junk.  We learn by doing it wrong. 

The bits that ARE worth seeing, I will try to get out in the open sometime, probably on my website. 



From: (Anonymous)
2008-11-18 09:38 pm (UTC)

So Exciting

If you have time, I'd really appreciate a brief overview of the next steps.

I've so enjoyed watching the process. I can't wait to read the book. But while I know where you are, I don't know what else has to be done and how long it generally takes before I actually get to go the book store, buy the book, and then spend the night reading the new book.

Pretty please???


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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2008-11-19 05:34 am (UTC)

Re: So Exciting

First off, there is no "generally" about how long it takes. It differs with publishers, with specific projects (is this a first-novel, a midlist, a lead, a potential award winner?), and with holes and bunches in the production schedule due to other writers' turning things in early or late.

But in order: after the manuscript goes to the agent, it may sit with the agent (if there's time) so the agent can decide if it needs work before the editor sees it, or go straight to the editor. Let's say it gets to the editor pretty quickly.

The editor reads it...this can take days to weeks depending on the editor's schedule. At some point the editor decides what revisions she wants, and tells the writer, who promptly has hysterics all down the hall. (This happens even when common sense says the editor is right...having someone want you to change the book is equivalent to telling you your baby is ugly and should lose that extra arm, it'll never amount to anything.) Within hours (sometimes sooner) the smart writer is over all that and can see that the editor is a) completely right, b) partly right, c) the worst editor in the world. (Editors aren't really (c), so the smart writer who still thinks (c) after 24 hours will go through the cycle again.)

Now the writer starts making the changes the editor wants or the ones the editor and writer finally agreed on. How long this takes depends on a) how many and how "deep" the changes (some changes require more work than others), b) how fast the changes have to be made to meet production schedules.

Once a book is "on schedule" with production, all deadlines are hard deadlines. It must be ready for copyedit on X date, so it can be typeset on Y and sent to the printer at Z, and to the bindery at Z-sub-x. The slots are assigned to "your" book, and like a spot in the landing pattern at LAX or DFW, if you lost your slot at the printer, tough luck...it'll be awhile. The slots are allocated by the publisher's perception of when a given book will do well and whether all the production steps will fit in neatly between when it's turned in and when its desired publication date is.

So the revisions go back to the editor, and the editor approves them or not. Another round of back and forth may be necessary. Some editors do all the revisions at once; some separate the process into substantive editing (the logic of the story) and line editing (style stuff.) If the editor does two runs, that takes longer.

From the editor-editor, the now-revised ms. goes to the copyeditor. Horror stories about bad copyeditors abound because there are some very bad ones (and also very good ones, and also mediocre ones.) The copyeditor's real job is to mark the manuscript for production--for the typesetter--and ensure that no one has missed typos, misspelled words, etc., but the bad copyeditors think they should get to rewrite the book. It comes back to the writer after copyediting, usually with very few days to cope with the copyedited manuscript and un-change unwanted changes. You un-change them by writing STET next to the change.

After this, the book goes to Production, which typesets and prints it. At that point, the writer gets a stack of pages (proofs) and very little time to check every word, punctuation mark, space, etc. At the proof stage, you're supposed to change only mistakes that arose in Production (e.g. quote marks facing the wrong way...half a dash by itself on a line...) If the book is going to have an ARC (advanced reading copy) for advertising and reviewers, this is when it's produced (but not distributed yet!) ARCs are uncorrected proofs, so they're usually "dirty."

After the proof stage, the book may go straight to printing and binding and then the writer gets their copies and finds out that there's a big whopping typo on page three. Or somewhere.

At the fastest, a celebrity book on an immediate topic of interest can be produced in six weeks by some publishers. At the fastest-for-genre, it's about six months. The average is 12-18 months, I think.
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From: inditravler
2008-11-19 01:36 pm (UTC)

Re: So Exciting

Good grief, holy moly, and no wonder I only get a book a year ;-) Thank goodness that there are people like you to do this much work for people like me to enjoy. Thanks for the info and I'll keep watching the process and waiting. Hope you get a good copy editor.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2008-11-19 11:25 pm (UTC)

Re: So Exciting

People who can write faster than me (or shorter books, or both) can have multiple books in various stages of production at the same time...they may be dealing with first-drafting a book, correcting proofs of a second, and working on revisions or copy-edits of a third--all simultaneously. I am in awe of those people. I try to start the new one no later than two weeks after the "old" new one goes to the editor, but I find working through the revision and other editing & production processes hard--I feel yanked back and forth by the two books. I don't know how people who write three and four books a year do it.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2008-11-19 05:39 am (UTC)
I don't use Open Office. A lot depends on the exact software. It was so easy to merge them in WordStar...
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[User Picture]From: coleoptera
2008-11-18 10:01 pm (UTC)
Are you just trying to create any master document with all of these files together? If it doesn't matter if it's a word doc, I would use Adobe Acrobat to create the master text from all your individual files. When we're working on similar things in my office, that's what we do. You don't have to convert each doc to pdf beforehand, you can just organize them and say create.

I think also you can use the Tools --> Compare and Merge Documents function in word. I haven't used it before but I just tested it on a couple of random documents and besides what may be occasional accidental deletion of things it things are headers (I just rejected the deletion in the comment, like in Track Changes) it worked just fine.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2008-11-19 05:36 am (UTC)
Publisher wants Word files. I tried the merge documents function and it ate some files. Not doing that again. My way is tedious, but it works.
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[User Picture]From: neshel
2008-11-18 10:04 pm (UTC)
I remember someone saying that about Tolkien recently, in response to his notes/scraps being turned into new works today. Basically that a lot of stuff an author writes and then discards is discarded for a reason. Course, I have no idea how good the new stuff actually is, just that certain people believe it should have been left alone.

I'm very happy to hear that this book has turned into such a big one. More of it to love!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2008-11-19 05:38 am (UTC)
I think they're right. The great stuff he wrote was published while he was still alive to agree that it was good enough. IMO
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