The Great Morass of Publishing (or, where the fuck is Hawk?)

Someone on the Dragaera list asked what was up with Hawk.  It is tentatively scheduled for September of 2014, but I have a feeling that’ll be pushed back.  We’ll see.

I’ve delivered the manuscript. Now it has to be line edited which means my editor (the lovely and talented Teresa Nielsen Hayden) will go over it and say things like, “What the fuck is this supposed to be?” and, “would you mind rewriting this scene so that mere mortals can work out what’s going on?”  (Actually, she’ll be much nicer than that, and I’ll agree with 80-90% of her suggestions.)

The geniuses in design (Irene Gallo and her All Girl-Detective Orchestra (tm jenphalian)) will figure out what the book should look like, then commission an artist (I hope Steve Hickman) to create the cover art.

When I get the line edit back, I have to rewrite it so I’m happy with it, and send it back (this usually only takes a week or two; I’m fast with my rewrites).

Marketing has to be told when the book will be released and someone–most likely Patrick Nielsen Hayden–has to give them enough of an idea of what the book is so they can sell it.

Someone–I think Patrick again–has to write back cover copy and maybe the little front blurb.  This is something Patrick can just snap off in his copious free time.

Meanwhile, a copy editor is going over the book looking for inconsistencies in spelling and other details (like, making sure I don’t try to include a recipe in which lemon juice is added to milk.*  I wouldn’t do that, but if I did, the copy editor would ask me if I really meant it.  I’ve had extraordinary copy editors).

Then I have to look over and approve the copy edit.

Production will make arrangements to put the package together, schedule time at the printer, and so forth.

A bound galley (or Advanced Reader Copy) will somehow emerge and be sent to reviewers.

Marketing will accept orders for the book so they have an idea of how many copies to print.

A proofreader will take a last pass at the book looking for any last errors that have crept in or gotten by, and send the book to me to approve the final version.

The pages will be sent to printer to be printed, bound, boxed, and sent off to stores.

Then the most frustrating part: the boxes of books will sit in the book store, probably for 2-4 weeks, waiting for the “official release date,” because if they go on shelves before that, Amazon whines.

Now, I’m not entirely clear on how much of this stuff happens simultaneously, or what the exact timeline is, or what order stuff happens in in some cases; but that’s at least some of what needs to happen.

I am now awaiting the line-edit.

Thanks kindly for your interest, and I hope this helps a little.


*Yes, I know there are recipes that call for lemon juice being added to milk; I’d still expect the copy editor to query it.

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32 thoughts on “The Great Morass of Publishing (or, where the fuck is Hawk?)”

  1. Good description/explanation. Is this your way of saying that publishing a book takes time and actual work?

  2. (1) It’ll stay in September 2014.

    (2) The cover has already been commissioned, and of course it’ll be by Steve Hickman.

    (3) I love the way the phrase “Advance Reading Copy” has decayed to “Advanced Reader Copy” in so much of book publishing — the latter is now standard at several major publishers! It sounds to my ear like it’s a special edition for particularly skilled readers. To the best of my ability I try to hold the line at Tor so that we usually use the original term.

  3. can I please please please be an advanced reading copy person?

    I will (insert denigrating activity here) for you if you let me.

  4. Adding lemon juice to cream (plus a few other ingredients) yields a delightfully different pasta sauce. My only question as an editor running across that would be “when can I show up for dinner?”

  5. Just wanted to say thanks for this post..

    In over 30 years of being an avid reader and impatient wait-er, this is the first time I’ve had any insight into what happens after the author says “Hey, its done!”

    Now I’ll go back to impatiently waiting on Hawk firstly, and a fair sized list of other books without any release dates at all, secondly.

    cheers.. and thanks for creating Vlad.

  6. I love that more and more people are using girl-detectives in their orchestras. It both fills a needed employment gap and creates a richly clueful sound.

  7. Adding lemon juice to milk? So “Hawk” is a cookbook? I’d love a few Draegaran recipes.

  8. Copy Editors don’t rate dinner? Or lemon juice added to milk doesn’t rate as (part of) dinner?

  9. One way of making ricotta starts by adding lemon juice to milk. I use buttermilk instead (and it is said that some use vinegar) but some souring agent is needed to get it to curdle. Just for the record you heat to about 190 when the curds separate and then strain out the whey.

    Any plans for after Hawk? Getting down to the less well-known houses by now. Chreotha (or however it’s spelled)?

    So Amazon is now driving publishing. When will they start their own publishing house?

  10. by the way, when I said I’ll be an advance reading copy reader—I have credentials. I can spot a typo from 100 feet away. I can split my own infinitive.

  11. Lemon in cream can work out quite well. Lemon in milk not so much unless you are going for curds. I had a wonderful tagliolini al limone at Girarrosto Fiorentino in Rome.

  12. Thanks for the update, I’ve been jonesing for a Vlad fix….Have you considered maybe auctioning off one of those advanced readers copies to one of us rabid fans??

  13. “Someone–I think Patrick again–has to write back cover copy and maybe the little front blurb. This is something Patrick can just snap off in his copious free time.”

    Oh my, I can’t describe how much I’d love to help him out with that. :) Especially since it would mean getting to read the book sooner rather than later.

    Generally, an ARC is created from the “first pages” which will be the first time that the interior pages are set in a format that will resemble the finished book. That’s after the line-edit rewrites but probably simultaneously with the copy-editor. It’s certainly way, way prior to the proofreader.

    Ach, I only have an English degree and advanced training in it, but I don’t have the eye to do copyediting. Otherwise I’d be throwing myself at science fiction publishing companies for freelancing work. :-)

  14. I suppose I should say to other Brust fans: if you have questions about publishing and don’t mind answers from someone that hasn’t worked in publishing for eight months, you can always direct questions to me on twitter: @sphericaltime. I have the time that PNH doesn’t have to answer them. But not all of his knowledge (I wish!)

  15. Tangentially, are there any thoughts/plans on making your back catalogue available, at least in electronic form? I just today wanted to hook a friend of mine on the Vlad series, only to learn that only the last half-dozen or so are available as ebooks, and Yendi and Teckla seem to be out of print in any medium.

    Also, Freedom and Necessity! Please!?!?! (I need to go replace my infinite-loan dead tree copy of it anyway, sigh.)

  16. Christopher: Thanks for your interest. E-book publication of the early Vlad novels is complicated, and I’m working on it. They are still in print in omnibus editions from Berkely: Book of Jhereg, Book of Taltos, Book of Athyra.

  17. umm I don’t want to make anyone crazy here, but I happen to know where I can get some actual e-book formats of at least some of the books. I’ve bought multiple copies of each of Brusts’ books, and I intend to buy more as I wear my hard copies out, but…I needed to have some in e-format….anyway, they’re better than you’ll be able to find online, because they’re you know, proof-read and have been modified to undo the damage done by translation from pdf etc etc.

    I will freely give you back your property over to you, Mr. Brust (and even delete my copies if you ask me to), because they are YOURS–but if you want to save hours of transcription work, some of the books are basically already to go.

  18. Thanks for asking, Jon, but once we manage to fight through the bullshit, the publisher will handle all of that. Not that I mind you having the copies you have, but as technically Berkely still owns those right, I don’t want to step on their toes by going around them.

  19. All that editing and proof-reading goes into publication, and I have yet to find a single book that doesn’t have any grammatical or proofing errors. Usually it’s something like improper spelling of a word that was meant to be there, but is still a properly spelled English word (stupid English language), or a misplaced or punctuation mark.

  20. Likewise. E-books are typically poorly vetted for spelling/grammar/formatting mistakes. It’s very irksome to me.

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