So my editor has finished reading the great beastly draft of The Wise Man’s Fear I sent her a while back.
It’s the third draft she’s read, but it’s the first one I’ve really had any confidence in. The first one was pure crap. The second one was mostly complete but still pretty shaky in parts.
This draft was good. I’m verging on being proud of it. It still has a few problems, but they’re manageable problems. They’re problems I can percieve and get my head around, and that means they’re problems I can solve.
So Betsy got back to me with her feedback on the manuscript: a list of 27 things she felt needed attention in the book, arranged in nicely worded bullet points. (The formatting was at my request. I’m fond of bullet points.)
Some of her 27 points are small things. Some are bigger issues. We agree about most of them. Two or three will require a bit of negotiation.
It’s really not a long list, especially when you consider that my own list of things-that-need-fixing-in-book-two currently stands at about 50 or 60 items.
Every time I sit down to work on the book, I try to resolve a few of those issues. Sometimes I fix something and cross it off the list. Other times, a beta reader will bring something to my attention and I add it to the list. As I work, sometimes new problems occur to me, and I add those to the list as well. Sometimes I fix something, and that causes a new problem. So I cross something off and add something at the same time.
It’s kinda like trying to iron all the wrinkles out of a shirt. A huge, living, n-dimentional shirt.
As an example: tonight I worked on the book for about 9 hours. I crossed off four things on my list and added six things. But most of those six things are small, while two of the things I fixed were moderately big and complicated. So it was a good day’s work. (Unfortunately, because one problem tangled me up for four hours, I didn’t get home until 1:30 AM, which means I didn’t get to say goodnight to Oot, which sucks.)
Anyway, earlier today I talked on the phone with my editor about the book. We talked about her 27 points.
My editor asked me if I could have the book done by September.
I thought about it. I thought about her 27 points and my ever-changing 50-60 points. I thought about who I can still use as beta readers, and how many drafts I’ll be able go through in four months. I thought about how many times I will personally be able to read the book in four months.
I said I was sure I could finish it by September.
She asked me if I was sure. Really sure.
I thought about it. Back in 2007, I was sure I’d have the book done by 2008. But I was hugely ignorant and optimistic back then. So I was dead fucking wrong. That caused a lot of grief.
I told her I was really sure I could have it finished by September.
Come hell or high water? She asked me.
Come hell or high water, I said.
So we agreed that I’d have the book finished by September. It was nice. It made us both happy.
So that’s part of the news, that I’ll be finished writing The Wise Man’s Fear by September.
But here’s the rest of the news: that means that the book can’t come out until March of 2011.
Why? Well, for a bunch of reasons. Mostly because there are a lot of things that have to happen before a mass of text becomes a printed book on a shelf. It needs to be copyedited. The edits need to be confirmed. It needs to be proofed, checked for consistency, fiddled with. Fonts need to be chosen. It needs to go through layout. Then it needs to be proofed again. Marketing needs to happen. It needs to be sent to reviewers, and the reviewers need to have time to read it before they write the reviews. It needs to be put into catalogs of to-be-published-books so people who run bookstores can learn about it and order copies for their stores. It needs to be printed, boxed, warehoused, shipped. We need to sacrifice a black she-goat and pray to strange and terrible gods. Then we need to proofread again.
A lot of these steps are going to take longer than normal because my book is 2-3 times longer than most ordinary novels. Other things are going to take longer because this book is kinda important to a lot of people, and we want to make sure everything gets done just right.
The simple truth of the matter is this: that’s just the way it is. I wish it could be sooner, and I’m guessing many of you feel the same. Believe it or not, if the publisher could wave a magic wand and make that happen, they would. (Remember, they don’t make money on the book until they can sell it.)
But there’s no way the book can come out earlier and still have it be the best book possible.
So that’s what happened today: I found out the publication date for The Wise Man’s Fear – March 1st 2011.
Honestly, it would be way easier for me to sit on this information for a while. I could wait until the date was a little closer, thereby avoid some of the great wailing and gnashing of teeth I expect will follow this announcement. That shit brings me no joy. It damages my calm and makes it harder for me to write.
But I promised y’all I would pass along the *real* publication date as soon as I knew it. So that’s what I’m doing.
March 1st 2011.