Category Archives: book two

The First of Many….

So right now I’m in a hotel in New York.

I’ve been away from home for about a week. I’ve gone from a booksigning to a convention, then off to my publisher to do some promotional stuff for book two.

While I was out here, guess what I got to see for the first time?

This is it folks. The real thing. One of the first copies of The Wise Man’s Fear to come off the press. The first one I’ve ever held.

It’s a gorgeous book. It’s heavier than The Name of the Wind. The paper feels good against my fingers.

Needless to say, I’m fond of it…

Tomorrow I’m flying home. It’s nice to see the book, but tomorrow I’m really looking forward to seeing Oot again.

More soon,

pat

Posted in book two | By Pat59 Responses

Book Two and a Reading in Duluth

Okay. In keeping with my tradition of slapdash scheduling. I’m going to be doing a reading/signing/Q&A session next week up in Duluth. It’s at the local Barnes and Noble on Tuesday the 12th at 7:00.

More details are over on the tour page. I also created a facebook event, if you want to use that to invite your friends without having to go to all the unpleasant work of actually talking to them.

If y’all would help spread the word a bit, I’d appreciate it. I hate doing these things on such short notice, but I only found out last week that I’d be up in the Duluth area.

And now, a piece of fanmail:

Dear Mr. Rothfuss,

As you are no doubt aware, in your April 28th blog post, you mentioned that the manuscript would be done by September.

I’m guessing you are furiously trying to put the finishing touches on the manuscript, but us fans would love an update about how the work is going. I really enjoyed your August 16th post about what revision work actually entails, and always enjoy getting a view of what your day to day work is like.

Thanks for updating the blog so frequently, it makes the waiting a lot easier, and we love hearing from you.

-Asa

Asa,

I did actually get the manuscript to my editor on schedule. She’s probably reading it even as we speak. Um. Type. Or rather, as you read what I have typed. In the past.

You know what I mean.

That means I get a little bit of a vacation while I’m waiting to hear back from her. Or rather, it means that I would get a bit of a vacation if I wasn’t still obsessively tinkering with the book.

Yesterday, for example, I re-read 87 pages of book two.

(Note that these pages aren’t the length of a paperback page or a manuscript page. They’re my own page layout that I use for editing.)

Anyway, I spend yesterday re-reading these 87 pages of the book. As I read, I try to winnow out the extra verbiage, making the book quicker and easier to read. My philosophy is that if I take out everything that is merely meh, all that’s left will be the parts that are really super-wow. That means that the book will be, in the parlance of our time, good.

Sometimes while I was reading I would get an idea for a different part of the book, and I’d skip off to another part of the book to make the change.  Sometimes I would make a change that necessitated making a few other changes throughout the book to maintain consistency.

But mostly I was just word-winnowing.

So yesterday I re-read 87 pages of the book. Pages that I’ve already read at least 100 times. It took 8 hours during the time that is, theoretically, my vacation.

At the end of those 8 hours, the book was 600 words shorter. I hadn’t trimmed a scene. I’m long past that stage. All the chaff scenes were gone months and months ago. These days if I want to tighten up the book, I have to hunt out little bits and phrases. Lines of dialogue that don’t sparkle. Non-essential snippets of description. Single superfluous words.

As I was going home, I wrestled with a familiar thought. Specifically, I wondered if I was insane.

Again, I’d spent an entire day making changes to the book that nobody would ever really notice. And I have to ask myself, is it really worth it?

Then I did the math.

A paperback page holds about 340 words, less if you use a lot of dialogue. (Which I do.) So by trimming 600 words, I’d effectively made my book about two pages shorter.

I’m guessing a quarter million people will read book two. In the US anyway. Last I heard, that’s about how many copies of NOTW have been sold.

That means, taken all together, I’ve spared my readers 500,000 pages of *meh* text.

Let’s assume it takes about a minute for a person to read a page. Roughly.

500,000 minutes = 8333 hours = 347 days.

That means, taken all together, I’ve saved my readers a full year of meh reading. That’s not counting foreign translations, book club versions, and people who read the book multiple times.

When I think of it that way, I guess it doesn’t seem so crazy. Which is good, because I don’t think I could stop being obsessive like this even if I wanted to.

Later all,

pat

Also posted in appearances, Fanmail Q + A, Revision | By Pat108 Responses

Beta Readers: Part II

First, a few excerpts from the many, many messages I’ve received recently.

  • “Do you need another Beta Reader? I’d be happy to help….”
  • “I read on one of your latest blogs something about beta readers. I had no clue there was such a thing, but now I know about it I want to be one.”
  • “I think beta-reading sounds like the best job in the world–next to testing the softness of puppy-tummy-fur with one’s face all day.”

People have given many credentials and uttered many a plaintive plea. There have even been blatant attempts at bribery. People have offered me cash, computers, and promises of their undying love. About the only thing people didn’t offer is livestock and sexually explicit pictures of themselves.

I should have seen it coming, but honestly, I didn’t.

I know a lot of people would love to help me out by giving a beta read…

Wait, that’s not entirely true, is it?

What I meant to say is that a lot of people would love to read an early copy of the book, and, largely by coincidence, help me out with a beta read.

But I just can’t feel good about it. ** [See edit below.]

  • “I’d like to volunteer.  I know there is probably some precautions you have to take to make sure it’s not leaked, but I’ll do whatever you need, sign a contract, send in a testicle, mail in a kid for collateral, whatever… seriously though I can keep my mouth shut.”

Ultimately, this strikes at the heart of the issue.

Back when I was working on The Name of the Wind, I would give a copy of the book to anyone who even hinted they wanted to read it.

Getting other people’s feedback on the book is a key element of my revision process. You see, I’ve read this book so many times in so many versions, that I need an external view of it. A triangulation point, if you will…

But these days, I can’t just hand it out all higgledy piggledy. Things are more complicated. These days I have to worry about people leaking early, crappy versions of the book onto the net months before the pub date.

I know, deep in my heart of hearts, that most people would never dream of doing such a thing. But all it takes is one jackass….

And yeah, I have a non-disclosure form. Everyone signs it before they get the book. Even Sarah signed it.

It’s a vicious fucking thing that goes something like this:

You, by signing below, agree that you’ll do everything in your power to protect this manuscript and keep its contents secret. If you fail in this, and are a big chatty Cathy about it, I, Patrick Rothfuss, will fuck you up.

I will do this on all possible levels: financially, socially, physically, and spiritually.

If you lend it to your girlfriend who leaves it on the bus and then some jackhole finds it and it ends up on the internet, I will de-corn your cob. Seriously. Your entire cob. Every single kernel of corn. I am not even fucking kidding….

It goes on like that for some time. It is so terrifying that one of my friends said he didn’t feel comfortable leaving the house with his copy of the book.

But really, the non-disclosure form isn’t going to help. If the book gets leaked, I’ll be pissed forever, and suing some daft bastard into the ground won’t fix that.

  • “Do i have to invade a small nation? Do I have to sing show tunes in Times Square? Or is it just one of those “inner sanctum of friends” kind of thing?”

Ultimately, yeah. At this point it is. I have to know you personally, so I can trust you. It’s also important for me to know you because that helps me put your comments in context.

The other problem is that for me to really get the most out of a beta reader, I like to be able to sit down with them over coffee and chat about the book. I like to be able to leaf through the manuscript, ask them questions about their comments, and pick their brains about certain key issues. And seeing how most of you don’t live here in Stevens Point, that’s kinda hard.

So this blog is to say thanks to everyone who offered to help. I’d love to be able to take you up on your offers, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass.

More soon,

pat

** Edit – May 18th

When I looked at the comments today, I was surprised to see people offering hugs of consolation, and giving me support, and telling me not to let the messages get me down.

This was kind of a surprise to me, as the messages I got from people asking to be beta readers were, by and large, lovely, considerate, flattering things.

So I re-read the blog and found the problem. It’s the following line:

“But I just can’t feel good about it.”

What we have here is a classic case of unspecific pronoun. It seems like I’m saying that I can’t feel good about all the people asking to read book two. But that’s not the case. I’m cool with that. As I’ve said, it’s really rather flattering, and I wish I could take people up on their offers. Because, as I’ve said, I love feedback.

That sentence should read, “But I just can’t feel good about handing out copies of book two to strangers.”

This, my friends, is why I do a lot of revisions. One misused pronoun and the entire emphasis of a piece of writing gets fucked up.

Just wanted to clarify.

Love,

pat

Also posted in the business of writing, the craft of writing | By Pat116 Responses

I said I’d tell you when I knew….

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.

pat

Also posted in Things I didn't know about publishing | By PatComments closed

Is it drafty in here?

So today I was going to pass along some news about the book in a blog titled, “Why I don’t talk about Book Two.”

The blog was proving rather difficult to write until I realized it was really two blogs. So today we’re just going to get the news, and I’ll talk about the other stuff later.

Here’s the news: I’ve finally finished my latest draft of The Wise Man’s Fear.

Oot is shown in order to give a sense of scale. And because my baby is frikkin adorable.

This manuscript is about 200 pages longer, and about 500 pages different than the last one I took a picture of. I’ve fixed plotting, tweaked characters, cut scenes, added scenes, re-written, re-organized, re-read, and re-re-organized sections of it so many times that I couldn’t even begin to give you a number of versions it’s been through.

Now last time I posted up a picture of a manuscript on the blog, people got all twitterpated. They saw that big stack of papers and said things like, “Yay! That means the book will be out next month!!1!” and “Wow! How are they going to bind something that big?!?”

So before we all go leaping to a bunch of unfounded and erroneous conclusions, let’s talk about a few things.

First, this manuscript is printed in….(wait for it) manuscript format. That means it’s one-sided, double spaced, and printed in courier new font. That’s what makes it look so big. Typesetting the book comes later in the process. That’s one of the many, many steps that comes later.

That said, The Wise Man’s Fear is going to be bigger than The Name of the Wind by at least 100,000 words or so.

Second, let’s discuss what a draft is. A draft is a version of a piece of writing. Almost always it is an early or preliminary version. You can have things like a rough draft, which is… well… rough. A second draft, which comes after the first draft. Or you can have things like a final draft, which is… well… final.

Is this going too fast for anyone?

This is not the final draft of book two. If it were, I would have said something like, “This is the final draft of book two.” But I didn’t. So it’s not.

But it isn’t a rough draft either. The one I turned in several months ago was rough. There were some bad plot holes, some logical inconsistencies, pacing problems, and not nearly enough lesbian unicorns.

This draft is tighter, cleaner, and all around better. I’m really pleased with it, but it’s not quite perfect. Not yet.

What this *doesn’t* mean.

The book will not be out next week. The book will not be out next month. Right now there’s no publication date. Remember when I said there wasn’t a publications date? There’s no publication date.

What this *does* mean.

The book is a big step closer to being done.

The book is way better than it was before. That last draft of the book was okay. It had some great parts, some parts that were “meh” and some that were “huh?” Overall, it averaged out to about 70 percent awesome.

Which isn’t bad, but I’m not content with a C-minus book. This draft is way better. I’m guessing about 90-92 percent awesome. Way better. But still not perfect.

I’m working on the book, even if I don’t constantly talk about it here on the blog. More about this in the upcoming blog: Why I don’t talk about Book Two.

What happens now?

This manuscript goes to my editor, Betsy. She reads it carefully, maybe twice. She makes notes, then we talk about what she thinks might need to be changed/tweaked/fixed.

Then, depending on how much work we think it needs. We put it into the production schedule. That means we’ll have a publication date. Which I will tell you. On the blog. With words.

Then I do another set of revisions. Or more likely, several smaller sets of revisions, as I’m a freak like that. Luckily, these next sets won’t be nearly so extensive as my last round.

In metaphorical terms, the last round of revisions was like an organ transplant. Invasive, complex, labor intensive, and with a long recovery time. The revisions I do after this will probably be more like cosmetic surgery. Or an appendectomy at worst.

But first, I get to relax. I’ve been working on this fucker nonstop for months. And now, finally, I get to take a break while I wait for Betsy’s feedback.

I’m pretty excited to be seeing more of you too, Oot.

You see folks, Oot is one happy baby, all laughs and smiles. But in order to get this revision finished, there have been times over the last several months when I’ve spent weeks at a stretch working 10-14 hours a day. That’s not counting e-mail, dealing with translators, and writing the occasional blog.

That means on some busy days, I only get to play with him for half an hour or so. If our sleep schedules don’t match up, some days I don’t get to see him at all while he’s awake.

I’m not mentioning this to get sympathy. I’m mentioning it so you can better understand my life. I’m mentioning this so you know what exactly goes through my head when someone sends me an e-mail or posts on my blog, saying, “Just finish the book for fucksake!”

So…. that’s the news. The book is going well. There are parts of it that I’m so proud of that I almost can’t help but talk about them here. It’s coming. Be patient. And rest assured that I’m not just lounging around, doing whippets and eating the cotton-candy underthings off nubile young catgirls.

As for myself, now that the book is out of my hands for a couple weeks, I’m planning on catching up on some family stuff and playing Bioshock 2 until I puke.

Oh, and I’ll be catching up on a few blogs I’ve been meaning to post, too. Tune in on Monday and I’ll be announcing some of my upcoming appearances for convention season.

There will also be a chance for you to get me to come do a reading/signing at your local bookstore if you live in the right part of the country. Specifically in between Chicago and West Virginia…

So stay tuned….

pat

Also posted in lesbian unicorns, Oot | By Pat262 Responses

Powells

For those of you who have never been there, Powell’s Books is like no other bookstore I’ve ever seen.

It takes up a whole city block. As I mentioned before on the blog, I’ve only been there once, and that was only for a bare 45 minutes or so. Even so, that was enough time for me to get lost.

And I’m not speaking metaphorically here. I was actually physically lost. Lost as in, “I don’t know where I came in or how I can get out.”

Simply said, if heaven turns out to be something like Powell’s, I wouldn’t complain too much.

As if that weren’t enough coolness all by itself, a friend recently stopped there and snapped a few pictures of what he found.

(Click to Embiggen)

Awww…. Thank you Powell’s.

(Click to Embiggen)

Wow. That’s unprecedentedly forthright. Thanks again, Powell’s.

And just a couple days ago, someone sent me a link to Powell’s “Puddly Awards” where customers and staff pick their favorite books. Even better, Powell’s then sells those books at a discount until the end of February. So you’ve still got a week or so to take advantage of it.

That’s the hat trick. Thanks a third time, Powell’s.

More soon,

pat

Also posted in accolades, cool things | By Pat92 Responses

Signs of things to come…

Well, it took a little doing, but at this point we’ve got 99.9% of the raffle prizes packaged up and in the mail.

(Note: Oot is not a prize.)

Valerie did most of the packing and mailing, with solid assistance from a few others including Sarah and Oot. Though really, I don’t know if what Oot does can be considered assistance. Personally, I think he’s the weak member of the team. But Sarah and Valerie place great stock in cuteness, cooing, and the desire to bounce up and down while being held.

I don’t doubt that some of the books have already started arriving at the winners’ houses. If you’d like to send in a picture of you loving you cool new books, feel free to mail them to: paperback.contest [squiggly atsign thinger] gmail.com.

I helped with some of the packaging, but Valerie has perfectionist tendencies, and I tend to be a hardline proponent of function over form. After one particularly ugly wrapping job, I was told that my time would perhaps be better spent doing something else, like bouncing little Oot.

Personally, I thought the package was a marvel of engineering. Nigh-indestructible, in fact.


Sure it’s ugly, but it gets the job done. (I’m talking about the package.)

Anyway, the upshot is that the girl members of Team Elodin did most of the post-fundraiser sorting and shipping. Which is nice, as it freed me up to concentrate on the book.

And yes, I’ll be posting up news about that soon, so y’all can stop asking.

And no, there isn’t a publication date yet, so y’all can stop asking about that too.

I mean seriously. If the book had a solid pub date, don’t you think I’d mention it? Do you think I’d sit here at home, rubbing my hands together and chortling: “Yes! If I withhold this information another week, I’m sure to get another 100 e-mails asking me about the book!”

Yup. That’s exactly what I’d do. Because obviously I am some sort of alien life form that lives on snarky fanmail and bitchy blog comments. Since I became stranded on your strange world years ago, they have been my only means of sustenance.

That’s really the only explanation that makes any sense… Unless, of course, the reason I haven’t posted up any news is simply because there *isn’t* any news.

Now that I *do* have some news, I’ll write a post about it. It’s that simple. These things don’t happen faster because you ask for them, you realize. Quite the opposite, in fact.

So, if you care about that sort of thing, stay tuned. I’m planning on titling the post: “Why I Don’t Talk About Book Two.”

Oddly enough though, I *will* be talking about book two in that particular blog. Go figure.

pat

Also posted in Oot, Sarah, Valerie, Worldbuilders 2009 | By Pat105 Responses
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