Fare thee well and safe journeys, little copyedits!

A study in ashes

So, I finished the copy edits on A Study in Ashes, which became abbreviated in emails to ASIA. The book seemed at least as big as Asia, clocking in at around 740-odd manuscript pages, which is twice the length of many mass market paperbacks these days. So I had a few plot threads to wind down. Sue me. Readers can’t accuse me of skimping.

I finished the copyedits in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and now I’m just waiting for the page proofs. After that I’m done with the trilogy, which has been my alternate reality for the last year and a half.

By the time I get to proofreading the printed pages, I will have reread the book so often I barely “see” it anymore, which is why I ask other people who haven’t seen it before to read it at the same time. It’s interesting that after so many pairs of eyeballs, a fresh reader will still find mistakes.

For those that don’t know, the book production process goes something like:

  1. Author submits draft to editor
  2. Editor writes a letter to author that can be summed up as “bleh, rewrite it all”
  3. After a stiff drink, author submits draft #2 to editor
  4. Editor emails back the book bristling with comments and complaints
  5. After two more stiff drinks and some curse words, author submits draft #3
  6. Editor “ “ “ with comments and complaints, hopefully fewer this time.
  7. After four more stiff drinks, author submits not only a draft but her soul if only the editor will JUST ACCEPT THE STUPID BOOK.
  8. With a heavy sigh, the editor figures that’s the best she’ll get and sends the book to production

How do I feel about finishing? A bit stunned. A bit lost. Kind of relieved, but sad at the same time. I think it’s like the empty-nest syndrome.

However, there are plenty of plot threads to pick up and run with. I woke up at about three o’clock in the morning Wednesday night and suddenly I knew what one of the secondary characters wanted for her new plot arc.  I wasn’t quite ready to hear about it, but I was delighted to know there are still stories to be told about the Baskerville universe. But not until after a brief respite in the real world. I seriously need to clean my house!


  1. ediFanoB says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Information from Amazon.co.uk
    “Product details

    Mass Market Paperback: 688 pages
    Publisher: Del Rey Books (31 Dec 2013)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0345537203
    ISBN-13: 978-0345537201”

    I do not know the relation between a written manuscript page and the final book page.

    The mass market paperbacks of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series are much longer. For example, my copy of “A Storm of Swords” stands for more than 1200 pages.
    I like long stories as long as the author has something tell.

    Are you forced to stick to a page limit?

    It must be exhausting to go through the whole manuscript again and again. In the end it is like not to see the wood for the trees.

    Anyway now your potential readers know that each of the three books will be published in time.

    Amazon informed me that my paperback copy of “A Study in Silks” will be delivered on October 2nd 2013 and I have a day off on that day.
    So I know what to do as soon as get the parcel from the postman …. 🙂

  2. Emma Jane says:

    Some publishers are very strict about page count, and I have written books where I was obliged to cut them down quite a bit for publication. The reason this happens is partially economics–it costs X to print a book and customers will only pay Y and therefore a book can only take up Z resources to enter the world. This in my opinion is a good argument for ebooks! It at leasts takes a little bit of the bean-counting out of what should be a creative decision and allows more beans for other things like more great artists and editors and authors.

    However, a tight page count does force one to focus very strongly on the central conflict, which can be good, or it can change the nature of the work a bad way. I think a happy medium is good – an occasional prune never hurts and I did cut an entire chapter in my last round of revisions because I thought it made the pacing stronger. Sometimes walking away from a manuscript for a few weeks can reveal weaknesses like that.
    I generally think the book should last as long as it needs to in order to tell a particular story–no more and no less.

    I haven’t caught up to GRRM’s page count and don’t aspire to it–it takes a great deal of skill to sustain a narrative that long. However it is interesting that you brought him up since we have the same editor.

  3. ediFanoB says:

    Hello Emma Jane,
    thank you very much for your reply.
    The information about publisher was really interesting. Normally a reader does not get this kind of information.

    I agree with you that digital books are a good argument for long stories.
    But there is one thing I do not like when it comes to ebooks. The media makes it a lot easier to rewrite/change the original book.
    I understand that authors like to improve their work but I say when it is done then it is done.

    To be honest I did not know that you and GRRM have the same editor.
    For me GRRM is an excellent example who has a lot to tell whih means long books.

    Anyway I got the impression from your comment that you really have something to tell.
    I really look forward to read your books

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