Thursday, January 27, 2011

First Pass Pages, and a peek behind the scenes, and some news!

Look what arrived on my doorstep yesterday: first pass pages for Daughter of Smoke and Bone!

First pass pages are the first typeset draft of the book, printed out as proofs. These pages are exactly as they will appear in the ARC, or Advance Reading Copy, which is sent out to booksellers, librarians, reviewers, etc. At the same time that the publisher is readying the ARC to print, they/we are also going over the book in this format one last time before the final print version is arrived at. So, though this is the way reviewers will see it, it is not the final-final-final draft.

In brief, here's the life of a book once the author finishes it and sends it to her/his editor (note: publishers do vary in their process, but this is pretty basic):


There are generally several rounds of revisions, during which quite major -- even massive -- changes might be made to the story, the characters, the ending, the beginning, whatever. At this stage, anything might still happen. The editor helps the author shape the book into its best possible self. This stage might take months, depending on the book. If the book was purchased incomplete, as was Daughter, this is time at which the publisher must formally "accept" the manuscript as fulfilling the author's end of the contract. 


After however-many revision rounds, when the manuscript is considered "final" in the eyes of the editor, it moves on to copyediting. This is done by a fresh set of eyes, maybe an in-house copyeditor, or a freelancer, or possibly another editor who has not been involved in the editing so far. Fresh eyes are so important! 

A good copyeditor is not just looking for grammar and punctuation (though that is a big part of their job), but also for inconsistencies that others may have missed. Like: it's nighttime in this scene, but then there's a mention of  sun glancing off the mirror. Also: continuity, logic, that sort of thing.

Authors' copyediting experiences vary widely. Some CEs (copyeditors) are major Chicago Manual of Style sticklers and mark anything and everything that deviates. Others are more flexible with the author's personal style, and work toward consistency in that style. The author has the ability to mark STET on the CE's changes, which is Latin for "let it stand." 

First Pass Pages

Then it's time for first pass pages, where the house and the author both give another read and try to catch anything they missed before. It's GREAT to see the book typeset, after having read it in manuscript form many times. (Typeset means how it will look in the actual book.) It is beginning to look REAL now. BOOK-LIKE. And here the author sees for the first time what font the publisher has chosen, and what kind of decoration or flourishes, if any, they are using for chapter headings, title page, things like that. 

With Lips Touch especially this was crazy-exciting, because Lips Touch was printed in two-colors, and is a gorgeously designed book. I think Jim and I did some jumping up and down when we first saw it. Well, Jim will deny any such behavior. Maybe I am the only one who jumped up and down. While he leaned against a wall and smiled, all cool. 

For some reason, seeing your words in this book-looking typeset way makes it easier to give it yet another read, and also makes typos pop that you may have glossed right over on a billion earlier reads. 

First pass pages are cool. And fat. And heavy. I did not bring it with me to the cafe this morning, where I am now, just about to start writing. (Freedom, prepare to be enabled.) That work will be reserved for evenings. Mornings are for new words :)

What's next?

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, covers are being designed, which is very very exciting! I have seen various roughs from Little, Brown, and they are onto a very cool concept right now. Can't wait to see how it turns out! My UK publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, sent me their ARC cover, and it is gorgeous. Interestingly, unlike here, they usually use a different cover for the actual book. In any case, I will show all these fun fun things once I am given the go-ahead.

I can't speak to the many things the publisher is doing at this stage. Many-many. It's all them now. It's one thing to write a book, and quite another to make it a book, and get it into people's hands, hopefully lots of hands, to draw the attention of passersby, to persuade reviewers to check it out. There is a reason that publisher's get 90%, people. I do not begrudge them a nickle of it. 

One thing I *think* I will be able to share soon is the flap copy. And let me tell you, shoooooeeeee. Writing flap copy may be harder than writing the actual book! 

Some extreeeeeeemly exciting news (to me):

This blows my mind. My tiny brain people* do ecstatic dances whenever I think of it, and then they  kind of wander around in a daze bumping into each other going, "Can you believe it?" "No. Can you?" "No. Can you?" etc.

*tiny brain people are the native fauna of your mind. They work all the gears and levers. Duh.

It's this: last I heard, Daughter of Smoke and Bone had sold in 18 foreign territories. Eighteen. That's eighteen versions, eighteen languages, eighteen different covers.


I [heart] foreign editions. A longtime component of my writer daydream, along with the "Back to the Future box"**, is this: a shelf with foreign editions of my books all lined up. 

I am going to have The Shelf. 







Sorry. Tiny brain people just swooned en masse, leaving my mind unmanned for a couple of seconds. 

I have a few foreign editions so far, of my earlier books, and some in the works, but I'm afraid that my Dreamdark publisher has forgotten about me, as I have not been sent copies. Wah! I got a google alert for the Brazilian Blackbringer (yay!) but have only onscreen proof of its existence. Which does not feed  The Shelf. 

Anyway, all is well-beyond-well here. Now, to get to work on the current book!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

** Back to the Future box: when George McFly (Crispin Glover) gets a box of his new book from his publisher? Most writers I know remember that scene from the movie, while most non-writers seem not to. Funny, no?

By the way, speaking of covers, Stephanie Perkins forwarded me this interesting link on YA fantasy covers for the coming year. Thankee!


Fletcher of the Day said...


Is a Dutch version one of the foreign rights sold? please please please!!!

Congratulations Lizard!!

xx Lori

Laini Taylor said...

Lori, last I heard, Dutch = NO! But my fingers are crossed! :-) XO

dawn said...

WOW! you inspire me!!

holy cow! sitting down to finish (technical manuscript ~ 6000 words now)! so small in comparison, but no less daunting.

love, love, love this post. tell jim to not be coy. we all know that he can (and does occasionally) bust a move. ;)

Andrea Eames said...

Wow, that's amazing! Congratulations! I remember that BTTF scene so clearly. A whole box of shiny new books - must have smelled so good and inky and fresh-papery!

wendy said...

oh man that is the coolest - also makes me laugh about your tiny workers - we talk about them all the time - mostly when they are overwhelmed or not super happy with their larger person.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off subject, but when you mentioned that your Dreamdark publisher might have forgotten about you I thought up a question. Any word on when Silksinger will be released for the Kindle? If I click the "I'd like to read this book on Kindle" link anymore I'm afraid I'm going to wear out my mouse. :)

Evie said...

Congratulations on all the awesome sauce! (fat free, calorie free, sweet and gooey and sticky and the very best kind. Ever.) I bet you're all smiley and radiating happiness around your world.

"The editor helps the author shape the book into its best possible self." I'm going to print this out and read it every morning. I know a bad book would never make it this far, but these words are my ammunition against my nasty, relentless inner critic.

Tiny brain people working the gears and levers...LMAO. My tiny brain people need a chair and a whip. I'm afraid to enable Freedom, but even if I did, I think I'd find a way around it (tiny brain people always plotting)

Morning are for new words. True that!

tone almhjell said...

Good heavens! Good heavens! FY S├śREN!

Eighteen! Eighteen! Eighteen!

I'm about to pop a vein, here!


(Now excuse me while I do a little dance here!)


megwrites said...

Thanks for the inside view on all the steps that go into publishing a book--that was very interesting. There is a lot more post-final manuscript work than I realized.
Any idea when the release date for Daughter of Smoke and Bone will be?

persnickety_jen said...

Jim may be the cool guy with his James Dean lean, but we all know better. HIS brain people are probably throwing a kegger in honor of your foreign triumphs! (Because selling a book to 18 different countries is nothing short of a triumph. Kudos to you - and your agent!)

Cannot wait until you get the go ahead to share the cover and the flap copy!

Jennifer Morian Frye said...

SO AWESOME!!! Wow! (Needless to say, we who live vicariously through you will need to see photos of the Super-Awesome Shelf when the time comes.)


Also, thankyouthankyouthankyou for the happiness and laughter that you have given us today.....I really needed it.

Anonymous said...

"There is a reason that publisher's get 90%, people. I do not begrudge them a nickle of it."

Hmmm . . . maybe the real reason may be because they CAN, which is a pretty crappy reason, when you think about it. While you are free not to begrudge, the truth is that without the author, the book would not exist. Period. It is much, much easier to work with a product that is already there (i.e. editing, proofreading, promoting) than try to make one from scratch, as we authors do. And with all the burden of promotion that is laid at the feet of (especially new) authors these days, I don't think the 90%/10% ratio is as fair as it could be.

Writers literally CREATE WORLDS. We should never forget that, no matter how much others may try to downplay it.

On a happier note, mazel tov on your amazing success, Laini. I hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I8....with more surely on the way!(-: Is Bulgarian one of them? It deserves to be published in EVERY language. So happy and proud of you!!!!!!

Laini Taylor said...

Cat: see, the BTTF box. It's true!

Wendy, :-)

Tone, I know! SQUEEE!

Meg, yeah, there's a lot going on there. The pub date is October, but I'm not sure what day.

Persnickety_Jen, ha ha. Yes, who knows what is going on with Jim's brain men, really :-)

Jennifer, thank you!!

Anonymous, well, yes, I guess there's that too :-) it's true there are a lot of expectations on authors these days. I'm no accountant (by ANY means), so I certainly can't dissect the numbers, but I don't *think* that publishers are exactly making a killing. Sure, I'd love to get a bigger cut, but when I think about all the work I'm not doing (and never could) in the way of selling, distribution, production, etc, I am pretty okay with the way things are. Maybe that's ignorance on my part -- I really have no business sense!

Thinnychoo, no Bulgarian yet! To my knowledge anyway. But I think there is a pretty good market there for YA fantasy, so maybe some day!

Shveta Thakrar said...

Oh, Laini, so, so, so fantastic! I cannot wait to read this book. Do you know what the release date is yet? I hope it'll be ready by Sirens. :D

*happy dances with you*

Eighteen languages! Whoo-hoo!

Have fun with the first-pass pages when you start them!

--jenna said...

While I haven't seen the Portuguese versions yet, I just googled it and at least one bookstore is selling Blackbringer online. Time to go shopping at a BIG bookstore, I think, and I'd love to give these as gifts to some kids I know. Libraries just really don't exist in Rio de Janeiro...and that is a VERY BAD THING.

Stephanie Perkins said...


That's WONDERFUL! Congratulations!!!

Unknown said...

I. Am so. Excited. To read. This book. So much so that it requires a lot of pausing for emphasis.

VioletHawthorne said...

YES. The Back to the Future box. I have only seen that movie all the way through once, about five years ago, and I still vividly remember that box. I hear about it all over the writing world. It makes me feel happy.

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