Book Scheduling

Posted: May 17th, 2012 under Limits of Power, Marketing, the writing life.
Tags: ,

It looks like Limits of Power will be a summer book, not a spring book, next year.   My new editor took on the heroic task of reading the entire Paksworld corpus before leaping into the new book–and I was delighted that she did so.   But that was eight previous books–none of them skinny–and she had other duties besides working on my book; she wants to do one more read of that before giving me her revision requests, which I won’t get until the end of the month.     So instead of trying to rush the production schedule, which is a good way to introduce accidental errors,  the planned release date has been pushed back.     It’s not set in stone yet, but it’s “fairly firm” for June.

I know this will disappoint  many of you (and me, as well) but it will produce a better book than if she had rushed into reading it without having a solid background in the whole Paksworld mythos, or tried to rush it through the production stages.    It will have a reasonable time for copy-editing, for  review of the copy-editing,  conversion to its multiple formats, etc.  This is all to the good.     (And where did my cursor go???  It suddenly disappeared for no reason…the words do appear where I click on the page, but it’s hard to place the click accurately when there’s no marker.)

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to work on Book V, and as soon as I know an absolutely firm date for publication, I’ll get back to you.   You’ll be glad to know (I hope) that I’m sparing you a long, boring stretch of days at sea with nothing for my POV character to do but wonder when it will ever end.  And another long boring stretch of someone recovering from an injury–you get some of that, but not a day by day, because that would require another book.  Or four.  (And those other books may be written, but not now.  This one has to be on the bit and moving with impulsion to the end.  Which I hope agrees to die itself up into a very decorative knot.


  • Comment by Jenn — May 17, 2012 @ 10:16 am


    Okay I will try not to pout too much. I mean its only another 4-6 months wait. And it is for the good is suppose. Cheers to your editor for being so dedicated to making a good story and not a deadline.

    Long boring outtakes at sea are always welcome in the snippet section (after book four of course to avoid spoilers).

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — May 17, 2012 @ 10:33 am


    Good for her. Must have been even before she’d heard that you were officially among the “prominent international thinkers debating big ideas” set!

    So will this set back the schedule for book V? Or will it only be nine months (or so) between Limits and V? Either way is good–shorter turn around for your fans between the last two installments or more time for you to wrap up the whole package with a nice big bow!

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 17, 2012 @ 10:54 am


    Jenn: Yes, I was impressed and delighted that she really did want to dig through the entire Paksworld experience. The concern with any new editor (and I’ve been through this before) is that they may be rushed by a publisher to read–at most–the book right before, and thus fail to understand why certain things are as they are. I suspected, a month ago, that the pub date might have to be set back, because I know how much time Production eats up (doing it right, that is) and how they’d have to find an open hole down the line to slot this book into. But once over the “Oh, NO!” reaction I had then, realized that it’s better to come out with a better book, and more time for more eyes on the pages.

    Daniel: I don’t know what this will do to the schedule for Book V. My guess–and it’s only a guess–is that it will indeed set it back to a year from Limits, but I’m sure a lot will depend on New Editor’s feel for how “clean” Book V is likely to be–how much structural editing it will need, and thus how much time she’ll need to schedule to work on it after I turn it in. Also, with the Paksworld books shifting in the schedule, they’ll be rubbing shoulders with different other books scheduled for the same period…and publishers like to balance things out (rather than have all the epic fantasies coming out the same month, for instance.)

  • Comment by Gareth — May 17, 2012 @ 10:56 am


    Does this mean you will have a decent shot at completing a first draft of V before you have to switch back to IV. I’ve always thought it must be really hard switching between writing new stuff in the book n+1 while also editing/changing/rewriting bits of book n.

    I guess I’m echoing Daniel’s hope that the gap between IV and V may be shorter.

  • Comment by Kerry aka Trouble — May 17, 2012 @ 11:33 am


    Sounds like the new editor is off to a great start. Here’s hoping that Book V TIES itself up rather than DIE (last sentence.)

  • Comment by Ed Schoenfeld — May 17, 2012 @ 11:50 am


    I don’t know. I though ‘die itself up’ was a nice turn of phrase, all redolent with plot line resolution and significant character growth. 🙂

  • Comment by Annabel (Mrs Redboots) — May 17, 2012 @ 12:58 pm


    Oh well, it will be all the better for the wait, no doubt! What’s more, it will come out (I hope) in time for my 60th birthday on 14 June 2013 – now, who can I persuade that this would be a fantastic birthday present…..

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 17, 2012 @ 1:03 pm


    Gareth: yes, it is difficult to switch back and forth–at least for me. But there’s no chance I’ll finish V before I’m deep in production work on LOP: I expect her letter by the end of the month, and then I have to switch to revisions, followed by copy editing and so on. I must also do more work on the master map, something I haven’t touched for months because of the other demands.

    It’s just part of the job for a writer who’s on a yearly (or sooner, for some writers, and how they do it I don’t know!!) schedule. My deadline doesn’t change because the publication date changes on their end. We have to learn to multi-task: do the promotional jobs of a new book coming out, the production jobs of a book recently turned in, and first=drafting on the next.

    At least I’m not having to do ALL the jobs: if I were self-publishing, and wanted to produce books as complicated as these, I’d have to hire editorial help, and then schedule and supervise it. A friend of mine is a freelance editor and another is a freelance copy editor–they are often booked months in advance, so if I wanted to use them (or someone of their quality) I’d have to act like a publisher and know ahead of time when I’d need their services. The production stuff, doing it myself, would take up more hours and be more distracting from the actual writing. And then there’s the book design and the art stuff…cover art, the maps, etc.

    Kerry & Ed: Yes, yes, that’s a typo. It should be “ties,” of course. But I suppose I’ll have to leave it so your comments make sense, rather than edit it to what it should be. (Sigh. But I did turn the heels of both green socks successfully, so…part of my brain is working.)

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — May 17, 2012 @ 2:47 pm



    Actually I was hoping for Elizabeth’s sake that it was a full year out since it will give her more time. Sure it would be nice to see it sooner than later. But it’s been such good writing so far I’d rather see Elizabeth have plenty of time than to rush it and not have as fine of finsh–especially for the last book in the series. And from all Elizabeth has written it’s been difficult to stay on schedule the past number of weeks, so I suspect she could use a few more weeks since, as she just wrote, she’s going to have to go jumping back and forth for a while between the edits and then all the release date stuff to juggle.

    I’m just wishing for a good (grand?! :-O ) finished product.

  • Comment by Genko — May 17, 2012 @ 7:34 pm


    I have to say I’m amazed that you manage all the things you do — all of these books sometimes acting like unruly children demanding attention, one racing off in one direction while another tugs in another direction. Never mind the rest of your life stuff, which is by no means insignificant.

    I wonder whether you will be glad or a little sad (or maybe both) when Book V is completed. Or more likely involved with the next big project by then, whatever that might be.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 17, 2012 @ 8:01 pm


    Genko: Often by the end of one group of books, the next is knocking on the inside of my head (it was toward the end of Vatta’s War, for instance. I wanted to get back to Paks and thought I knew what I would write about…surprise!) But that doesn’t always happen…sometimes there’s a few months of rumination as I figure out what’s next. I’m not at all sure I’m ready to leave the Paks universe–but again, publisher decisions play a part in what I do, since the money is…er…useful.

    We’ll see. Right now concerns about Limits of Power and Book V are dominating the writing side of my brain. If Book V comes to a finish that satisfies me, then I’ll be glad, though maybe a little sad at the same time…it was a good trip, but now it’s over and I have to face decisions of a different order.

  • Comment by Moira — May 18, 2012 @ 4:32 am


    My cursor never disappears: she’s permanently ensconced in my cerebral cortex and speaks up frequently! OH, you meant… never mind. 😉

    As the others have said, good on Ms. N. Editor for plunging in with both feet, and what a treat for her to immerse herself in the Paks universe. Of course we’ll all be chewing our nails for an extra few months, but anything worth having is worth waiting for – so no worries there. I hope the publishers manage to balance things to suit you and don’t shorten the gap between LoP and V; I think we’re all agreed that thorough is preferable to rushed (not to mention easier on you).

    Re: what comes after V – gosh, I know I haven’t thought that far ahead. But honestly, I’d be happy whatever it is. I loved both SF series, I love Paksworld, and if you decide to head off in a completely new and different direction then I’ll happily tag along for the ride!

    @Annabel – hope your prezzie works out nicely! 🙂

  • Comment by Karen — May 18, 2012 @ 8:46 am


    When you reported that you would be acquiring a new editor, I felt for you, because I know what a partnership there is that should form between author and editor to produce the best book possible (the marketing department may help sales, but a good content editor is worth his/her weight in gold).

    I’m glad to hear that your new editor has taken on the task of learning Paksworld — if not as well as your greatest fans, at least in a disciplined fashion that will give you room to not only rub shoulders but also nourish the book so that it will grow into what I believe it is likely to become.

    I know that the world of publishing has gotten tighter and harder, but it’s good to know that your books are still getting the honest work they deserve.

    Besides, the delay gives me something to refuse to let anything else get in my way as I rush to the store, no matter how long it takes!

  • Comment by Ginny W. — May 18, 2012 @ 9:11 am


    Deleting the expletives that push forward for expression,
    I am very glad that your editor has taken the time to read through the entire series. Echoes picked up a number of threads that have a significant history in the Deed and if the various threads are to continue to be knitted together into a whole story, she will need to have an idea what they are. Otherwise, threads may be snipped untimely. Or a lot of unnecessary recapitulation will make the book too long. So… I am taking a deep breath, and reminding myself that there is more time to read in the summer anyway.

    If the editor is delayed, maybe there will be more time to work on Book V before the crunch comes. I really like the tantalizing snippets, and I am looking forward to the map revisions. Perhaps Elizabeth will discover the lost notebooks have been spelled to look like choral music, or tax returns, or something and they will reappear.

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — May 18, 2012 @ 12:20 pm


    I am going tomorrow – Sunday – to a Raceme of the Black Orchid Society concerning Nero Wolfe. Rex Stout, the author, used to type out a story in a manner of weeks. Issac Asimov wrote literally hundreds of books.

    But Ms. Moon’s are longer than Stout’s and are exceedingly well written.

    I for one can wait for the next one.

    And too bad for the loose ends – there is always the next book, fan fiction, or just speculation on the web. Since Ms. Moon has to do the work, whatever she chooses to put in or leave out is up to here.

  • Comment by Richard — May 19, 2012 @ 12:47 am


    I wonder if New Editor will be reading here as well as the books, to really immerse herself. I hope she finds you a good copy-editor for LoP.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 19, 2012 @ 11:09 am


    Richard: I don’t know whether Editors have enough time to read here…though I know my former UK editor did from time to time. As always, I’d be glad to have New Editor visit when she has time–but she has other books to shepherd through the system than mine. I think it can be valuable for Editors to see what readers think and say, in places like this. But time-consuming.

    I certainly hope for a good CE this time around. Makes a big difference. (One of the good ones I had went AWOL for some mysterious reason–the work she did on that ms. was excellent, but she was so late the publisher dumped her forever. Really sad. A sharp eye for real mistakes, and no apparent desire to rewrite the book.) There’s been a discussion (again) about bad CEs on a writer listserv I’m on (every writer listserv, Yahoo Group, Google group, etc. has these discussions) and we all wonder what kind of instructions publishers are giving, or not giving, CEs. We all agree good ones are marvelous and make our books better…but the bad ones, the ones who miss what they’re supposed to catch, and instead try to rewrite the book…eeeuw. Bad CE files take up a lot of our time to fix….may even make it impossible to meet a deadline. So where do (the bad) CEs get the idea that they are supposed to do content editing, change character names, change plot points, and throw their personal biases onto someone else’s work? And who taught the good CEs how to do their job, and why didn’t that person/class/school teach the bad ones? It is a mystery.

    Personally, I’d favor the person who hires CEs handing each one of them a clear statement of what they can and cannot do as a CE. By the time the CE gets it, the content editor has already received revisions from the writer and accepted the ms. That means the content–the names, the plot, the characterization, the “logic,” all that stuff–has been approved by someone higher up in the ranks than a CE. The CE should not touch that. Fiction CEs should let dialog alone except for obvious typos (“teh” for “the” or “nad” for “and”) and not try to make every speech perfectly grammatical. They should query–not change–words they aren’t sure are right, understanding that in SF/F, in particular, there will be both unusual words and unusual word usage. Feature, not bug. What all of us have commented on, in these group discussions, is that CEs who try to rewrite the book are the ones who miss what they should be noticing and marking: typos, for instance. The fact that Captain Jones’ ship was named Eagle of the Sea in one chapter and the same ship was named Sea Eagle in the next. That character Bob was killed in a skirmish on page 374, but alive and stealing chickens from a peasant on page 428, while Jim (who survived the skirmish) disappears from view on page 376 without explanation and is never heard from again, until Bob (still miraculously restored to life) mentions on page 512 that Jim died in the skirmish. That two minor characters with the same name are a) male and b) female and that’s kind of confusing to readers. All these, or versions of them, happen to everyone who writes books with a lot of characters. But the CE concentrating on converting all the contracted verbs to expanded ones in dialog (or vice versa, or…in one of my books, both, according to some rule or her own), or making the gay characters straight, or cutting out every descriptive passage, or adding “action” dialog tags (yes, there is one who goes around changing “he said” to “he snorted/gasped/muttered/whispered/etc.”) doesn’t pay much attention to these necessary and fiddly tasks–she or he exercises “creativity” in rewriting.

    But there. Let’s all hope for the best, this time.

  • Comment by Moira — May 19, 2012 @ 5:00 pm


    Methinks the people hiring CEs should just come up with a psych profile that weeds out all the frustrated writers.That should solve the problem (or at least what seems the biggest part of it).

    Here’s to a “good ‘un” this time!

  • Comment by Chuck — May 19, 2012 @ 5:13 pm


    The lady who mentored me in copy editing back in the 1970’s firmly believed that a person had to have a gift for it. Having trained a few more people myself since then, I have to agree with her. As far as the boundaries of what the CE is authorized to do, the statement from the publisher, mentioned above, is great. At one time, I think, most publishers had some sort of house “bible” for CE’s. Failing that, however, there is some good guidance in that old standby for editors, “Words into Type.”

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 19, 2012 @ 5:32 pm


    Moira: That might work, though one writer told of getting a CE who was apparently a religious person intent on sanitizing the book to suit her biases…so it’s not just frustrated writers.

    Chuck: The publisher statement is my wishful thinking–I don’t know if any such thing actually exists (if so, some CEs ignore it.)

  • Comment by Moira — May 19, 2012 @ 6:26 pm


    Ah, true – I’d overlooked the instance of “gay editing” you mentioned! Human nature – it’s a wonderful, terrible thing.

  • Comment by Chuck — May 20, 2012 @ 1:35 am


    I’d have expected that in the days when most CE’s were direct employees of the publishers, that there was some sort of “bible” of the house style and that the senior CE’s made sure the newer folks learned what the boundaries were. That’s the way it used to be in the technical editing field in the aerospace industry.
    Now that so much (or all?) of the copyediting is done by freelance employees, you’d think that some sort of written guidelines was even more important.
    However, the idea that so many modern “managers” have that all employees are basically interchangeable units within their field (whether manufacturing line workers or engineers or editors) has had a lot to do with the loss of culture and tribal knowledge within particular disciplines. Sounds like this phenomenon is not isolated to the military-industiral complex.

  • Comment by Genko — May 21, 2012 @ 1:32 pm


    No, indeed. Good CEs are wonderful. I’ve never tried doing this professionally, but I suspect I wouldn’t be so good at it, judging from what I’ve missed in various places (a typo on my own resume as a typesetter, for heaven’s sake — they hired me anyway, thank goodness). And I do tend to gloss over things that don’t fit, automatically changing them to where they make sense. However, as a typesetter, back in the day where we actually had to re-input the text, I was pretty good at catching spelling errors, obvious grammatical errors, etc., and EdQ-ing those things that seemed like they *might* be errors.

    Though I remember one EdQ (not from me, from one of our proofreaders) saying “‘rather unique’ is rather impossible,” which came back from the editor with another note in response: “the author rather likes it.” So we left it alone.

    But when I’m just reading, I sail right over a fair bit of this. Occasional things will slow me down to figure out what they really meant and once in a while an egregious error stops me cold. Most of the time, though, I’m just caught up in the story and don’t let little things like misspellings and anomalies slow me down.

    The loss of tribal culture and knowledge is widespread. When typesetting went the way of desktop publishing, where anyone could play with fonts and layouts electronically, we saw (and still see) some pretty ugly examples of illegible graphic design. My old boss said it took at least three years for a typesetter to be well trained. I mean, you can learn the basics in six months, but it takes quite a bit longer to get a sense of what kinds of fonts and layouts work, for example, and how to structure a job in order to get it done in the optimum amount of time. Again, there are some inherent abilities that help, but real training is a matter of time, proximity, and experience.

    These days, of course, I put what I learned from my 15 years as a typesetter toward a web site and such things. Nothing is wasted.

  • Comment by Elizabeth D. — May 21, 2012 @ 6:06 pm


    I am waiting patiently, and except for your hints, and my own extrapolations, I am not looking ahead except with hope that it will be the best book out on the market! I am sure that it will be too. It only adds to the mystery for me to anticipate what might (and probably won’t) happen; I am most often wrong. I love that you let your characters lead you through the story, and all the intertwined sub-plots somehow come together in the fabric, a far better tapestry than I ever made.

    Sometimes I feel as though I’m in the woods; usually a healing place, but sometimes dark and cloud covered. My husband Kris is on break from his chemo, but his CEA is up a little, and therefore he is going back on to chemo in about a month. We are going to try to go to the steampunk convention this weekend, and Chicon in early Sept., if he can deal with the travel by then. I would wear Paks t-shirts, but I won’t rip-off any copyrights or artist’s work. Best wishes in the meantime! I’ll consider the next book a birthday present (yes, I’m one of those Geminis).

  • Comment by Elizabeth D. — May 21, 2012 @ 8:37 pm


    (Re your post #17: Victorian translations of Jules Verne use interesting “he said, she saids.” Perhaps some of these phrases might have a use in certain contexts.)

    “Oh!” he ejaculated. “I suppose that Congress should abort its current session.”

    “No,” she moaned. “Please do not tell us that a woman in Indiana is jailed for an attempted suicide that resulted in the death of her fetus. Congress should resume.”

    “‘The law is a ass’ quotes Charles Dickens, but Dickens’ grammar was atrocious, so we should now say that the law is prudent,” he related. (etc.)

  • Comment by Iphinome the always wrong — May 21, 2012 @ 9:51 pm


    @Genko Re: typesetting

    Loose lines make the baby Cthluhu cry. For Iphinome they just make her squirm and let out whimpering noises.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 21, 2012 @ 10:00 pm


    Genko and Iphinome: I read David Rodin’s book on a Kindle. Whoever did the formatting did a horrible, terrible, no good-very bad formatting job…some “pages” were impossible to read at anything near a normal speed. Some words were split in two or three for no reason, just to space them out to fill a line. Other lines were opened out the same way but without breaking a word. It took me at least 20% longer to read and understand because of that. Oxford University Press should be ashamed.

  • Comment by Iphinome the always wrong — May 21, 2012 @ 10:07 pm


    @Her Imperial Highness

    When that comes up I invest the kind of time you probably don’t have to crack the DRM and manually edit the file to fix those things (and unjustify the text.)

  • Comment by Jenn — May 23, 2012 @ 6:10 am


    Just another reason to ban the Kindle.

  • Comment by Genko — May 23, 2012 @ 11:23 am


    I love my Kindle, and have found a few instances like those you cite, and definitely prefer unjustified text. It does seem, though, that mostly on the Kindle when a line is going to be atrociously loose, they just let it be ragged, which is a good solution. Most of the worst formatting I’ve found has been in the free books. So far most of the ones I’ve actually purchased have been somewhat reasonable.

    My standards are looser than they would be with a printed book. Maybe I figure I don’t know as much about the formatting constraints so I’m inclined to give them a break. Maybe I figure printed books are also not so good these days, so shrug my shoulders. In any case, as I mentioned, I tend to get caught up in the story and just let things go along.

  • Comment by Gareth — May 24, 2012 @ 8:57 am


    I have seen as lot of what I think are bad trends in books to make the pages ‘prettier’ but in fact harder to read. Smaller print more spaced out and justified both sides so the spacing keeps varying. Speed reader’s nightmare…

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 24, 2012 @ 2:11 pm


    Gareth: One thing I’ve learned is that publishers are more sensitive to direct complaints from readers than passed from readers through writers, for the most part. Though, in the case of damaged books someone’s bought, I’ve had excellent response from all my editors when I’ve passed a complaint upstream. Hurray for them. But for design things you don’t like…tell the publisher. Cover art, cover design, page design, whatever.

    Books are normally justified on both sides–admittedly a problem for fast readers if it makes the lines too loose and spacey. That was my gripe about the OUP book I read on my friend’s Kindle. (Though I really have no idea how some long and technical words got hacked into two or three nonsense words.) They could probably go up a font size and fix that. But again, there are costs to all adjustments. If, say, you get a pre-designed file from a publisher in another zone…but your pages are a different size (or worse, ratio!) and now the pages in the file don’t fit on your paper, you can either spend the money to re-design the page (and that’s someone’s eyes-on-page time, which is costly) or you can use the file as it but just move the font size up or down so it sort-of-fits…a quick, cheap way of handling the problem. My UK published books in the Paksworld are not the same shape as the US published books; UK paper sizes (and ratios) are different. Yet it’s ideal (in some ways at least) to have readers able to discuss a book by page number (and thus the page numbers should be the same, if possible.)

  • Comment by Genko — May 25, 2012 @ 11:04 am


    Yes, that’s one drawback of Kindle — finding page numbers. I got the Deed, and had begun reading it in pdf, and switched over, and had to try to figure out where it would be in the Kindle-formatted version. I had to use a ratio to approximate their numbers, and came close enough to flip a few pages and get to it.

    Basically, I use the Kindle for fiction reading. Anything I’m studying so far I get in hard copy. At least so far, that works better.

  • Comment by Iphinome the always wrong — May 25, 2012 @ 5:50 pm


    @genko I’m the same way. My kindle and kobo are for reading novels, (not that I don’t have a large stack of paperbacks and a shelf full of hardcovers of those as well) anything with footnotes, anything where I need to refer to specific chapters or pages, I go with dead tree.

    Anything I want to get autographed, obviously, also needs to be dead tree though Cory Doctorow did offer to sign my kindle.

    If I were writing e-reader firmware I’d add support for tags to make footnotes into popup windows.

  • Comment by Nigel — May 28, 2012 @ 12:35 am


    Amazon UK have now advised a revised delivery date based upon your note – 11-13 June 2013. Not sure how I will last till then!

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