Here’s how writing works: I write a book. Bill reads it. I install his corrections. I send the corrected manuscript to my agent. She reads it, sends it back, and I install her suggestions and corrections. I send it to my editor, then I hold my breath until I hear from her. She sends her “editorial letter” with her suggestions and corrections. I install them.
After that the editorial letter version of the manuscript goes back to my editor. Once it is approved, I get a pay check. That is the part of the advance on royalties that is called “D & A” for Delivery and Acceptance. Then the most recent version of the manuscript goes to the copy-editor. When it comes back to me again. I reread the manuscript and either approve or disapprove of the copy-editor’s suggestions. The copy-edited manuscript goes back to New York. It goes through another set of editors and then it is type-set. At that point the type-set manuscript called a galley or page proofs comes back to me where it has to be reread once again. This is the last moment to make any corrections or changes.
As you can imagine, this process takes months. By the time we’re at galley stage, I usually find myself HATING whatever book it is. By then there are no surprises in the story, and there is nothing that moves me, either. An exception to that rule of thumb happened when I worked on the galleys for “Second Watch,” the upcoming Beaumont book. The end of that one still made me cry, even at the page proof stage.
Before I sent my editor the manuscript for Ali # 9, my editor had suggested that we name the book “Target.” I didn’t like that one much because I felt obliged to say “Target, the book, as opposed to Target, the store.” My agent read the manuscript and suggested that the title should be changed to “Moving Target.” I liked it. My editor liked it. Marketing liked it. So “Moving Target” it is.
Right now I’m at the “holding my breath” stage of the process. The manuscript for “Moving Target” is in New York. I don’t know if my editor will love it or hate it. I don’t know how much work will be required in her editorial letter. I’m reluctant to start on the next Joanna book until I get this one out of my system.
That means that this week I am not a writer. I’m doing some of the routine medical visits that aren’t fun but have to be done. I’ve done some shopping for clothing to take on tour and on a cruise that’s scheduled for later this summer. I’m going to be doing some Grandma Duty. We actually played a round of golf and saw the new Star Trek movie. We’re also having some gardening work pulled together, including installing some water lilies and some fish-pond heron-squiriting equipment.
It’s hard to do all that while holding my breath, but 48 books into the process I’ve become something of an expert.
On Monday I have a phone call scheduled where we’ll be discussing the tour for Second Watch in September. Beaumont is with one publisher and Ali is with the other. That means I have two entirely separate sets of editors and publicity people.
Life is full. Life is busy. And I have no intention of retiring any time soon.
Oh, if there are some of my fans who are cruise fanciers, I’ve just agreed to do a lecture on the Silver Seas cruise we’ll be doing in the Baltic in the second half of July, coming and going from Copenhagen. I’m not sure if there are cabins still available, but come and join us if you can.