Holding My Breath

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.

16 thoughts on “Holding My Breath

  1. Congratulations and congratulations! Love all you wrote here about the writing process. Love that the end of “Second Watch” still makes you cry. Can’t wait to read!

  2. Thanks for telling us about the involved process to get the books into our hot little hands! We appreciate all your work and enjoy the final product immensely!

  3. The process sounds grueling at the least. However, please keep doing it. My husband and I have been having our own book club. It is called “Reading J.A. Jance”. He has read 16 of your novels in the past couple of weeks, mostly the Beaumont series. I have only read seven since there are many household chores to do. He had read some of them before, however, chose to reread them. We have two places here in Washington about 3 hours apart and I had saved stacks of your books in both places, saying to myself, someday I will read through them all, even though I had read some in the past. You have given us great pleasure. We will be back at the used paperback bookstore in Shelton in a few weeks to pick up the ones we do not have or had recycled in the past and need to buy once more. Keep writing. I love J.P.!

    • Dear Josephine,

      Thanks for the kind words in response to “Holding my breath.” I’m thrilled to know that you and your husband have embarked on a “Reading J.A. Jance” project. Sounds like you’ll be totally up to speed by the time the new Beaumont comes out in September.

  4. I met Joanna and fell in love. Then I realized that Joanna and J.P. had a common creator. I was in love again! Met the Walker tribe; they creeped me out! Then I met Ali, and once again I was enthralled. Now I read your blog and so appreciate the the glimpses you afford us of a writer’s life. Thank you for letting us share your literary “family”. I am in your debt.

  5. I always love reading your blogs (and your sense of humor). I had fallen behind so had the treat of catching up. In the nature line – I just had to say my final goodbye to my Lilac Crowned Amazon – she was over 50 years old and had been with me for over 35 years. She was disabled when she joined my household so she really did live a long time.I had been with her longer than I had any human being. Our “critters” really do add so much to our lives. Enjoy your week off!

    • Dear Marjorie,

      Please accept my condolences on the loss of your wonderful bird. People who don’t miss the creatures in their lives once they’re gone shouldn’t have had them in the first place. My husband and I just had a little ceremony where we placed the urn with our last golden retriever’s ashes in a special spot in our garden.


  6. I have loved your books since Leslie N. gave me the first one for my birthday and took me to the Dog House for a book signing. There I bought the “Fire” poetry book. I have read all the way through all the books 3 times, once when I was sooooo sick I was in bed for months, started with the first and read all the way through. I’ve done that probably 2 more times. Still love JP the best! Probably because it’s Seattle. Looking forward to that book coming out then.
    Have a great week off. Happy summer.

  7. so glad to read that you are not going to retire any time soon.looking forward to your new books.

  8. Thank you for giving us a peek into the process of writing and publishing your books. I had no idea the process was so involved. Thank you for all you do and your creative talent you share with the world. I love all your books especially JPB, Ally & Joanna. Looking forward to buying and reading the next book on my Kindle. My girl friend Joan does too then we discuss the book. What fun! Thank you again for your wonderful Blog. It always is fun to read and keep up with you, Bella and the family.

  9. Add me to the list of your followers who read and reread your books . I am still trying to see you at your bookstore talks, but missed you in Wickenburg, and also in Portland. Anxious to read your new book in September. Thanks for making my days better as I read.

  10. Am I slow or what? I did not realize there was a comment section on the blog. I am curious as to how you ended up with 2 separate publishers, someone let you get away?

  11. I wish you had not said “Second Watch” made you cry. Now, I am holding my breath!! That scares me! Beaumont is my all time favorite character! I had just changed to mysteries from popular fiction in the 90’s. I bought one of the J. P. Beaumont series & fell in love. I had to have more! Bought the next, but needed more! Proceeded to used bookstore in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, & Tennessee to hunt for the earlier books of the series. I found them all and like a cat to cream-I gobbled them all up. I found the first one last in a little shop in Mississippi AND it made me cry! You, Ms. Jance are not a fairy godmother. I reluctantly passed on my collection to my brother, he to his daughter, she to my sister. Now you are read by my sons. Ms. Jance, you are a family affair. Holding MY Breath!

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