Last week, I handed my next novel off to the copyeditor. If all goes according to schedule, she’ll have it wrapped up by the end of March, and I’ll be able to release it around the start of May.
Ships of My Fathers is the first of a five-book series set in the same universe as Beneath the Sky, though it’s neither sequel nor prequel. In truth, it happens in parallel to Beneath the Sky and touches on one or two minor characters from that book, most notably Father Chessman and the Yoshido pirate syndicate. Chessman is not the central character, by far, but in search of a good-sounding tagline, this might very well end up being known as the Father Chessman Saga. I’ll say more about it as the release approaches, but until now I suppose it’s been nothing more than a title to everyone but my beta readers.
Handing it off to my copyeditor is a strange milestone for me because it marks the beginning of the hurry-up-and-wait stage. I still consider copyediting to be part of my polish process, but until I get those edits back, there’s very little for me to do. That sudden inactivity comes on the heels of a major push to reach that point, so in some ways I’m still hearing my writing-brakes squeal.
When I started the year, I set a schedule that called for an “editing” deadline in late January, but when February 1st rolled around, I was nowhere close to being done. Knowing that much of the rest of the schedule would be out of my hands (copyedits, bake time at printers and retailers, shipping time for galley proofs, etc.), I realized that if I missed my end-of-February deadline, there was no hope of catching up. So I doubled my efforts and did three different editing passes in February:
- I finished the story edits, incorporating the beta feedback. The book grew about 5000 words along the way.
- I did a word-crafting pass, beefing up my word choices, slaying weak adverbs, adding more colorful metaphors, and just getting rid of really annoying filler words like “just” and “really”.
- Then I did my own copyedit pass and found some truly awful errors that had amazingly slipped past every one of my own reads as well as those of my beta readers.
In the end, I missed my deadline by two days, passing it off near midnight on March 1st rather than my original February 27th goal. It now stands at about 85,000 words, and I think I’ve read it beginning to end at least four times. At this point, I’m strangely ambivalent about it. In some ways I’m sick of it, but in other ways, I’m reveling in it. This one bit towards the end still makes me tear up, even after that many readings. So, either I’m incredibly narcissistic, or the book is pretty good… though I suppose both could be true.
So now I’m edging into the publishing process, even as the polishing process is wrapping up. I’ll be doing a rough cut of the print formatting so that I can get an approximate page count. This is necessary to calculate the spine width, and I need that to correctly size the wraparound cover. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with it, image and text-wise, but I’m still toying around with fonts and such. I also need to think forward to the next four books and their likely covers, so that the series will have a more unified look.
And I’m also starting to think about other projects. I’m going to revise the cover of Beneath the Sky and get back to the edits on Hell Bent. Hopefully I’ll be handing that over to my beta readers about the same time I get my copyedits back on Ships of My Fathers. And then I need to start thinking about drafting a new novel from scratch, quite possibly the sequel to Hell Bent, tentatively titled Stone Killer.