How to complete a New-York-published novel

One of my favorite people, famous Hollywood agent turned famous novelist Maggie Marr told me, when we were both unpublished and she went by Margaret, “There’s published, and there’s New York published.  We want to be New York published.”  And, only a few million words and a few zillion rejections later, we are.

A fan who was doing an English paper about Orphan’s Journey asked me how long it would take to “complete” the next Jason Wander book, Orphan’s Alliance, which Orbit will release in November, 2008.  My answer may be of interest to someone who also wants to be New-York-published.  Here it is:

When will Orphan’s Alliance be complete?  Not such a simple question.
It took me about six months to complete the manuscript for Orphan’s Alliance.  But there is no good writing, there is only good rewriting.  This is as true of English papers as of novels, by the way. 
So “completing” a manuscript isn’t “completing” the book you will see on store shelves.  I turned my manuscript in to my editor in New York on 1/1/08.  She and an assistant editor sent me back comments and proposed changes 1/31/08.  I rewrote some things, then sent the new version back to New York on 2/21/08.  Next a “copy editor” reviewed the revised manuscript for grammar, and for stuff like on page 2 this character has red hair and on page 200 he has brown hair.  She sent it to me again to decide which of those changes I would accept.  I returned the Copy Edited Manuscript 4/24/08.  While all of this was going on, I also submitted the first few pages of the next book, which will appear at the end of Alliance as a “teaser.”  And the publisher sent me the Orphan’s Alliance cover art and cover copy for comment (comment: the cover looks wicked cool). 
Soon I will receive yet another version, the typeset pages, called “first pass pages,” to review one last time for errors.  In a prior book, I noticed that the first pass somehow left out two lines on page 12.  Without them the rest of the book would have made no sense.  This version will also be bound as a small printing of Advance Reading Copies, also called “galleys,” that will be distributed early to reviewers at newspapers, at the SciFi Channel, and so forth.
Then, the first run of the books will be printed and shipped to booksellers in the US and the British Commonwealth countries.  On November 1, 2008, eleven months after it was “completed,” the book will go on sale in stores and for download in various ebook formats.




4 Responses to “How to complete a New-York-published novel”

  1. » Blog Archive » Orbit Links for May 16 2008 Says:

    […] From Robert Buettner we learn that there’s a subtle difference between finishing a book and actually completing a book. […]

  2. In Romania for the next 6 months « Gods and Dragons Says:

    […] has a wordpress blog and I’ll add it to the blog roll on the right side.  He has a post, How to complete a New-York-published novel, dated May 14, 2008.  It was very interesting to read and if you have an idea that you would like […]

  3. Robert Buettner Says:


    I’ve been delayed in responding to posts and fanmail lately, due to personal issues, specifically what our Gergia neighbors call a tornado and what we used to call in Kansas an abnormally windy day. No injuries and no property damage we can’t handle, but sorry to those of you who haven’t heard from me lately.

  4. » Blog Archive » Orbit Links for May 30 2008 Says:

    […] Robert Buettner describes the long road from finishing a book to publishing a book. […]

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