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The Mountain is High But the Reading Is Great

March 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

In the past 3 weeks, I've read over 1300 manuscript pages for the purpose of critiquing or blurbing.  That's not excessive by the standards of some writers, critiquers and/or editors, but it's a hell of a lot for me.  I read slowly, and I don't like to read entire books on screen—I much prefer paper.  (But given the choice I'll read on screen rather than print out an entire book!)

Or, more accurately, I should say I don't gravitate toward reading novels on my laptop.  But I don't mind at all when I'm so engaged in what I'm reading.  As was the case these past few weeks!

For the morbidly curious, here's the rough breakdown.  Page counts are from memory, so rounded in cases when I don't remember the exact length.

Writers group:

170 page novel excerpt + 270 page novel excerpt + 20 page novel excerpt + 49 page short story = 509 pages.

Complete novels to be published next year:

Box Office Poison, book two of the Halls of Power series by Phillipa Bornikova (sequel to This Case is Gonna Kill Me), forthcoming from Tor Books: ~420 pages.

Debris, first volume of the Veiled Worlds Trilogy by Jo Anderton, forthcoming from Angry Robot: 424 pages.

It might look like a lot of critical reading, but it's really not much of a burden when you (a) like to read anyway, and (b) enjoy the stuff your colleagues are writing.  So in my case I feel less like I was snowed under than I feel like I got to read some really great stuff. I especially enjoy the feeling of superiority it gives me, knowing I've read really fantastic books long before the general public.

It makes me feel like a big man.  A big important man.

And this is probably a pretty typical manuscript reading load for authors who interact with a group of colleagues.  I know that others' feedback on my work is always invaluable.


Victor Milan March 8, 2011 at 12:59 am
And you are, indeed, a big important man! While I'm glad *I* didn't have to read all that (granted, because I committed the largest chunk - and regret having added so much to the load, since I do find it overwhelming sometimes) I feel the same joy at getting to read great stuff long before anybody else does. Case in point: at the Albuquerque Science Fiction Society meeting in January BITTER SEEDS came up. I told the group I'd read the whole trilogy. Before I could get to my point (that you'd, contrary to expectation and indeed the laws of nature, Pulled It Off), at least three people exclaimed in unison, "You bastard!" So, yeah. Simple pleasures.
Steve Halter March 8, 2011 at 10:47 am
Having the inside track on something is, indeed, a cool and sometimes surreal experience. It's cool in that you get to read it (or know about it) way early. It's surreal when you're around other people who haven't read it and you can't even say much about it.
Steve Halter March 8, 2011 at 10:54 am
As a good example, I hadn't realized that The Milkweed Triptych was all done--cool. (Victor, grrr :-)). About when are they coming out?
Ian March 8, 2011 at 11:46 am
And you are, indeed, a big important man! I don't use the word "hero" very often, but I may very well be the greatest hero in history. Just saying. I told the group I'd read the whole trilogy. Before I could get to my point (that you'd, contrary to expectation and indeed the laws of nature, Pulled It Off) Thanks, dude. That means a lot to me. Especially since if Tor has its way nobody will ever get to read these fucking books.
Ian March 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm
I've sometimes gotten myself into trouble by talking about stuff that happens later in a series than has actually been published. I hate it when I do that because I hate spoilers, and hate myself even more for being a source of spoilers... Yep, the Milkweed books are done. As for publication dates, I wish I could tell you. Tor has changed the publication date for THE COLDEST WAR at least twice on me-- the book keeps getting delayed for a variety of extremely disheartening and infuriating reasons. (The manuscript sat on my editor's desk untouched for 20 months. I turned it in on time.) It's a really long story and I'm going to make a blog post about it. The good news is that I have a new editor at Tor, and she has done more in two weeks than was done in the past year previously. I'm happy about the new arrangement. I'm supposed to receive editorial feedback on COLDEST WAR this month. Assuming Tor doesn't lie to me again (don't hold your breath), the mass market paperback of BITTER SEEDS should be out June-ish of next year, with COLDEST WAR following the next month.
Steve Halter March 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm
That's really unfortunate, but hopefully on track now.
Ian March 8, 2011 at 11:09 pm
Thank you, Steve. I hope it's back on track now, too. I had just about given up all hope before the new editor came along; I'm much happier since meeting her.
Victor Milan March 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm
Well, yay so far, anyway!
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