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Hot off the presses

March 24, 2016

I printed the fourth draft of my book today, which is the second version I’ve printed. I don’t really have a clear demarcation between drafts, but any time I’ve made a major structural change or have shifted to a different phase of composition, I’ve jumped to the next draft. Any reader would be able to see the major differences from one draft to the next (that is, if I let anyone read them yet).

This one is more than a hundred pages longer than my first draft, coming in at a sturdy 461. I’m in the home stretch of the research phase but still have a few placeholders in there, and I definitely expect it to clear 500 at some point and maybe even hit 600. But no one is going to be publishing a 600-page book, so I’ll need to pare it down significantly at some point.

Aside from the few big fish I have lined up to talk to (in most cases, talk to again), I’m hitting diminishing returns on my interviews. This is a good thing. There’s no chance I publish this book and don’t find someone after the fact that I should have interviewed, but I’m being as diligent as I can be with regards to interview subjects. The fact that they’ve been rapidly decreasing in their utility means there’s not much more ground to cover (in terms of content if not in terms of people). The more often I can answer “Has anyone told you about…” with “Yes, actually, but please continue,” the closer I am to feeling like I’ve gotten all of the content I need. I don’t know what I don’t know, but I’m confident there’s not much left for me to learn.

I’m fixing to read through this hard copy a few times. The first run is just for copy editing, mostly. Fixing clunky sentences and weak style, and maybe moving some things around. The second run is to come up with sort of a task list. That is, figure out all of the pieces I need to either heavily rewrite or actually write in the first place. From there, I can prioritize each passage (mostly based on whether I need additional research to do so, and how much) and then actually do that work. It should give me a very clear road map for how to actually finish this tome. I don’t know that I can come up with even a rough timeline yet given a few outstanding interviews (which will definitely happen, but it’s impossible for me to say when just yet), but it will at least give me an idea of how much work is left to be done. I suspect it’s not much. Once I have everything I want in that manuscript, I can go about pruning it down to a manageable length, reorganizing to whatever extent I think it’s necessary, and polishing it into something I can start shopping around to publishers.

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