Last Chapter Done!

Oct 23 2008 Published by under Flash

I just finished writing the 10th and last chapter of AdvancED ActionScript 3.0 Animation!

While it’s always an great feeling to type in that last sentence, hit save and exit and attach it to an email, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

I know many of you have probably been involved with with writing books in some capacity, but for those of you who haven’t, generally the process goes something like this:

1. The author writes the chapter and sends it in.

2. The main editor reviews it, makes sure it’s on track, on subject, communicates clearly. He makes any corrections, suggestions, questions, and passes it on to the technical reviewer(s).

3. Tech reviewers are usually not employees of the publisher, but experts in the field. For AASA, the tech reviewer is Seb Lee-Delisle (and he’s doing a great job). They make sure the author isn’t saying something totally wrong or naive, put a line in on best practices, and test all the code to make sure it actually works.

4. At this point, the chapter comes back to the author full of markup from the editor and tech reviewer. The author fixes stuff up, makes things more clear, handles any queries, or ignores it all and calls the reviewer an idiot. (Not Seb of course!)

5. The chapter then goes to the copy editor. This is a person who speaks and writes English like we speak and write code. For my chapters, this usually involves the removal of about 10 commas per page, and several dozen unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. They don’t seem to like practically, virtually, somewhat, actually, etc. nearly as much as I do. And they are always switching like, and such-as around. These people could make Miss South Carolina look like she knew what she was talking about.

6. The chapter then comes back to the author again to handle any notes by the copy editor. Generally, this means conceding that they are smarter than me and signing off on all their changes. But there’s also a lot of “what does ‘it’ refer to here?” type of questions that I need to clarify. Oh, and they make you shorten your lines of code to something like 72 characters. That gets creative.

7. Back to the publisher again. So far we’ve been working with Word documents. Now someone lays it out, puts all the art in and creates a PDF document that will be used to print the book itself.

8. Again it comes back to the author for the last round of checks. You’re not really allowed to do much here. You can’t change any text as it’s going to totally mess up the layout. All you can do is insert notes saying what should be changed. Formatting, font styles, image placement. If you spot anything in the text itself that’s majorly wrong, you might convince them to change it, but if it’s just a matter of, “I could have described this a little better,” it’s way too late at this stage of the game.

9. Author makes notes, they maybe fix it, it goes to the printer and magically appears on the bookstore shelves.

So, step 1 is done. All chapters written.

For steps 2, 3, and 4, we are done with six chapters. I have chapter 7 in my inbox ready to see how much Seb has berated my crappy code this time. :)

Steps 5 and 6 are the copy edit. We have four chapters done on that.

And the production edit, steps 7 and 8, only one chapter done on that.

So what’s left is:

4 tech edits
6 copy edits
9 production edits

19 chapters to work on still. Tech edits take anywhere from an hour or two up to several hours to get through. The copy and production edits are usually an hour or two at the most.

So, therefore, yeah, actually, there is pretty much somewhat of a fair amount of work still to go, but, I can practically see the light, at the end of the tunnel, virtually! (Take that copy editor!)

18 responses so far. Comments will be closed after post is one year old.

  • I want this book. Send me a copy when you finish it. :)

  • Tyler Egeto says:


    I Can’t wait till it comes out! I am sure I will be able to blame you for many hours of lost sleep. :)

  • ericzoo says:

    I’ve always wonders the economics of it all. Can you talk about the cost / payment / profit side of it next? pretty please.

  • julien says:

    Can’t wait to read that one, good luck for the end

  • Shoom says:

    Making room in my shelve already!

  • X-Tender says:

    YAY! \o/
    Cant wait to order it!!

  • Lawrie says:

    Good work Keith. I’m looking forwards to it, you’ve got another eager customer waiting here.

  • kp says:

    ericzoo. i won’t give exact numbers, but generally you agree on an advance, which is generally in the upper end of 4 figures for a single author book. multiple authors would split the advance. then generally you get paid that advance in 1/3s based on whatever is in the contract. 1/3 when you finish x number of chapters, 1/3 when you finish another amount, final when you are done. Then you get a percentage of sales as royalty. the percentage could be anywhere from 6-12 maybe. sometimes it increases with the numbers sold. so you start out at a lower percentage and get more as you get more sales. the royalties initially go to pay off your advance. so if you got an $8000 advance, the first $8000 of your royalties will go towards that. if you make more than that in royalties, then you start seeing quarterly checks. if your book never makes enough to pay back your advance (which is usually the case) then the publisher usually takes the loss. you don’t have to pay back your advance.

  • eme says:

    Congratulations! Make us know when it is available for purchase/contest ;)

  • Thibault says:

    Hi Keith,

    Nice post, I am currently in the same situation, funny to read we are all working this way :)

  • Willem says:

    My copy of Actionscript 3.0 Animation is awaiting its smarter brother’s arrival with excitement. I just can’t wait to see them together on the shelve, gossiping about the Processing section a little further, next to the Blender books, ..

    Flocking, inverse Kinematics with the new API, .. (drool)

  • It will be a “must buy” I think :)

  • T says:

    The countdown begins…

    I can’t wait.

  • Dan says:

    I am awash with an-tic-i-PATION!

    BTW, wish I had someone to check over my code on so that I wouldn’t look like such an idiot sometimes. I guess that’s what comments are for. :-)

  • Jen deHaan says:

    Congrats! Can’t wait to see it!

    I think you forgot the step that involves weeping at 4:30am because you can’t remember when you last slept :)

  • JLM says:

    Well done Keith can’t wait.

  • J says:

    Looking forwards to it, I’m a huge fan of your work.

    Keep it up.

    Could you send me a copy once it’s published, I would love to have a signed copy as a Christmas gift this year.