Book Report: Polishing and Waiting

I’m sitting on the couch, watching tv, when the dog comes in. “Hey, dude, what ever happened with that book, anyway?”

“What book?” I ask, distractedly.

“The one about me. What other book would I be asking about?”

“Oh, yeah. I sent the first draft off to my editor and a bunch of other people, and I’m waiting for their comments.”

“Oh. That must suck, huh?”


“Waiting. I don’t like waiting.”

“I’ve noticed that.” She’s good for ten seconds or so, but more than that, and she starts creeping forward. “It’s not so bad, though. I’ve already gotten some comments, which have been very positive–“

“Of course, because I am the best.”

“–and anyway, I have other things to work on while I wait.”

“Can I suggest something to do while you wait?”

“Suggest away.”

She flops on her back. “Rub my belly.”

“Oh, all right…” There are worse ways to pass time.


At last report, I had finished a rough pass over the first draft, and was doing a little polishing before sending it off to the publisher. I spent the week after New Year’s going through the manuscript, looking to remove some of the extraneous “really”s and “very”s that afflict my writing, and generally tighten things up. It’s sort of amusing to look at how this affected the word count:

Change: -9
Total Words: 1,301

Chapter 1: Particle-Wave Duality
Change: +54
Total Words: 5,333

Chapter 2: The Uncertainty Principle

Change: +2
Total Words: 4,501

Chapter 3: The Copenhagen Interpretation
Change: -24
Total Words: 4,777

Chapter 4: The Many-Worlds Interpretation
Change: -39
Total Words: 4,830

Chapter 5: The Quantum Zeno Effect
Change: +76
Total Words: 3,339

Chapter 6: Quantum Tunneling
Change: -16
Total Words: 4,410

Chapter 7: Entanglement

Change: +67
Total Words: 6,410

Chapter 8: Quantum Teleportation
Change: -138
Total Words: 4,892

Chapter 9: Extra Dimensions
Change: -141
Total Words: 5,108

Chapter 10: Virtual Particles
Change: -84
Total Words: 4,803

Chapter 11: Evil Squirrels
Change: -28
Total Words: 3,131

Net change: -280 words. That takes it from 53,000 words to, um, just under 53,000 words. Still a third more than requested.

Some of those changes are a little deceptive. The increases in Chapters 1 and 5 are mostly in the form of explanatory captions added to figures that I grabbed off the web, to preserve the sanity of my beta readers. Were it not for that, Chapters 1 and 2 would’ve decreased significantly, as they were written early, and I deleted a lot of extra adjectives from those. Chapters 9 and 10 were actually the first bits written, back when I was doing the book proposal, so they saw lots of trimming.

As I said above, early returns have been very positive. My very astute beta readers have been able to spot most of the places where I was deliberately fudging things a little bit, and have corrected a couple of physics and continuity errors. This is why I sent it to them, and they’re doing a great job.

In the meantime, I’m working on making better figures to replace the graphics I snagged off other people’s web pages. And rubbing the dog’s belly, of course…

Bonus Dog Dialogue: “I don’t know. It’s awfully Zen. ‘What is the pattern of one photon interfering?'”
“Hey, that’s pretty good.”
“Thanks. I have Buddha nature, you know.”


  1. #1 Stuart Coleman
    January 13, 2008

    Do you have any kind of estimate for when it’ll be out? I know it’s probably far away, but I can’t wait to read it.

  2. #2 Chad Orzel
    January 13, 2008

    The estimated publication date is something like 6-8 months after the final manuscript is turned in. The contractual date for turning in the final draft is August 1, but for a number of reasons, I’d like to have it done well before then.

    But I’ve never done this before, so I can’t really guess how much longer it will take to get to a final draft. It might go down to the wire for reasons beyond my control.

    Short answer: don’t expect it before next spring. It might be available sooner, but I wouldn’t count on that.

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