This is a hard blog to write. So before I get into it a little bit, here are the headline facts:
Department 19: Zero Hour is being delayed by two months.
It will now be published in the UK on the 29th May, with the paperback publishing in January 2015.
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, the English-language territories where HarperCollins publishes directly, should see a similar delay.
Translations around the world should be unaffected, as should publication in the USA.
First things first. I’m really sorry about this.
I can’t really explain how it feels to know that there are people looking forward to something I’ve written, who are invested in the characters and the story and want to know what happens next. It’s kind of scary, and nerve-wracking, but it’s the very best bit about being an author, and it still amazes me every day.
I don’t take it for granted, and I take my responsibilities to my readers very seriously.
Which is why the book is being delayed. Because, to be absolutely up front with you, if we hadn’t delayed it, it wouldn’t have been as good as I want it to be.
I’m not going to get too deeply into it all, but suffice it to say that last year was a tough one, full of upheaval and disruption and unexpected life stuff. My books are long (as you may have noticed!) and the schedules to get them into the shops a year apart have always been quite tight.
If I wrote books that were 90,000 words long, there’d be no problem. But I don’t – the first draft of Zero Hour was 198,000 words, more than twice as long as most YA novels. And twice as many words means twice as much time to edit, and copyedit, and typeset, and proofread, and print.
I handed Zero Hour in three months ago, my awesome, endlessly patient editor Nick went to work on it, I re-drafted, he line-edited, I re-drafted again. And it became clear to us both that there was no way it could be published at the end of March unless we essentially spell-checked it and printed it, right then.
I wasn’t prepared to do that.
Because I knew it still needed work. It was the best first draft I’ve written, I think, but I knew it could be better, that it would benefit exponentially from me having the time to take another pass through the text, to sharpen up the story, to deepen the characters, and polish the language.
I go into each new book with the ambition that it will be the best thing I’ve written, because I should settle for nothing less.
And neither should you. You shouldn’t be expected to spend your time and money on anything less than the very best work I can do.
With that said, I’m pleased to say that Zero Hour (all 186,000 words of it, at last count) goes for final copyedit on Monday, and then to print next month.
It will be out on the 29th May. And it will be the best book it could possibly be.
Because if it isn’t, then really, what’s the point?
Thanks for reading,