• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

I’ve Finished Writing BEES…!

Important Update: Just a few weeks after I posted this blog entry below, a publication date of November 23, 2021, was announced for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE by my publisher, Penguin Random House.

Please read my newer blog entry about the publication date announcement, or visit my BEES webpage for current information about this new book.

2021-03-29-what-finished-means-DGI’ve finished writing GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, as of March 27, 2021! Now this new book enters the publication process, outlined below, which will likely take months (a guesstimate only).

Please keep in mind that I do not set the publication date, the day when you can buy the book at a bookstore. That date will be decided by my publishers. Stay tuned!


What Finished Means To An Author

As my husband often remarks, "‘FINISHED’ is a relative term to a writer."

This is true! <g> I thought y’all might be interested in Just What Happens to a book after the writer is “finished” writing the manuscript:

(NB: This is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Owing to the tight Production schedule—such as there was for MOBY (Book 8) and THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, Volume 2—a lot of these steps have been done concurrently, rather than sequentially, and a few repetitive steps have been skipped. But by and large, this is how it works.)

  1. Books don’t go directly from the author to the bookstore.
  2. Books go from the author to the editor, who
    1. reads the manuscript
    2. discusses the manuscript with the author, and
    3. suggests minor (we hope) revisions that may improve the book
  3. The book goes back to the author, who

    1. re-reads the manuscript
    2. considers the editor’s comments, and
    3. makes whatever revisions, emendments, or clarifications seem right.
  4. The book goes back to the editor, who

    1. reads it again
    2. asks any questions that seem necessary, and
    3. Sends it to
  5. The copy-editor. This is a person whose thankless job is to

    1. read the manuscript one…word…at…a…time
    2. find typos or errors in grammar, punctuation, or continuity (one heck of a job, considering the size not only of the individual books, but of the overall series), and
    3. apply “house style” to things like numbers (e.g. do we write “two” or “2”?), and
    4. write queries to the author regarding anything questionable, whereupon
  6. The book comes back to the author—yes, again— who

    1. re-reads the manuscript
    2. answers the copy-editor’s queries, and
    3. alters anything that the copy-editor has changed that the author disagrees with, and
    4. adds things inspired by the copy-editor’s comments that seem like a good idea. After which, the author sends it back to
  7. The editor—yes, again!—who

    1. re-re-reads it
    2. checks that all the copy-editor’s queries have been answered, and sends it to
  8. The Typesetter (aka Compositor, these days), who sets the manuscript in type, according to the format laid out by
  9. 2021-03-29-the-end

  10. The Book-Designer, who

    1. decides on the layout of the pages (margins, gutters, headers or footers, page-number placement)
    2. chooses a suitable and attractive typeface
    3. decides on the size of the font, leading and kerning
    4. chooses or commissions any incidental artwork (endpapers, maps, dingbats—these are the little gizmos that divide chunks of text, but that aren’t chapter or section headings)—or, for something like the OC II, a ton of miscellaneous illustrations, photographs, etc. that decorate or punctuate the text.
    5. Designs chapter and Section headings, with artwork, and consults with the

      (NB: People always want to know how many pages the book will be. This depends entirely on the Book Designer’s decisions, so there’s no telling ahead of time. The font, leading, kerning (leading and kerning are, respectively, the amount of space between lines and between letters) and page layout will all affect how many words fit on a page.)

  11. Cover Artist, who (reasonably enough) designs or draws or paints or PhotoShops the cover art (this often happens earlier in the process, but I put it here for convenience), which is then sent to
  12. The Printer, who prints the dust-jackets—which include not only the cover art and the author’s photograph and bio, but also "flap copy," which may be written by either the editor or the author (I usually write my own), but is then usually messed about with by
  13. The Marketing Department, whose thankless task is to try to figure out how best to sell a book that can’t reasonably be described in terms of any known genre <g>, to which end, they

    1. try to provide seductive and appealing cover copy to the book (which the author normally approves. I usually insist on writing it myself).
    2. compose advertisements for the book (author usually sees and approves these—or at least I normally do).
    3. decide where such advertisements might be most effective (periodicals, newspapers, book-review sections, radio, TV, Facebook, Web)
    4. try to think up novel and entertaining means of promotion, such as having the author appear on a cooking show to demonstrate recipes for unusual foods mentioned in the book.
    5. kill a pigeon in Times Square and examine the entrails in order to determine the most advantageous publishing date for the book.
  14. OK. The manuscript itself comes back from the typesetter, is looked at (again) by the editor, and sent back to the author (again!), who anxiously proof-reads the galleys (these are the typeset sheets of the book; they look just like the printed book’s pages, but are not bound. (NB: of recent years, galleys are often provided in electronic form)), because this is the very last chance to change anything. Meanwhile

    (Somewhere in here, recording begins on the audiobook, which is normally released at the same time as the hardcover. Ideally, the narrator is given a version of the manuscript that’s pretty close to the ultimate printed form, but they may get earlier or partial versions from which to prepare their performance (choosing accents and pacing for different characters, for instance).)

  15. A number of copies of the galley-proofs are bound—in very cheap plain covers—and sent to (NB: This is SOP, but we haven’t been doing it for the last few books, owing to the fact that the book itself is coming out on the heels of Production; there’s no time to distribute ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies).) (NB: These days, it’s often PDFs, though paper ARCs are still used, too.))
  16. The Reviewers, i.e., the bound galleys (or PDFs) are sent (by the marketing people, the editor, and/or the author) to the book editors of all major newspapers and periodicals, blogs, websites, and to any specialty publication to whom this book might possibly appeal, in hopes of getting preliminary reviews, from which cover quotes can be culled, and/or drumming up name recognition and excitement prior to publication. Frankly, they don’t always bother with this step with my books, because they are in a rush to get them into the bookstores, and it takes several months’ lead-time to get reviews sufficiently prior to publication that they can be quoted on the cover.
  17. With luck, the author finds 99.99% of all errors in the galleys (you’re never going to find all of them; the process is asymptotic—vide the typo in the very last line of MOBY…), and returns the corrected manuscript (for the last time, [pant, puff, gasp, wheeze]) to the editor, who sends it to

    (The ebook coding happens somewhere in here.)

  18. The Printer, who prints lots of copies (“the print-run” means how many copies) of the “guts” of the book—the actual inside text—are printed. These are then shipped to
  19. The Bindery, where the guts are bound into their covers, equipped with dust-jackets, and shipped to
  20. The Distributors. There are a number of companies—Amazon is the largest, but there are a number of smaller ones, and the large publishing houses have their own warehouse facilities, too—whose business is shipping, distributing, and warehousing books. The publisher also ships directly to

(1. Arrangements are made in this phase for ebook distribution through retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.)

  21. Bookstores, but bookstores can only house a limited number of books. Therefore, they draw on distributors’ warehouses to resupply a title that’s selling briskly, because it takes much longer to order directly from the publisher. And at this point, [sigh]… the book finally reaches
  22. You, the reader.

And we do hope you like it when you get it—because we sure-God went to a lot of trouble to make it for you. <g>

Click here to visit my Writer’s Corner (What I Do) webpage…

Images are by Diana Gabaldon. The top image shows printed book manuscripts. The bottom image shows a screen from her word processing software.

This blog post includes an updated version of “What Finished Means To An Author,” an essay that I have posted several times in the past. This new version was also posted on my official Facebook page on Monday, March 29, 2021.

123 Responses »

  1. Dear Diana,
    Hooray, your book is finally finished!!! I’ve been anxiously waiting for it. So far I have read them in German (a very good translation BTW) but wouldn’t mind getting my hands on the original one ASAP! I just love your books and characters.
    Thank you so much for all those wonderful books (the Lord John series included) that can be read and re-read many times !!!
    All the best from a German fan,

  2. I am beyond excited to hear BEES is done! I’ve been waiting for this book and this book alone! I’m so looking forward to picking up where the twist ending of In My Own Heart’s Blood left off! I want to write more but don’t know the rules for spoilers on here, ha! I’m looking forward to see what Jemmy and Amanda get into in book 9!

  3. I am so excited to hear the book is done. Now I can again start at the beginning. I re-read the whole series anytime a new book is released. It is wonderful because I pick up on new things each time. Thank you!

  4. So glad to see you have finished “Go Tell The Bees that I am gone. Once I start reading the book it will be bittersweet because then I will have to finish it and the wait will begin for the next book.

  5. I just want to say thank you for being such a brilliant & beautiful writer I have truly enjoyed reading your books ❤️

  6. You are one of my favorite authors of all time. Your books are truly one of a kind and I can’t wait to read this new one!!!

  7. What an exciting time for we (slightly obsessive and compulsive) readers! We are thrilled for you that you have reached another pinnacle, and we thank you and all those who are involved with bringing Jamie and Claire back into the light. Time to pick up Outlander again and re-read the series which will, hopefully, conclude at about the same as the distribution of Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. My most sincere and humble thanks.

  8. When te book 9 Will be in spanish? Thanks

    • Hi, Paula,

      BEES in the Spanish language will be up to the publishers who translate and publish that edition. No date is set yet. International editions can take up to a year, or more, after the U.S. edition is released.

  9. Dear Diana
    Today I received THE email, the one to tell the world that Outlander 9 is finished and it’s a very very good news. To add to it, you’ve finished it on my birthday, what a good omen.

    I wanted for a long time to write to you. I’m french (that’s the reason for all the mistakes, sorry) and I discovered Outlander thanks to the TV serie. It was love at first sight. All was great, the actors, the landscapes, and most of all, all the narratives from Claire and the discussion between the characters.

    I liked it so much that I watched it again, and again, and again and finally, I’ve been able to watch it without subtitles. Maybe you can imagine how many times I saw it if I tell you that before Outlander (and a little help for my previous madness : Pride and prejudice, the BBC one), listening to english langage was a completly nonsense for me. I could not make a difference between the words. And then, after all the « again and again » you can figurate, here I am, reading Outlander in english, watching other movies in english, no need of subtitles, and I can even recognize british from scottish accent.

    So, as you can see, Outlander is better than « Education nationale » (that’s not very difficult, french langages teaching is not very good, it’s a common knowledge) or Assimil method ! Congrat, Dian, you’re the best !
    So I had to tell you my love for Outlander. You’re way of writing is a real pleasure to me (I read well better than I write). And if one day you need some help to translate a word or a sentence in french, I would be more than happy to help you. Really, it would be an honor to put my native langage to your service.
    Thank you very much for all the happy hours I spend with your characters !

  10. I have seen Waterstones website advertising ‘Go Tell The Bees’ signed copies for sale on preorder . Is this correct.
    Could it be ready for sale November?

    Brilliant if true. Heres the Scenario.

    Number 2 Daughter – ‘What would you like for Christmas mam’
    Me – ‘Jamie Fraser please’

    • Yes! The U.K. edition will be released on November 23, 2021, along with the U.S. edition!

      And oh, yeah, Jamie in a stocking would be quite nice. :-)

  11. Such good news Diana! I have been listening to My Own Hearts Blood on Audio to prepare myself for Bees. It’s been a wonderful experience listening to the book after reading it a few times. It has enhanced the experience and I highly recommend it, especially for those who are already familiar with the book(s). Slainte!

  12. Great news about the November publishing date. I was very happy to read in the publisher’s synopsis there would be some continuation of the thread about the attack on Brianna and Roger’s family – presumably taking place at Fraser’s Ridge. I’ve often speculated on how it would have played out in Scotland after Brianna and the children disappeared. Would there have been consequences for Rob and his co-conspirators etc. Can’t wait!!!

  13. I received my email from your site this morning, as soon as I read it, I went to Amazon and Pre-ordered my book, slated to arrive 11-23-21. I definitely know what I’ll be doing Thanksgiving this year! I am so excited, could hardly contain myself. I have told everyone. I have read the series 6 times, I will reread it all right before Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone comes out. Thank YOU for my Early Christmas gift.

  14. Excited and so ready to continue on this journey with you! You are my favorite writer as your ability to draw me into the story is extraordinary! I lose all sense of time as I become immersed in the story you paint with words and am so looking forward for more. Thank you and congratulations!

  15. Hi – You probably know Amazon has BEES listed already for November 23rd. I’m guessing this is just some estimate on Amazon’s part since you haven’t given any official dates yet and it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Thanks!

  16. Diana,

    The last gift I bought my mother, Ann, was the first four books in the Outlander series for Christmas in 2019. She and I were kindred bookworms, and I had been on her for a year or so to join me in this beautiful series. Sadly she never finished the first chapter of book one.

    I love rereading stories I love, and I feel as though I’m allowing Mom to read along with me this time. I’m noticing so many more details this time around, too! Foreshadowing Stephen Bonnet in the first book was so very clever!!

    I’m slightly terrified for the conclusion on the series and all the feels you will masterfully present to us. Even so, I cherish the escape into the vivid world you created.

    Best wishes!

  17. I am so not going to wait untill it is translated in dutch. Books normally are better in their original language. Diana do you speak gaelic yourself? Tha do leabhar sgoinneil. Tapadh leibh.

  18. Diana,

    I am fairly new to the Outlander Obsession. I’ve only started in February 2021. I have watched all the episodes, finished the books and about half of the Lord John books as well and watch endless videos on FB and twitter and now Tick Tock. Yesterday by accident I found all the Bees excerpts. I felt like it was my birthday!!! Thank you so much for the joy you have brought to my life with your story-telling.

  19. You are one of my favorite writers. Once I start reading a book it always is as if I am there in Scotland.
    Do you know when the book will come out in Belgium.

  20. It is with bitter sweet emotion to say I have finished “Bees”. It was MARVELOUS!
    I laughed, cried, laughed louder, and cried harder. At one part, in particular, I even held my breath! Diana you never disappoint!
    I’ve enjoyed your literary style and creativity since the beginning, having read and re-read much of your work. I was excited to read that you will write about Brian and Ellen too! I often, while reading Jamie speak of his childhood, wondered about his parents and how they came to be. You have touched a bit on these characters through the series, but…to read a prequel novel of young Brian, Ellen, and Murtagh (wink), would be verra entertaining.

    Keep doing what you do….

    Slàinte Mhath

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