I’d never heard of “first pass pages” until my Penguin NAL editor emailed them a couple weeks ago.

I quickly learned this is your typeset manuscript — the way it’ll look on the page — ready for your once-over for typos or tiny fixes. (And they’d better be tiny, because resetting is costly. Too many changes? You pay.)

Seeing your first book in typeset pages is a thrill, hands down. This is the way a reader will see it — the font, the spacing. The title page, the copyright page. Your byline!


There were some necessary changes, yes. A word here or there.

Then there were changes that weren’t necessarily necessary, but I wanted them. Mostly word choices that seemed off or inadequate. So I noted those, too, even though Penguin had warned in a boilerplate note sent with the pages: “This is not the time to rewrite your text.”

I doubt the entirety of my changes will rise to the level of costly resetting, but it begs the question: When do you stop rewriting?

When is your manuscript ever good enough that you can stifle the critic inside that’s always muttering, “Drat, this can be better.”

Guess it’s like the poet who said, “You never finish a poem. You abandon it…”