The Crimson Five series

What Even Are Pass Pages?

Hey all,

Even writers on a deadline need a break, right?


So, I’m jumping on here to talk about the very reason I have a deadline this week:

Pass Pages.

I’m reading through final pass pages for Pop the Bronze Balloon and my deadline is the end of the month. Obviously I’m cutting it kind of close. What can I say? I work best under pressure. Or, I’m a slow reader. Or, I’m a procrastinator. You decide.

But what exactly are pass pages?

Well, if you’ve had a book published, you probably already know. If not, I’m going to save you the confusion. Because when I was working on Spin the Golden Light Bulb with my editor, I received my pass pages and didn’t even know it! Apparently, editors call things different names and I remember being frantic that my editor had forgotten to send mine to me.

Here’s the story:

Upon getting my first book deal, I joined a group of 200 writers on Facebook who were all going to have their first books published in the same year, called the Electric 18s. I was so excited to be a part of the group and still am! It’s a great place share information and celebrate each other’s successes. However, in the beginning, because Spin the Golden Light Bulb was releasing in early January of our debut year, the stages of the book process happened to me (and the other January debut authors) before the others. For example, I worked on my first round of edits with my editor before many of the others had even heard from their editor.

I proceeded to work on several rounds of edits, then copy edits, then the proof copyedits. Everything was going smoothly and on schedule. Months later, I heard other authors talking about first pass pages. Some had received thick stacks of bound pages in the mail from their publishers. They posted pretty pictures of them. So, of course, I wondered when mine would come.

I waited. And waited. But they never came. I was starting to panic because well, I was a debut author after all and debut authors panic about pretty much everything!

Finally, I reached out to my editor and asked, “Am I going to get my pass pages soon? Did I miss them somehow? And what are pass pages anyway?”

She laughed—in a nice way and told me that I had already gotten and read through my pass pages! Because my publisher is small, they don’t mail out printed copies. Instead, they send everything in a digital format. And they don’t call them pass pages. They simply call it round one, two, and three.

Ohhhhh. So that big moment that some authors have, holding their bound pages in their hands—the ones that are about to become a book… well that never happened. Mine appeared on my screen. I do recall that being a big deal at the time though, because I could see the way the book would be laid out, with the bookish graphics and everything. I just didn’t realize that I wouldn’t get a physical copy to read through… that those were my pass pages. I did read through them. I did make corrections. I did have them. I was just too clueless to realize it!

To be clear, pass pages are a round of edits. Some authors get first pass, second pass, and final pass pages. Some get only two. It simply depends on the book.

As a side note…I did receive ARCs, which are the advanced reader copies. Physical copies with the cover and everything. And for me, that was my amazing moment! Seeing my book look like a book  for the first time was something I will absolutely never forget. Physical pass pages as that point made no difference to me at all!

Just wanted to clear that up for those of you who may be oblivious like I was! And for the record, many publishers send pass pages digitally. The cost to print physical copies is just too much. Often authors print their own pages out, but many just review them on their computer. There is no correct way. Each publisher, editor, author, and publishing method is different. And one day, when you get your book deal, hopefully this will help you to know what to expect…and to remember that every author’s journey to publication is different. So keep your eyes on your own page and don’t worry so much about what is happening with other authors! It’s a good question to ask your editor though, when you begin working together. 🙂

Now, three books later, I’m back to work on my final pass pages for Pop the Bronze Balloon. This will be the last time I see these pages and the last chance to make them sparkle. So even though I’m not as clueless as I was the first time around, it’s still a thrill (and a pain!) to be working on them. In just over 5 months, they will have been turned into real book. My job this week is to finish reading the remaining chapters, make any last minute corrections, and send them off to be born! Ahhhh. What a surreal feeling! I hope it’s one you all get to experience eventually too!

I hope this post was useful. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it!

Happy writing!

10 thoughts on “What Even Are Pass Pages?”

  1. I’ve done this both ways. With my textbook, I had the hard-copy pass pages. . .then with my essay collection and my novella (both self-published), I had only electronic pages. It was way easier to do the editing electronically, I found, especially given my terrible penmanship! The only time I heard the term “pass pages” used was with the textbook.

    1. Interesting! I wondered how it was done with textbooks. I think I have to agree about editing electronically… even though my handwriting is pretty neat! It is much easier to comment and revise. Thanks for reading!

      1. Well–that was 20 years ago, the first time. I had a big feud with my copy editor, who didn’t know as much about writing as I did, frankly, and wrote “STET” after about 2/3 of her comments. In reply, she sent me an e-mail reading, simply, STET. The second edition also was hard copy. I think we might have gone electronic by the third edition, in 2006. No idea how they would do it now. Probably all electronic by this time. It took less than half as long, not to mention saving paper, postage, and a big mess in the office.

  2. So many details. So many things to learn. was it more routine with the second and third books? Did you do anything differently?

    1. I know, right? Definitely so many things to learn! The process was more routine with my second book, especially because it published just seven months later. But it a way it was overwhelming too because I began editing the second immediately after the first… all while trying to navigate my debut year. I was placed with a different editor and team for the third, the one I’m working on now. So, there’s been a bit of a learning curve all over again! Publishing is always a rollercoaster, I guess:)

      1. wow, a new editor on the second book? Were you worried that your tone might change?

      2. No, not at all because it was still my words and story. I found my new editor’s perspective to be helpful. Her guidance really had more to do with plot development so it worked out well! It’s always a challenge working with someone new though until you’re used to their methods. It definitely is helpful to be open to change…in anything really, not just publishing:)

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