The first pass doesn’t refer to being hit on, or what you might find if you’re travelling through a canyon. It’s the name publishers give to a manuscript that’s been line- edited, copy-edited, and formatted to look like the pages of the book it soon will become.
It’s called “the first pass” because it’s sent to the author to review for any changes or corrections.
At the first pass stage, despite all those edits, we often find errors: that’s the point. Even after extensive reading and re-reading, there are always a few typos, plot holes, repetitions and other things we missed in the first round. I know there will be one thing to change for sure: I have a character in an important chapter taking to his feet on one page and then slumping in his chair in the next. I didn’t catch it when we were doing edits; I was flipping through the manuscript later and realized I’d missed it.
The first pass is where I can fix that kind of thing: it’s not too late.
Often there will be formatting errors in the first pass because it’s been formatted into chapters. Sometimes there are paragraphs that aren’t indented or line breaks in the wrong place. At this stage, it’s relatively easy to make changes. I simply mark up my copy and send it back to the publisher who takes care of it. Once we get to the next stage, the galleys, those kinds of changes get harder to make.
The first pass for Hungry Ghosts should be here sometime on Monday for my review and input. This part is always exciting: to see the book actually taking shape!