UPDATE: As recently announced by JKR herself, HBP will be released at midnight July 16, 2005. Great job, Alex!
The HBP Release Date: It's Closer Than You Think!
An original editorial by Alex
The one question that every Harry Potter
fan wants answered--besides the identity of the
Half-Blood Prince--is, "When will the book actually be released?" I wanted to give the hardcore
fans, as well as myself, some hope and insight by deducing an accurate guess as to when HBP will
be published! Let's get started. The first real hint we received from Jo was at the
Edinburgh Book Festival
on August 15, 2004:
I am normally like this when I write a book. Usually when I am just over halfway I normally
love it, but by the time I finish it I completely despise it and think it is worthless rubbish.
We can now deduce that Jo was over halfway finished with Book 6 on August 15,
2004. In an interview right after the release of OotP in June 2003, she mentioned
she had already started writing Book 6:
I started it when I was pregnant [with her second child, not the third]. That was a
different situation because I knew I didn't have to so that immediately meant that I wanted to!
You know, the absolute reverse of Goblet of Fire.
Since OotP was released on June 21, 2003, why did it take over a year for Jo
to reach the halfway mark of HBP? Well, for one, she had a new baby to take
care of. I am guessing that during this time Jo didn't really get any serious writing started
until about 6 months after the release of OotP, around Christmas.
A little well-known HP history lesson: Usually, an HP book takes about a year to be released
after the last one. That tradition was broken when OotP appeared 3 years after the publication
of GoF. Jo has said, however, that HBP should be quite a bit shorter than OotP:
According to the plan for book six, it will be quite a bit shorter than Order of the
Phoenix. I am not going to swear on my children's lives that that is going to be the case,
but I am 99% certain of it.
Remember what Jo said regarding the length of OotP:
Yes, five is going to be shorter than four. I always knew four would be
the longest, but even I didn't expect it to be that long.
All we can say for now is to go on Jo's first statement regarding the
length of HBP until she says otherwise.
Moving on, new revelations on Jo's site
(the greatest gift to HP fans everywhere) have once again revealed clues to HBP's length:
I have learned something from this experience, which is that when you read
through twenty chapters at a sitting, then decide to do some FAQs for the
website in the early hours of the morning, you mess up.
This tidbit was revealed in early October 2004, two months after her revelation of having
already written more than half of HBP. How much could Jo have written from that period in which
she went from "halfway" to twenty chapters? Is Jo getting closer to the end of the book much
more quickly than we expected? Jo has even said that she doesn't write everyday:
I write most days when I am working hard on a book (like now), but
every day would be hard on my children! I like to spend time with them, too.
No hard feelings there, every mother needs time with her children. OotP was 38 chapters long. If
HBP is supposed to be shorter than OotP (and Jo was halfway through the book two months prior to
the revelation of the present twenty-chapter length), Jo must be nearing the end of HBP soon
(assuming the twentieth chapter of HBP is one of the final chapters). I think we can expect the
book to appear earlier than three long years after the publication of OotP!
It did, however, take her over a year to finish the first half of HBP. What does that say about
the second half and my proposal that she is nearing the conclusion of HBP more quickly than we
thought? Obviously, Jo is cruising through the second half quite quickly, and with her son now
well over a year old, the prospect is looking much better for a quicker release date. My guess
is that the completion of a first draft of HBP should be during the early months of
2005, possibly by the end of January. I also believe that around that time she
will make the announcement on her web site. Shortly after that, the
publishers will announce the publication date. "But wait," I hear the critics
calling, "you forgot about Jo's newly announced pregnancy." I believe that this latest
pregnancy is actually a clue (and a blessing in disguise) that only proves HBP will be completed
sooner than expected:
So let me reassure you that book six remains well on track and, fingers crossed of course,
I don't foresee any baby-related interruptions or delays. I still can't say for sure when it
will be finished, but I have written a lot and I really like it (a reckless challenge to fate,
that; I bet the next chapter goes horribly wrong now).
That was posted on the web site on July 24, 2004. Women don't usually find out they're pregnant
until after a month or so. Therefore, Jo had to at least be a month or
two pregnant before she revealed to the world her wonderful news. I'm not
her doctor, but I'm guessing that her bundle of joy is going to be born around late January or
February. Seeing as Jo said she didn't anticipate any baby-related delays on Book 6, that must
mean she should be finished with the first draft by or before early 2005! This all just goes to
show that the first draft of HBP should be finished by the early months of 2005.
Of course, after Jo finishes writing the first draft of the book, the
tedious task of editing, publicity, illustrations, and audio versions will
begin. The editing process, however, should not take very long:
Question: How painful is the editing process for you? Compared with writing a first
draft, how long do you spend editing? Who do you conference with?
Answer: I work with my editors. I enjoy the editing process, but I edit fairly
extensively myself before my editors get to see the book, so it's never a very long
A little more HP history: OotP was released seven months after Jo announced she was finished.
During that waiting period of the editing process, audio recordings, illustrations, and
publicity, production happened. (Editor's note: If HBP is indeed shorter than OotP,
this waiting period may take less time).
Now we can finally move on to the big finale, my theory of when HBP will be released. First,
here's just one more bit of information to help further support it. Here is what Stephen Fry,
narrator of the British audiobooks, has to say:
I would have my legs cut off if I gave anything away. I think we can
probably say that this next one is probably not going to be longer than The Order of
the Phoenix--29 hours of listening if you buy the tapes or CDs. That's a
lot of studio time reading! In fact, whenever I see Jo Rowling, I've just become
completely banal and vulgar--I'm not at all interested. I don't care what
the story is, who lives, who dies, just "How long is it going to be?"
This means a month before the halfway point of HBP, Jo was already making meetings
about the audio versions.
Big finale, drum roll please! My prediction for the release date of Harry Potter and the
Half-Blood Prince is between July and August 2005! Yes, I know, this is a tad bit earlier
than expected by my fellow HP comrades. Most of you were expecting Summer 2006
rather than Summer 2005. But if Rowling announces she finished the book around January or
February 2005, then the book should be ready around seven months later, by July or August 2005.
I'm not just saying this because I wish it to be true. I have
deduced this conclusion from the information given to the public. But, again, I
could be entirely wrong. You never know what could happen when you are writing a book. Here is
just one more example to show you what I mean:
Question:How many rough copies do you have to do before you get it right?
Answer: Loads and loads and loads. The worst ever was thirteen different versions of
one chapter (chapter nine in Goblet of Fire). I hated that chapter so much; at
one point, I thought of missing it out altogether and just putting in a page
saying "Chapter nine was too difficult" and going straight to chapter ten.
Basically, anything can happen in Jo's life while she is writing HBP; a
relative could become ill, her new baby could be born early or, as seen above, a
chapter could just take longer to write than others. Life is unpredictable, but no
matter what the publication date turns out to be, I know I can't wait for Half-Blood
Prince to be published and its secrets to be revealed!
Posted by: Sara