Blogger: Mary Keeley
Off and on, we allude to the fact that writers need to develop a thick skin if they are going to survive this seemingly fickle, fast-changing world of publishing. Today, let’s count some ways perseverance, persistence, and patience are necessary assets to successfully navigate the publishing world.
When was your first realization that things don’t often happen quickly in publishing? Was it when an editor you met at a conference said you had a unique story or intriguing topic, but you need to keep working on your craft and platform before submitting? Or was it when you received rejections of your first submission to agents: “not ready for representation”?
When you were smacked with the fact that your dream of being published is going to be more a marathon than a sprint, there is only one choice to make if you feel God has called you to write for his glory and hopefully (total disclosure), for some financial provision. That choice is to
When it’s been two months and you are still waiting for an agent to read your proposal and respond to you, it is acceptable for you to send a respectful, professional query about the status of his or her review. Demonstrate your understanding that agents really don’t like to keep writers waiting. They understand your proposal is valuable. Between reading manuscripts, shopping clients’ proposals, contract negotiations, phone calls with editors, attendance at conferences and trade shows, and extensive record-keeping, we look forward to hunting for that gem in our stack of submissions as often as we can.
In the same way, editors want to find a prize in their stack of proposals. Between acquisitions, design, editorial, and production team meetings, they work on multiple projects simultaneously. If you haven’t heard from your editor in a while and don’t know if your changes have been accepted, it is appropriate to contact him or her to learn the status, using a team-based approach.
Situations like these require gentle, professional
We’ve been taught from childhood that patience is a virtue, right? “Don’t open until Christmas.” “When you are more experienced, you can drive the new car.” I firmly believe God has the publishing industry in view when he presses parents to train up their children to acquire this quality.
It’s annoying when the date your proposal is scheduled for presentation to the publication committee keeps moving farther out, and for reasons having nothing to do with the proposal.
It’s maddening when the editor at your publishing house is pulled off your manuscript to work on a rush job for a high-profile author whose new book is assured of getting New York bestseller sales because of the timing. That hurts more than just your ego. The release date of your book may have to be moved, most likely to a lesser advantageous selling season. And your next advance payment will be correspondingly delayed. (Off-subject note: Be sure to inform your agent when a major change like this occurs. She will confront the publisher if the release date moves beyond the publication time frame specified in your contract.)
It’s frustrating when, in the case of one client whose proposal has been on hold for several months awaiting final acceptance, the two editors involved gave conflicting direction to my client about the elements to include in her devotionals. Add to that, the publisher is going through structural changes. These things are bound to cause delays.
Speaking of structural changes, major realignments in the industry, like the Penguin-Random House merger announced this week, will take a while to adjust to. Everyone in the industry—authors, publishers, and agents—need to take a deep breath and have a wait-and-see attitude while we watch for the ramifications to become clear.
In order to present yourself as a true professional, such instances require well-developed
Circumstances like these are part of the nature of publishing. Your agent will help you navigate the hard, cold realities and go to bat for you when appropriate. But it is your responsibility and privilege, as a writer of books for God’s glory, to develop skin thickened with the perseverance, persistence, and patience that is pleasing to him.
Which of the 3 P’s is your greatest challenge? When have you needed to exercise one or more of these qualities in your publishing experience?