Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Santa Rosa Main Office
Today I’m in a mood. Thunderclouds have gathered over my office, and I’m not feelin’ groovy, even if I do live in California. How come?
Because I’m observing authors becoming less and less concerned about making the deadlines they committed to in their contracts. Here is a case in point.
One of my clients casually mentioned to another client of mine that she had never made a deadline on any of her five contracted books. Hey, it was no big deal.
My second client, a new author with his first contract, called me to ask if deadlines are kind of taken casually by everyone in publishing.
I clarified to said second client that deadlines are to be taken very seriously. Sacrifices need to be made to make deadlines; one’s professional reputation is on the line (speaking of lines) with a deadline; publishers pay attention when deadlines are missed.
The bottomline (another kind of line) is that someone pays the price if you miss your deadline. The further from the deadline you turn in your manuscript, the more people pay prices. The first person is your editor. It will fall to your editor to make up the time you ate up. Because the editor’s projects are lined up by the production department, if your project comes in late, the editor still has to finish your manuscript on time or the next project (which might have come in on time) will be late releasing. So the editor burns the midnight oil the author failed to burn.
Note: I’m not writing about justifiable reasons for missing a deadline. We’ve all experienced the unexpected that makes a tossed salad out of our lives. Instead, I’m writing about those instances in which the author put off doing the work of writing the book until it became inevitable the deadline would be missed.
What should you do when you realize you’re going to miss your deadline? As soon as you know, when that sinking feeling in your gut won’t go away, that the manuscript just can’t be ready on time, call your agent (or call your editor, if you don’t have an agent). The longer you wait to confess, the more repercussions for the publishing house. Phoning the day of the deadline won’t do. Confessing a month before the due date is better. (Come on, if you haven’t started writing it with one month left, and you know it takes you three months to complete a manuscript, you really can ‘fess up early.) Publishers won’t be happy the deadline will be missed, but with several weeks to adjust the production schedule, they at least have some flexibility to figure out what to do.
Tomorrow I’ll write about the uber-late manuscript and the fallout from that. I’ll also write about why I think deadlines are missed.
By the way, I decided to write about deadlines not to be curmudgeonly but because I’m concerned that authors don’t understand the implications of being late. For there are implications, even when, on the surface, there seem to be none.