Like Molasses, Only Slower

The publishing industry moves slow. And when I say slow I mean fucking slow. (That’s right WoW nerdz, I went there.)

The stories talk about snapping up a dream agent on the first query, or having editors fall all over themselves to acquire your book after three weeks on submission. Or someone happening across your blog and saying “Whoa, I NEED them to write a book.”

Those stories get told because they’re exceptions. Because that sort of excitement is itself a good story, one that gets the people who pay attention to that part of the industry talking.

The average is much more boring: write a book, search for an agent, get rejected awhile. Maybe even write another book before you land that agent. Or another. Or still another. Get agent, go on submission.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Eventually maybe (maybe!) someone falls in love with that book and buys it. Maybe there’s a hot auction for it. Or, more likely, there are a few quiet, modest offers and hooray you have a book deal.

But that first book might not be the one that gets the deal.

Which is why, while you’re chewing your fingernails waiting for that call, you should be writing another book. Coupla reasons on that:

  • You stick to a routine. Hooray, you made it through sixty-, eighty-, a hundred thousand words of story. Through your edits and your beta readers’ edits, and your agent’s edits. Congratulations! Gorge yourself on a couple days’ worth of the TV you’ve missed or the video games you haven’t played or the books you haven’t read because you’ve been working your ass off on this book.But resting on your laurels until a publisher comes along offering a multi-book deal is a terrible idea. You might be resting for a year or more, and while there’s plenty of great media out there to fill the time, when the day comes that you have to put ass in chair and pen to paper for book two, well. You’re going to be a bit rusty.
  • Your agent has something else to sell. Maybe try your hand at YA if you’re writing adult, or high fantasy if you’ve been writing urban. Take a spin through SF and see if you like it. If you’re not under contract, you can play all you like!Or if noir is your one true love, write more noir. Some editors, even though they’re passing one one project, will say “I love the writing, send me their next book.” If your agent has your next book up his or her sleeve, bam. Here you go, Editor Who Dug My Style But Just Couldn’t Get Marketing on Board!
  • Your writing improves. The more you write, the better you get at the craft. So if something in the writing is what’s holding your first book back, making more words makes you learn about dialogue and pacing and plot simply by keeping at it.

It can feel like forever, this process of getting published. When things do start moving, they tend to move FAST… until the part where you’re waiting again. (It’s not bad waiting! That’s just the reality of the situation!) You can do plenty of things while you wait, but if you plan on making a career out of writing, putting new words to paper is a damned good use of your time.

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3 Responses to Like Molasses, Only Slower

  1. Oh, how I love thy knowledge. You are spot on. Those who don’t want to play the patience game will fall away and, I don’t know, do something else. Like start a publishing company for their own work. Which can be a good thing and might be the best route for them since it’s total control of what happens to their work. But if you want to go trade publishing, this is still the way to go.

  2. Bika says:

    Haha. I was just thinking that if I had to condense every piece of writing advice I’ve ever seen into a single phrase, it’d be “be patient and write more.”

    /adds “write more” to list of things to do on break

  3. falconesse says:

    Sarah, XD. If it’s the route an individual wants to take, I wish them well. There’s a ton of stuff to know first, and I hope they’re researching their options thoroughly, putting out the most polished version of their work possible, and being realistic about marketing & promotion.

    Bika, Yus! It’s so easy to get frustrated, and to feel like WTF WHY HAS NO ONE BOUGHT THIS YET? But trying to figure it out is an exercise in futility (unless you’re getting solid, consistent feedback on “Thing X isn’t working for me, in which case, y’know, fix it).

    The best thing to do is just. keep. writing. Keeps your mind off of the guessing game, and all.

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