Monday, April 18, 2011

SPOTLIGHT ON: Timeframes

The "Spotlight On" series is basically just highlighting some web resources I've found useful.

I've held onto the post below because sometimes as writers the hard part isn't the doing... it's the waiting.  The uncertainty.  The sheer patience and perserverance required to get to the top of this molehill we call publication.

See, part of the problem is a few years ago a housewife from Arizona wrote a book inside three months.  She sent it off to a bunch of agents and Writer's House came calling.  Within another two or three months she had a MASSIVE publishing contract in her hot little hands.

Fastforward a few years and you've got one of the hottest book series ever published on the shelves and an author who's a household name.... and her story is Out There.  Everyone thinks they can take her story and make it their own.  And that's just not the case.

Check out Tana Adam's story.  There's a case study in perserverance and dedication!  I for one applaud her and can't wait to see her name in print.

Check out Lauren DeStefano's story.  Her book Wither came out last month as one of the most anticipated releases this year.  Yet it isn't the first book she wrote - not even the book that made her agent offer representation!

The truth is, everyone's journeys are different.  While the goal may ultimately be the same, it's unrealistic to pick a popular author out of the pile and set your expectations based on their work.

So what do we do?

Steve Laube is an agent who's been around for a long time and is often referred to by other successful agents I know.  He's written an article on just how long it takes to get a book from contract to publication that I think we should all read it every few months and take a good, solid hit of reality.

Whether you're looking for an agent or a contract, it's probably going to take longer than you think.  And even after that contract is in place...  well, I'll let Steve tell you.

Your Turn:  What expectations did you / do you have about how long the next step in your writing career is going to take?  What made you think that?  How do you deal with it if your expectations aren't met?


  1. I'm in waiting mode right now. I have to say, it's tough... But I knew it would be tough. Kind of like parenthood. :) I've started my second novel to help pass the time, and so far it's working!

  2. I'm not quite at waiting mode. As I near the end of revisions and editing, I'm thinking it's going to take a while. But then again, it could take virtually no time at all! I don't know. I'll just go with whatever happens, flying by the crotch of my pants. ;)

  3. When I was told it would take a year to edit my book I thought, no way, the manuscript is finished! I forgot my critique partners weren't going to swallow it up and send back comments the very next day. In fact, my mother didn't even read it for 6 months. I have been humbled.
    Handel wrote the Messiah in 6 weeks because he copied work he had already written. Eistein's wife had to tell him to go to the bathroom because he never took breaks. Don't let it get you down, keep your creativity alive. You never know what to expect.

  4. Well I kind of figured I'd be long dead before anything I've written would make its way into the world, but, that's not the case anymore. Especially after reading stories like this, good on her, great work.

    I figure my next step, having just finished a 50,000 word fiction story, will be to get it edited. My editor tells me two weeks to do a full line and structural edit. And then I think I might self publish. Why, the traditional method looks so hard to get into. I’m not even really sure how to start a good query or book submissions letter; it looks as painful as applying for an OZ CO Grant.

    Self publishing with say Bookpal, looks so easy, but I doubt that they will have any where near the clout as say A&U. So it’s a quandary for us writers. But it’s one I’m determined to overcome. I’ve tried Amazon DTP and for me it does not work because no one knows my name, I think that’s why it has not worked. Trouble is and this applies to so many things in this world, is getting feedback. I don’t want someone tell me it’s good but to tell me the opposite, to tell me anything would be a start.

  5. I also wrote my first novel in a very short timeframe (one month). It took another three months to polish the first three chapters with the help of ruthless critiques (don't be despondent and listen!) which I sent off to agents. While I waited I corrected/edited/proofed the rest. Within a year I had representation but it took another year of the publisher editing/rewriting before it was available (and they published my second novel, not my first). Don't stop writing, don't stop reading and try to get a really constructive reading panel not just a bunch of friends who are too worried to tell you when a particular section sucks.

  6. I used to give myself "deadlines", career-wise, but since that's beyond my control, I've let it go and just do what I can daily, but remembering that the best part about it is getting to write a fun story that I love.