The waiting game
The publishing industry is the worst choice for someone of my particular personality. Occasionally I curse my decision to go for my dream.
So what is it about my personality that makes publishing a poor fit?
I am a control freak and in fact possibly the world’s least patient individual.
And publishing … well to say it moves slowly is the understatement of the year so far.
First of all there is the length of time it takes to write a book. When I start to write I have the whole story in my head ready to go and a desperation to get it out and onto paper, but really there are only so many hours for writing in a day, especially with kids. At least I can control this part myself, but I am always impatient to get to the final chapter.
Once the first draft is polished (which involves more waiting – stepping back, re-reading, editing etc.) it goes to my agent. She has been known to read a draft and get back to me in a couple of hours, but other times she can take literally months. There is no way to speed things along, it is now in someone else’s hands. This is the time that the control freak in me starts to panic and I go quietly insane.
Then, of course, there is the rewrite, the second wait for agent approval, then, hopefully, it goes to publishers. This is probably the worst bit. Some publishers will get back in days, others months, some never at all.
This is the point at which I am obsessively checking my email every two minutes.
Finally someone in a publishing house might express an interest, but the waiting isn’t over, oh no. They have to pass the manuscript onto someone else, then they have to approve, then it has to go to acquisitions, a meeting which only seems to occur once a month.
Eventually the publisher decides to go for it. Then you have to wait for contracts to be signed off. Again, could take months.
It still isn’t over even then. Next it’s waiting for edits. Exactly what changes are the publishing house going to want? Big ones? Small ones? More agonising months follow.
You get the edits, you make the changes, you go through the whole process waiting for your cover, waiting for copy-edits, proofreading etc. (this can take up to two years, and meanwhile your family and friends are making snide comments about how long it all takes, and do you really have a book deal and when are they going to see your work in the shops). Finally publication day approaches and ARCs go out to reviewers.
Next to waiting for publisher feedback this is the worst wait of all. You know your agent liked the book, you know your editor liked the book (at least when they bought it), but what about the rest of the world? What if everyone hates it. What if your editor’s instincts were wrong and it hits completely the wrong note at the wrong time…
This is where I am now, waiting for reviews to start coming in. I’m going slightly mad, snapping at the kids and grumping at Andy. There is no way to make things go faster, to influence the reviews, to make people like my book. I can only sit here … and … wait.
However, two lovely reviewers have given me a sneak peak, by emailing me and telling me they loved the book.
I am so relieved and happy I can’t tell you.
So what is the cure for the waiting? What can you, as a writer, do to make the dead time go easier? Well, I know what I do … I write another book.