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Writing takes time. A literary work of art isn’t accomplished overnight. Nurturing a character takes commitment and patience –a good writer will allow for tangents, twists, and side plots which occur only when he has given a good story the time to simmer. Non-fiction, too, takes time. To understand a topic, to research it, to credit and discredit arguments, and to fine-tune it, all while carefully walking that thin line of honesty and drama. And let’s not forget poetry, a method of expression slow to develop and only truly ready when the poet has sufficiently suffered enough for it.
Why, then, does the patient writer expect the process of getting published to be quick? It’s not. Book publishers receive hundreds of submissions, and just like the writer, they must carefully weigh each and every choice. The process is not slow due to sheer volume either. The consideration of even one query is not a snap decision:
- Is this book a good idea?
- Is this the right time for it?
- Who would be interested in this subject?
- Do we have an editor experienced in this subject/genre?
- Does the writer seem knowledgeable?
- Is the writer someone we could work with?
- Do we have an existing audience for this?
- Has this topic been done before?
- How much time would be necessary to further develop this?
- How intensive would that development be? (artwork, illustration, layout, fact-checking, etc.)
- Could we have fun with this?
- Can we sell it?
Sometimes all of these questions can be answered by reading one query letter; other times, it takes follow-up like asking questions or reading a synopsis or chapters. It’s not often a submission comes across the desk that has no merit at all and is easy to dismiss. An author takes the time to send a thoughtful query, and a thoughtful response they will get. It all takes time.
Developing an audience takes time, too. For the first time author, thrilled that his work will see the light of day, he can’t help but want immediate success. The hard part is out of the way – my book is published! But the truth is, success takes time, too. The new author, along with his publisher, editor, and agent must:
- Offer the book in the correct format(s) (hardcover, softcover, large print, eBook, Kindle, Espresso, etc.) for the audience,
- Get the word out about the book,
- Help others to understand the value of the book to them or to their friends or family,
- Stay on the potential buyer’s radar long enough for them to remember to buy the book,
- Encourage readers to share their opinions once they’ve read it,
- Develop trust with readers, so that they’ll want to buy the next book no matter what the topic,
- Establish the author as the expert on a topic (particularly if they are a non-fiction writer),
- And finally, be highly visible and accessible to the audience (through social media, networking with other authors, appearances, signings, readings, and contests).
Success happens overnight for very few people. The rest of us must work hard to realize our dreams. It all takes time.
Our advice to the new author – don’t rush the writing process at the expense of quality, don’t rush the application process at the expense of signing with the wrong publisher for you, and enjoy every moment of the climb toward success, no matter how long it takes. Do enjoy the journey that makes writing and being published such a wonderful ride!
Our next blog topic: H is for House Style