"Hurry Up and Wait"

When my first book was accepted for publication I was told by my very wise editor that publishing was a "hurry up and wait" business, and could be extremely frustrating. And so it has proved to be. It seems that most publishers take up to a year from accepting a manuscript to actually printing and distributing the book, and then it can be another year before the author gets sales figures and royalties.

And yet it often seems that the edited manuscript is returned to the author with instructions to make required corrections and alterations and return it within 72 hours. Publishers work to deadlines, and with several books scheduled for specific release dates, and marketing based on everything happening as planned, part of the author's lot in life is to do whatever is necessary to fit in with it all.

I can cope with that. I understand that's how it works. That's fine.

The more difficult part is waiting for an answer, but again, that's par for the course. My latest effort, Emon and the Emperor, is currently with two UK agents, a US agent and a US publisher. One of the UK agents has had it for three months. But here's the thing - that's good. Especially in the case of a publisher, the longer they have your manuscript, the more likely it is that they are considering it seriously. If it's no good the acquisitions editor will read the first chapter or so and know enough to send it back with a standard rejection letter, generally within a couple of weeks. But if the first editor likes it then it gets passed up the chain for consideration by a more senior editor and, in the case of some publishers, by an entire committee, all of whom have to read the entire manuscript. That takes a long time, so often the longer the publisher (or agent) has your manuscript, the better.

So I'm being hopefully patient, because, again, that's how the system works, and I'm happy for the right answer to take a long time in coming. And I have plenty of other projects to be getting on with while I'm waiting.


  1. Well said, Anna. It is funny how in publishing nothing at all happens with your book for months and then BOOM--you're working like crazy trying to meet a publishing deadline.

    And waiting for an answer on a submission is my least favorite part of the publishing business.


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