Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hurry up and Wait!

That should be the official tagline of the entire publishing industry. Just about everything about publishing is rushing (us writers, eager to turn out good material in hopes of snagging a contract) and waiting (lots and lots of waiting).

I've become so "good" at waiting that I fear no lightning strike if I say, the one thing writing has taught me is patience.

And while my agent is reading this laughing her ass off and muttering, "Patient? She wouldn't know patient if it poked her in the eye." The scary part is, I am MUCH more patient than I was before I jumped headfirst back into writing and began the submission process, three years ago.

But, ahem, back to the matter at hand.

Writers always want to know how long different parts of the process takes. And the overall answer, no matter the question, seems to be "It varies."


Want to know the average advance for a first book?

It varies.

How many words the average YA book should be?

It varies.

How many hours it takes P to put on her super cool rock star author face?

It varies.

Nah, only a few minutes. I'm a low-maintenance chick when it comes to getting glam -lip gloss, smack and go.

But "how long" is a typical question in writer's circles. As if knowing the answer will make the waiting any less painful. I'm not so sure that's the case. But "it varies" only served to frustrate me when I was doing my research on industry standards.

Some of us Type A's need a real answer, if only to have something to obsess over later.

So get out your notepads, class, because I've broken down exactly how long it takes for things to move from point A to point L.

NOTE: My book isn't out yet. I can't honestly sit here and tell you how to get to point Z until March.

So here it long does it take to:

Finish a book?

39 months give or take a few years. Because there's finished and there's FINISHED.

Some of us are ponderers and can take YEARS (literally) to finish a book. Others are more Speedy Gonzalez and write books in a matter of weeks (moi).

Finished by a writer's standard means it doesn't suck eggs and is good enough for people outside your familial circle to read without laughing directly in your face.

But I did say there's FINISHED and that's when the people who are paying you says it's done. Get back at me in about a month, because I'm still revising my very first book.

The little ticker in my head says, from the day I penned the novel until now is right around 39 months.

Get an agent?

Three months to a year.

This one is a toughie. But I promised not to waffle on any of these answers. You will always walk away with a hard figure...a soft figure...okay, an estimate based on my own experience.

Agent hunting - which, by the way, does not involve prowling the streets of New York with your manuscript and an oversized net - requires a great deal of research to sift out the nuts, whack jobs and scam artists. But once you do and begin submitting, it truly varies.

Sorry. I hate to use the "V" word. But, we're talking a very subjective industry, here. I'm sticking with the 3-12 month average, assuming the feedback you're getting from agents is along the lines of "your writing is good, just not for me."

My own experience would only skew the numbers.

It took me 24 months, because I worked with one agent for a full year before he finally rejected the book. Then I took four months off to re-assess the project before re-submitting. So the 12 month average is based on continuous searching and fertilizing agent-land with queries.

Find a publisher?

Okay, this I don't know much about because I took the agent route. But from what I hear from writers who submitted directly to publishers, this can be a very slow process.

I'll throw out some averages and say 6 to 18 months.

Any writer who has taken this road, please jump in with more accurate numbers, in case mine are snickerifically under or over estimated.

Sell a book?

Two to fifteen weeks

Don't anyone go jumping all over me for this one if they feel this is a terribly low estimate. P speaks only from her own corner of the publishing process, which is lit by the flame provided by my agent and editor.

In my own defense, this is based on multiple submissions and not exclusives. Exclusives always add lots o' time onto the process.

I'd love to say my book sold on that two week end. But ah, it didn't. And my book was also being subbed right around the Christmas holidays - so who knows how that affected this highly scientific timeline.

Sell your first 10,000+ books?

Yeah, I wish I knew. And I hope my answer will be, three months. But let's leave that for next year, shall we?

Make lots of money?

Wow, these things are tougher and tougher to answer. First, I'd need a definition on "lots."

Whew, dodged that bullet!

Become a real writer?

Easiest question of all. You're a real writer the second you put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) for the sheer joy of wanting to share stories with the world.

So, what have we learned about how long it takes to go from aspiring author to hiding behind your stunner shades dodging gaggles of enamored readers clamoring for your autograph?

That it varies.

Class dismissed.


Anonymous The Hive Mind said...

Thanks, this is helpful. I'm getting ready to start shopping my novel around again to agents/publishers. I had to put this process on pause to deal with other issues, but I'm going to pick up on it again soon.

As for the rush/wait process, I'm sorta use to that as a technical writer, although not to the extent you're referring to. I am often pressed to hurry up and write a document; however, once I finish, proof/edit it, and pass it on for review, that's where the process slows down dramatically at times. At this point, I usually feel frustrated because the SME and management reviewers don't tend to care for the deadlines I give them or the deadlines I'm under to have a document finished. I sometimes go past the deadline from just waiting on them to read the doc, and that causes me to rush and put in extra time to finish up any changes. Fortunately, there changes are often small ones.

6:28 PM

Blogger writeaway said...

Hey, Miss P. Great blog because I get asked the same questions and I try to give a rough estimate but always CMA (cover my a@@) with the irritatingly overused, IT VARIES.

The word that best describes me in this business is impatient and that just won't jive. I'm learning, though. I subbed my first MG to a publishers last year (Sept 05) and I still haven't gotten a few responses back. From what I've read about these certain publishers I've subbed to, they can take up to a year or so for a rejection. I've moved on.

That's where my YA ms. comes in. After writing that, I subbed to agents instead of publishers. Not only did I get the agent, I'm doing my 3rd revision, possibly working on a series, and I put pen to paper again to begin creating my next masterpiece.

All of this was done and yes, I'm still waiting to hear about my original MG ms.-lol

I say all of this to say that you really can't give an answer because sometimes there is no set answer. The one thing I can suggest is to begin writing and find out for yourself.

Good luck to all.

12:22 PM

Blogger Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

"It varies" is overused but it's about as close to a real answer there is. That's the sad part!

Hearing about other's experiences makes me more patient. When my agent subbed my work and we hadn't heard anything back within 4 weeks...well no yes's, it helped to hear others say 4 weeks was nothing.

When I was waiting on my contract (ahh..still am) hearing other writers say the contract process took upwards of 6 months and beyond let me know I was still within the norm.

So "it varies" is true but I'd rather hear someone tell me how long it took for them so I have SOME sort of gauge. Even if my experience ends up being different.

Type A, ya' know.

5:02 PM


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