Monday, August 31, 2009

On deadlines

For some reason, I think I have done something like this before, or maybe it was just from a prior dream I had of writing about this, still, today seems as good a day as any to write about these ugly little things. Deadlines are necessary evils in the publishing industry.

No, deadlines are not something an evil editor created just to make your life miserable. As writers, we have to remember that if your book is to get on the shelves, you have to finish your work so other people can get on with their work. Think about building a house. The roofers can't do anything until the framers get the house up. The appliance people can't install their hardware until the electricians and plummers get their work done. Same with your book.

Editors have the same thing. Once you get your book to the editor, he or she has to read through the whole thing one more time (this might be number 5 or 6 remember) to make sure the content is up to snuff. Then it is off to the copy editor, the art department, the business department and so forth for those people to get their work done. It also has to get proofed enough to be put in an ARC format to get out to the reviewers or to those people that we wanted for cover comments. Now, if you miss your deadline, that puts everyone behind schedule. Don't forget that the editor put you into the cycle of releases a while ago. It isn't as if they wait until you are done and stick you in anywhere. You have a space to fill.

I bring all of this up because as an agent, I too look for authors that can make deadlines. If we pitch a story to someone on proposal and tell the editors how quickly we can get the story to them I have to keep that promise. I am counting on the writer to meet that deadline, and prefereably to beat the deadline. This is one of the reasons why I am so firm with my turn around time on requests. If you pitch a story to me and I want to see more, you have 1 month to get it to me. Now, I will tell you, that turn around time is based on snail mail submissions. Are you ready to submit when we ask?

If you are a person that struggles with deadlines, but wants to be a writer, that I recommend that you get on a schedule. Set smaller goals for yourself but do something. In the end, you will be happier and your editor and agent will certainly like your dedication.


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