Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quicker Release Times With E-Publishing Doesn't Mean a Faster Publishing World

As an agent, I have always been frustrated with authors that expect an overnight response to their submission. They seem to think that since they can read their story overnight, why can't the agent. Now that we have a rise in "e-publishing" opportunities (although I call many of them e-printing opportunities) there is this belief that we will all be reading stories faster. This is far from the truth.

When I look at a potential client at Greyhaus, one of the things I always look for is a knowledge of the business. Does this person really get how the whole system works. Needless to say, the awareness of the speed of publishing is always a good sign of someone who gets it. For those who don't know, or need a reminder, let's have a refresher course.

First of all, remember there is only one of me and a lot of you. That alone should say a lot.
Secondly, agents and editors have more on their plate than simply reading submissions. This includes, but certainly not limited to:
  • Working with their current clients and their projects.
  • Talking to editors about future projects.
  • Discussing contracts
  • Reading those critiques you always want us to do with your contests.
And them add in editors who also have to:
  • Meet with marketing
  • Meet with art departments
  • Meet with each other
  • Edit all of their client's work.
Now that we have the business side of things out of the way, let's also think about what happens to your book during that reading process. An editor, in particular, will not simply read your book and want to sign it. They have to take that story to the full team and convince them. In some cases, those stories go through 1 or more outside reads just to get a feel of things.

Assuming you do get an offer, now the details have to get to the business office, who write up the contract, discuss that with the big team, send it to you (or your agent), you review it, you send it back, they get counter signatures and then we can talk about revisions.

I think you get the idea of what is going on here. Part of the reason publishing your book takes so much time is that now, there are more people involved. In the past, it was just you. Now you have a team and everyone is seriously multi-tasking. Just becaus we are doing it electronically does not mean it moves any faster (other than the fact we don't have to factor in the postal service).



  1. It's always good to be reminded about how tedious getting published actually is.

  2. It puzzles me when people seem to think all an agent does is read queries and sign clients. What do they think happens after those clients are signed? I'd imagine that's where the bulk of your work happens: working on edits, pitching to editors, negotiating contracts, serving as a mediator between author and publisher, etc.

    And for those who think an editor can just get a story, read it overnight, and make an offer the next day: how often do you read a novel in a night? OK, for some people this might be a semi-regular practice for some readers, but most people take at least a few days, if not weeks. And editors have to work on the other books they've already purchased as well, not to mention all the other tasks Mr. Eagan listed in the post.

    I read faster on a computer or my e-reader than I do with print books for some reason, but I'm still not magic. I doubt anyone else is, either.