Monday, August 12, 2013

It's All About Being In The Right Place At The Right Time

One of the things that makes publishing so difficult, along with the natural subjectivity of it, is the issue of timing. There is the belief that if a piece of writing is good, it will certainly be published. I do with this were the case. Unfortunately, you can have a great piece of writing, but if the timing isn't in alignment with the submission, then it may not ever make it to the bookstore.

There are actually a lot of cases where timing, and, being in the right place at the right time are the reasons for the success or failure of a book. Let's look at the cases when timing works against you first.

  1. You submit a story a day after the editor or agent just signed someone with that same idea. This one happens more often than you think. I know because it happened to me. I submitted a fantastic romantic suspense to an editor who completely loved the writing, but, she had just signed an author with a similar approach and now the slots were full. Needless to say, she wasn't looking for something like that now. A week ago, yes. Today, no. As an agent, one of the things I don't want to happen is for my authors to be in competition with each other. I never want an editor to have to make a decision between two of the Greyhaus authors. In this case, if I just signed someone writing dark demon paranormal romances for Avon, then I won't sign yours, at least not now.
  2. You submit a project on a day when the editor or agent isn't in a good mood. This is one you really can never plan for. In this case, you have to remember that editors and agents are often reading your submissions during their "out of the office" time. They read your stories on the way home from work. They read your projects in the evening at home. Now, please understand that we try to be very objective and aware of how we feel, but sometimes we miss it. If we are in a not so happy mood, then nothing may sound good. I do know that if I do feel like nothing is going to work for a submission, I try to leave it for another day when I am more open to projects. Still, there are times that I have to read submissions because the pile is too large. It happens.
  3. You have written a kick-butt story and the market shifts. In this case, things just change in the market. We reach a point with sub-genres and topics that things just reach a point that it doesn't work any more. If you look back over time, you can see how quickly things changed. One year chick-lit was all the rage, the next year, if you said your story was chick-lit, it was a death sentence. I just saw on Twitter last week that one line said that stories in Las Vegas and Hollywood were out now. I many ways, we're talking about trends. 
  4. You have written a kick-butt story and something happens in the world. The political thriller people really experienced this with the 9/11 scenario. Suddenly, terrorism issues were pretty taboo. Anything that is pretty touchy out there in the real world can really mess with your writing.
But the reverse is also true.
  1. Catch me on a good day, and we sign a lot of authors or request a lot.
  2. Something happens in the world and your story now becomes perfectly relevant!
  3. You submit to an agent after he or she has found out an editor is looking for just that project.
  4. You sit at a conference table with an agent or editor that has been hard to connect with.
The point is simple. Yes, we say it is all about the manuscript, but there are also far too many other variables that might come into play. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting topic though it seems little can be done by the author to control these events except for possibly paying attention to trends and avoiding what's hot right now. Unless of course you care to let me know when it's a "good day" ;)