Friday, March 6, 2015

Understanding Deadlines

When authors move from writing as a hobby to writing as a profession, one of the first challenges
many face is that of the deadline. Up until that moment, they were able to write when they wanted, finish things when they wanted and there simply was no pressure, other than the desire to finish something. But now we have deadlines and working with these can be tough.

The concept of a deadline can be pretty tough to understand in a a market that moves so slow. I did hear one author wonder why she had to get a book to her publisher so soon when the release date for the book was months away. What many authors fail to realize is that deadlines are set to allow the time for the book to make its way through the other levels of the publishing world. After the book leaves your hands as an author, it is then in many more hands on the publisher side.

  • Editors will read it several more times
  • Your book may pass to a couple of other readers for some feedback
  • Art departments need it for cover design
  • Business departments need it for marketing purposes
  • Copy and line editors need it to work through all of the kinks
  • The computer people need it to get the layout just right
and all of this takes time.

We have to remember that editors (and agents too) have other clients who also have projects that need work.

and all of this takes time.

But here is the interesting thing many writers fail to understand. Deadlines can be flexible. Editors and agents are very aware that "real life" does get in the way sometimes. Kids get sick. Computers crash. You name it, things happen. This is part of the reason there is such a huge gap between your submission time and when the book is released. There is built in flexibility.

Editors and agents are more than willing to make adjustments to your deadlines, but they need some notice before it happens. Missing the deadline is not the best time to tell them something happened. Letting them know in advance gives them a chance to make adjustments to their other projects and schedules. Sometimes they can adjust release times to take care of those unexpected events.

Here at Greyhaus, one of the things I have always told my authors is to strive to beat those deadlines. When the editor wants a project in 6 weeks, shoot for 4 weeks. The idea is simple. If your project is on their desk early, A) they don't have to worry about the project; and B) if one of the other writers misses that deadline, your project is ready to slip into that spot.

For those of you who are not under contract yet, I do encourage you to set a deadline for a book. Practice this skill! It will pay off for you when that contracted work does show up!

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