Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Missing Deadlines Can Hurt Your Career

We all know what deadlines are. These are those pesky little X's we put on our calendar telling us when projects "have to be done." In the publishing world, those little X's are more than a date when your story is finished. Those are dates that many other people are counting on you to meet because they need to start their work. Missing those deadlines might seem small on the surface, but these events will lead to losing a coveted writing contract later on.

The problem I believe many authors have stems from where they started with their writing. When most authors started, they did this as a hobby. Writing was something you did for fun. It was really easy to say, "By next month, I will have my book finished." When you showed up at the writer group you were part of, without it, there were no consequences. Life got in the way and there is always time to finish it by the next meeting.

But, when authors move into a professional writing career, they need to understand that those deadlines impact a lot of other people. Consider...

  • Your editors put you on a planning calendar for the whole year. This means that other authors are working around your schedule as well.
  • Your editors have blocked out time to read your work amid their busy schedules. 
  • Your editors have blocked out time to read your edits in between the reads for their other authors. 
  • Art departments need time to prep those book covers
  • Copy editors need to have time to look over your entire project.
  • The IT people need to have time to prepare your book for printing.
  • The book stores need to know the date the book is being released so they can get the product online and in the database for your readers.
  • etc.
This is just a basic list, but I think you get the idea.

Now, I do know that most editors are pretty flexible. Authors are always told that if there is a problem with getting something finished, give the editors plenty of notice. They can work with you. They know that life gets in the way. However, if this is always happening, it becomes pretty clear to the editors that this might be a problem and they will start to take notice. They will begin to think that maybe this person might not be the person the editors need for that next special assignment or even the contract.

I get that deadlines are tough. I get that the real world does get in the way every now and then. So if we know this, then start to factor in time knowing that these events might occur. If you get the book in early, then it might be there to fill in the holes when some other author out there misses his or her deadline.

Now who looks good??

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