Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Remember, Trends Started 3 Years Ago

I love talking to new writers. There is a level of innocence that is so great to work with. For many of these authors, there is a real desire to make sure they are writing what people are really interested in. The problem, however, is where they get that information from. What they fail to realize is that what they are looking at as "being popular right now" actually started a while ago. In other words, what you see on the shelves is not necessarily what editors and agents are looking for.

Writers need to remember that the process of publishing takes a while. In other words, that book you are starting today has a long way to go before it makes it into the hands of the readers. Think of it this way:
  • Jan 1, 2012 - You start your story
  • April 30, 2012 - You finish it
  • May 30, 2012 - You start sending it out to agents
  • July 1, 2012 - An agent loves it and signs you (this is really wishful thinking but bear with me. the odds are it will be a lot longer)
  • September 1, 2012- You have finished all of the revisions the agent wanted to make the story perfect for who they wanted to send it to.
  • September 15, 2012 - The agent has sent your proposals out to potential editors.
  • October 31-December 31 - The agent is hearing back from people. This is giving editors 1-3 months to look at the project. For this story, let's say they call on Christmas Day (what a present!)
  • December 25, 2012 - You get the call. The editor now has to send paperwork to the contracts department and get paperwork gets going.
  • January 2, 2013 (we all partied too hard with the celebration of the sale) the agent reviews the contracts negotiates a bit for that big 7 figure deal and you get to sign the paperwork.
  • January 15, 2013 Editor sends you revisions.
  • February 1, 2013 You get the revisions back to the editor (Let's assume you were amazing here and only had 1 round of revisions)
  • Christmas present 2013 - You get to see the book on the shelves (depending on the number of other books the publisher is producing)
Now, this timeline is for authors that are REALLY lucky, that the revisions you have are not extensive or repetivitive and so forth. Still, in this case, we are looking at a full two years.

Of course for many of you, this will be a lot longer. When you find out about what editors are looking for, they are not expecting you to go out and start writing it that day. They are talking about you having that story already done and ready to go. They are talking about you already having an agent who has had their ear to the ground and really ready to go.

So, what should a writer do? We always say to just sit down and write the best dang story you can. Quit looking for trends. Quit trying to chase those trends. If you hear a demand for something, and you happen to have it, THEN jump on it.