Anyone in the business who knows me knows that I am always shopping something. And one of the most important lessons I have learned through this is how much patience one must have in publishing. If you don’t have it now, you will before you’re done…or you’ll quit.
Better to just accept the reality now.
Here are two examples of what I mean that happen to overlap chronologically.
The piece I am shopping. I sent out the majority of my queries over the summer: May-(mid)August. Now, considering how many agents/agencies have adopted a “no response means no policy,” I tend to give them about three months before I write a query off as dead. So, even the last of the queries I sent this summer were “dead” by mid-November. I had some fulls and partials still outstanding, but I figured the queries were done. No problem, I’d just move on with life. (Please note, it will also be to your benefit to adopt this policy on subbing.)
In the meantime, I’m working on two other books: one for a publisher and one for a self-pub box set I’m part of. Because I have history with my editor at said publisher, I plan my fall around when I expect edits. I wait, and when I start worrying they were somehow lost in the depths of the internet, I email. At this point I’m reassured that she hasn’t sent them yet, but they’re coming soon. Okey-doke. Meanwhile, I schedule with a freelance editor for the other piece.
The holidays come and the holidays go, and I’m about to get started on edits for the box set when BAM! something hits my inbox. I rush to email (as you do), expecting to find the edits for the other book. Imagine my surprise to find an email from one of those agents I queried mid-summer…requesting pages. Obviously, I sent them (as you do). The edits came in a couple hours later (because the universe hates me).
In the midst of trying to do first round edits on two contemporary romances back-to-back, I took a break to update my querytracker list. (Because, as I said, I’d already written said agent off as “no response means no.”) While on the site, I looked at comments to discover that in addition to being at roughly 5-6 months for query responses, the agent recently updated about being up-to-date on requested materials…through like June. Which means it’ll likely be summer before I hear back again.
Back to edits I went. (Because I’m a damned professional, that’s why.) When you query, when you work with editors, or cover artists, or anyone, there is a certain amount of flexibility necessary. You control the work when it’s in your hands, but once you send it out, you have to trust other people to do their part–often in their time.
What is the lesson in all this? That nothing–no matter how carefully you think you plan–will run on your timeframe so long as other people are involved. It’s part of the business, one that every author will have to learn to deal with.
Certainly, sometimes things go according to plan, but more often things most definitely don’t. So, to your list of authorly requirements, add patience and adaptability. You’re going to need them.