Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rachelle Gardner's advice on dealing with impatience

A lot of thoughtful advice here from Rachelle Gardner at Books and Such Agency, on dealing with impatience.

I talked briefly yesterday about agents being slow sometimes. Well, unfortunately, that often holds true for the entirety of the "traditional publishing" industry. Writers have a lot of options that they didn't have a few years ago, but it's important to make choices that are best for you, that will further your career-- and not just leaping on whatever opportunity comes your way because you want it now now now.

I've had a number of queries in the past year or two from people offering me the second book in a planned trilogy, where they've already self-published the first. Please do not do this. Self-publish if you wish; certainly there have been a number of terrific success stories in that arena in the past few years. But unless your self-published work is flying off the shelves, virtual or otherwise, it's going to be nearly impossible to get a publisher interested in a series that's already underway.

Maybe you tried self-publishing and it wasn't for you. Fair enough! It's a lot of work, and not everyone enjoys the self-promotional aspects of it. Maybe you didn't sell as many copies as you hoped, and would rather give traditional publishing a shot. That's fine too. But when you offer me the second book in a trilogy, I find myself with two concerns:

-the writing isn't strong enough to attract publisher interest (this is an unfair assumption, I'll grant you, but one of the things everyone loves about self-publishing is that the barriers to entry are lower.)

-the writer wanted an agent and a publisher all along, but was too impatient to jump through the industry hoops. Agents get really good at "reading the tea leaves" from a query letter; I'm trying to suss out as much information as I can about what you might be like to work with. If you thought query response times were too slow, wait till you find out how long it takes your publisher to get your book into stores. You're going to get frustrated, and then some, and you're likely to be somewhat harder to work with as a result.  (Scroll down to "Sixthly" in Neil Gaiman's commencement address here, for some more thoughts on this point.)

If you're in this exact situation, where you've self-published part of a series and would now like an agent or a traditional publisher, here's my advice: start another series. Let everybody-- agent, publisher, readers-- feel like they got in on the ground floor.

What's your strategy for dealing with impatience? How do you make the waiting easier?

5 comments:

Giora said...

The publishing industry is very slow. I trade teh stock market for a living, where decisions are being made in seconds and you can see the results, good or bad, in a short time. Being a part time author allows me to accept the slow pace, like 2 years, of book moving from the author to an agent to an editor to be published and to a book store and finally to teh hands of readers. I'm not sure that the process has to be so slow, but authors must accpt the reality. So while they wait, they better have another job or write another book. You make waiting easier by .. not waiting. Do something else instead of waiting.

Shoshanna Evers said...

I have so much to say about this but I keep writing comments and deleting them. LOL I guess the easiest answer is to just keep writing and...

...always have a WIP, a new release, and a future release at the same time. That's my motto. I just made it up, right now.

Shoshanna Evers said...

And bless your heart for getting rid of Captcha!

Kara said...

I don't know how to make the waiting EASIER, though there are ways to contain the crazy that can take over while you're waiting. Write something else. Go for a walk. Give the dogs a bath. Rearrange your office furniture. Make a word cloud :D.
Waiting kinda sucks. Plain and simple. Contain the crazy...that's my plan. I do like Shoshanna's motto, though. A WIP, a new release and a future release all at the same time. Three lines...no waiting.

Adele Carsson said...

I'm with Shoshanna and Kara. A watched inbox never receives e-mails. I un-wait myself by working on my WIP and going running (so as to un-weight the weight I added while eating chips and cookies as I was working on my WIP, supposedly not waiting...)

It's enough to make an author crazy.