When you’re an author, if there’s one thing you have to have, it’s patience. Patience for writing when there are babies crying in the background or you’re tired from a day’s work, patience for editing even though your eyes are crossing, patience for the agent query process and the inevitable wait times and rejections, and if you’re lucky, patience waiting on submissions to publishers. I am not good with patience, never have been, but I am learning whether I like it or not.
A few months ago, I was rushing to finish book one of my series ahead of it’s October release. I had gotten it in my head that it needed to happen by THIS October, there was just no other way.
I had a publishing contract with a small company, a small but growing group of loyal readers, one novella and a nearly finished manuscript under my belt. I felt like I was moving rapidly towards my goal, but then I did something I didn’t expect myself to do; I hit the brakes.
I took a moment to really evaluate my situation, my contract, my position within the publishing world (uh what position?) and I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be months before a book release. I was doing everything on my own, and rushing towards this arbitrary deadline. I was doing a disservice to my book, to my ideas and to my stories. So I reached out to my publisher and expressed my concerns, and they gave me the opportunity to get out of my contract.So I did.
I switched my plans for release, not easy to do considering I was running an entire Pubslush Campaign behind releasing my book at NY Comic Con, but I still did it. I could have self-published the book, and continued writing it at lightening speed but I didn’t want to do that. I knew self-publishing it would kill any chances I had of traditionally publishing my book, and that’s my ultimate goal, so I decided to wait. I said to hell with these made up deadlines, I am going to take my little novella to Comic Con and take my sweet time writing book one of the series. I ignored that uneasy pang in my stomach, those nerves that said “but the deadlines!” and I went for it. I want to make my book the best it can be, and when I’ve written and edited till I’m blue in the face, I want to edit it some more. I didn’t spend a year researching, and another writing just to rush things when it was most crucial I take my time and be thorough.
I know this is something many authors do, race towards a self-imposed end date, and if your goal is self-publishing and you’re trying to stay on track that’s okay. But I’ve learned (the hard way) that my end goal is not something I can get to quickly, I will really have to work, and do a lot of waiting before I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, once I made the decision not to release the book on my own (with the help of my awesome super secret FB writers group friends ❤ ) I swallowed my pride and told my Pubslush supporters the news. I told my friends, my family and my readers that it was all going to take just a bit longer than I expected. And you know what? Everyone was fine, everyone understood, because the ONLY person in a rush was ME.
Fast forward to today, I am working on the last 20 pages of book one, looking forward to NY Comic Con in October where I’ll have The Skinwalker’s Apprentice plus some sweet posters, and I am SO FREAKING HAPPY that I made the decisions I made.
The best thing I could have done for my career and my books was to wait, to take a step back, and to roll up my sleeves and really put in the work it took to get a great manuscript instead of barreling towards that pointless deadline I made up. Now I am making some awesome friends in the publishing world who I am learning so much from,
and hopefully taking my book to a new level of awesomeness with the help of CPs. I am just really enjoying the journey and process of writing my book. I also took the time to research and narrow down a list of dream agents to query once my book is finished. I couldn’t be happier with the new possibilities before me, and they all came about because I was able to wait.
It is so, so, so easy to get caught up with the idea that you have to do everything NOW, like right now! I understand deadlines (former reporter, I get it) and I understand the need to build on momentum, but there is nothing worse for your career as a writer than an unfinished or poorly written book. Don’t release it for the sake of it, or for the instant gratification that’s become a cornerstone of the “just self-publish it” mentality of today.
I don’t want to be a Debby Downer but with rare exceptions, all that hype that’s building around your book, is most likely in your head. It’s your own excitement building which makes it seem crucial to get it out NOW. But whatever momentum you have, big or little, it can keep growing even if you’re not releasing anything just yet. Start a blog, interview others in publishing and write about it, become active in the literary world somehow, get creative! But don’t release your book before it’s ready, and don’t think the only way to get it out there is to self-publish it. This is simply not true. Are the mechanics of pressing “upload” on Amazon a lot easier than querying 20 agents, putting detail and thought into each query and then waiting sometimes months for a response? Yes of course. But just putting the book up for sale is not enough to get it noticed, or further your career (not to mention all the work you need to do to make sure the book is ready for release in the first place). There is tons of hard work involved in self-publishing too, don’t fool yourself into thinking it will be a cakewalk.
So I just want to tell you, it’s okay to wait. It’s okay to push things back, and edit your book one more time if you think it needs that. It’s okay to go back and revise a scene that you feel uneasy about. It’s OKAY to do an overhaul of your manuscript when you keep getting rejected by agents. There is nothing wrong with making something you created better, there’s no shame in continuing to polish your MS until it shines. There is nothing wrong with taking a step back and taking your time. Think of all the thousands of other writers out there and realize you need something to set you apart. You don’t just need an awesome book (which you won’t get anyway if you’re rushing it) but you also need a lot of patience. A lot.
P.S. There is another #MSWL ( AND a super awesome #SecretProject!!) coming up on September 3rd for all you writers seeking agents!