Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hurry Up … and Wait

image by S.D. Skye
I self published my first novel before a lucky break resulted in a two-book deal with a “Big 6” publisher. While I’d learned a lot about the publishing business through indie publishing, I knew zero, zilch, nada about the traditional process. Two years and two books later, I can tell you from experience that understanding The Waiting Game will save you lots of stress.
When you finally say yes to the brilliant editor who had the professional insight to recognize your brilliant prose for the literary jewel it is, the waiting game begins. From that point forward, be prepared to hurry. And wait. And hurry. And wait.
Your first wait will be a period of several weeks/months between the day you/your agent accept the offer and the day you receive the contract to sign. You’ll hurry to sign it…and then wait. Another few weeks/months will pass between the time you submit your contract and receive your first advance installment. Then you…wait.
Once “you’re in” and your book is on the schedule, there’s…well…more waiting. Your editor will first do a developmental edit to flesh out issues in your manuscript. You wait, hurry up to complete your revisions, resubmit, and…wait. Next your manuscript may go to a copyeditor who will provide your “first pass” pages (the pages that actually begin to look like your book). You’ll hurry up and revise, resubmit, and, yep, wait. You may receive second and third pass pages at which time you will…well…(see above). Concurrently, you will receive a mock up of your cover design. Requesting changes? You guessed it…more waiting. This could go on for several months, depending on your publication schedule.
During this time, it will be critically important that you conjure up every ounce of patience you can muster and just take the waiting game on the chin. Every author must endure it—even the bestselling ones. Understand that you aren’t your editor’s (or publisher’s) only author. Understand that depending on your publisher, they may collectively be working on tens to hundreds of books at the same time. Understand that the often deafening silence from your editor is not professional rejection, nor a personal slight. He (she) is busy purchasing and publishing books.
The traditional publishing process is a lot like giving birth. Yes, the labor can be arduous. But when you hold your beautiful baby in your hands all will be forgotten.

S.D. Skye is an award-winning romantic comedy author and a former Senior Intelligence/Operations Analyst for FBI Counterintelligence and other members of the US Intelligence Community. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Maryland Writers Association. The first book in her debut romantic suspense series, loosely based on her 20 year career in the U.S. Intelligence Community, is slated to be released in 2013. For more updates, please visit

The Seven Year Itch: A J.J. McCall Novel
A born lie detector, FBI Agent J.J. McCall is drawn into a desperate Russian mole hunt when a valuable source slated to identify an FBI turncoat mysteriously gets recalled to Moscow and her jerk boss is arrested for the unthinkable. Although she'd like nothing better than to let him rot in jail, her "gift" reveals nothing is what it seems, pitting J.J. and her sexy co-case agent in a race against time to save several lives—including their own.


CathyP said...

So true. Of course, we're all writing the next book while we wait. :)

Congratulations on your upcoming release.

S.D. Skye said...

Thank you so much for the well wishes. I'm in yet another waiting mode but I hope it'll all get cleared up soon

Yes, we definitely write on. For me, it's a more distracted writing process because I'm constantly checking my email to see when I'll receive the next communication in order to clear the first book completely off my plate and focus.

While not a perfect system, it usually does result in high quality books, so the patience you have to expend getting through the process is well worth it. :)

Unknown said...

SD, thanks so much for sharing your story.

What did you realize about writing for a publishing house that makes your writing life easier than when you were an indie?

S.D. Skye said...

Great question. I can tell you that as an indie, once you get into the business of book design, marketing and selling, your writing takes a backseat.

No, backseat doesn't quite capture the essence.

You're standing outside the publishing stadium of life and you've left writing on the curb in front of your house.

Slightly exaggerated but there's very little time to dedicate to getting your next novel off the ground if you are a first time author with no stable of books that fans have already fallen in love with. You really have to get the word out about your book which means a lot of social networking, a lot of reaching out to booksellers, a lot of contacting reviewers and shipping books. A lot of blogging and writing interviews. It's very hard to find balance. Unless, you're crazy like me and NEVER sleep. NEVER take vacations. NEVER venture outside your house on the weekends except to collect your mail from the box at the curb. And what friends? Oh...those people who bought you a cake that time for your day...last year.

For me, getting a contract was the difference between writing one book and writing five--including my upcoming J.J. McCall Series. Big difference. Because you have top cover, you have more time to create. That for me has been the biggest blessing of all.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

You are soo right S.D... Marketing is much tougher than writing, I find. If only there was an easy way...sigh... Oh well - onwards and upwards!

S.D. Skye said...

Pat, people don't really understand how much marketing you really have to do in the beginning before you get a single review or a single sale. I came into self publishing while it still had a major stigma around it. Before this big evolution. So, not only did you have to overcome people not knowing who the heck you were, people would scrunch their noses if you said you were self published and it didn't matter how good your book was. Right around the time Boyd Morrison's novel got picked up, mine got picked by the same publisher. They were really ahead of the game in terms of accepting self published works at the time.

What I eventually learned to do was set a specific number of marketing activities to do every single day and I would schedule a time frame to do them. Whether it was tweeting and getting new followers, posting on FB, leaving my opinion on forums such as Kindleboards or whatever. I just marketed consistently. That is the key. Most people do this rush of marketing at the beginning and then drop off as soon as they start a new project which I've learned you can't do. Marketing should have a place in your schedule just about every day whether you're self published or you're traditional published. It's not putting your name in front of readers that will build your brand, but KEEPING your reader in front of readers that will build your brand.

jenny milchman said...

Ah, the waiting game. It's funny, time for me since I received my offer has seem to fly by--even though in truth it will be 20 months between offer and shelf. But before that I'd written 8 novels over the course of 11 years, trying to be published. THAT entailed a lot of waiting. My clock has been recalibrated and now even the time table of the Big 6 seems delightfully swift :)

It's interesting that you self-published originally. I think that can be a wonderful way in for authors, but one of the things I worry about is the loss of the waiting game. For me, only an 11 year wait forced me to write the best book I could. I think that indie authors are going to have to find ways to impose that sort of apprenticeship even when it's not forced from without.

Anyway, a lot of food for thought in your post--thanks!