I got a rather peculiar submission in which the author essentially wrote their own rejection. No, it wasn’t a barrage of self-deprecation (though I have seen that, and I don’t recommend it). It was an AMAZING BOOK THAT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD, AND I HAVE 24 HOURS TO GET IT PUBLISHED.
Sorry. I’m busy tonight. And that’s just not how this works.
You may have seen our #AskFuse Q&A Fridays on Twitter, and I almost always get a question regarding either wait time or the “typical experience” of submission. A few things to remember regarding what to expect:
There is no typical experience. I get it; we as a species want a known outcome. We’re uncomfortable with not knowing things, whether it’s not being able to see your surroundings in the dark or it’s waiting to hear back from that blind date you really hope you didn’t screw up this time. Or waiting to hear back from an agent or editor. The wait, or rather the not knowing, feels worse than even a negative outcome.
You’ll have to get over that. I’ll just level with you, it always takes longer than you think. For agents to read, for editors to make an offer, for the contract to come in, for the book to come out. Every stage in which you have to wait for something (and there are a lot of them) will ultimately be longer than you expect, or at least longer than you want.
“Well fine,” you might say, “I’ll do it myself.” More power to you. This really is the best time to be a writer if only for the fact that you are no longer reliant on “gatekeepers” to get published. If you want publication, you can buy it, like a haircut or a sandwich. But I’ve witnessed a lot of self-publishing, and here’s something Kindle doesn’t tell you in their ads: this route will also take you longer than you’d think. For example, almost every one of my friends’ self-published books was pushed back from its original publication date—and these are often people in the publishing industry. There’s always something wrong with the cover or “Dammit! Another typo!” Things come up. Life happens. And you don’t always know how to do every little production step that represents someone’s career at a traditional publisher.
Good work takes both expertise and time. And after spending months or often years writing your manuscript, that little bit of extra time is usually worth it to make sure your piece is treated well.
And yes, there are exceptions. Folks are quick to point to the NaNo novel that was self-pubbed on 12/1 and made the author millions or the picture book that sold within 24 hours of submission. Those are great stories, but they really are one-in-a-million situations. Forget typical, that’s not even likely. It’s in your best interest to not rely on those odds and to instead keep a level head about what this process—and it is a process—entails.