Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Revolving Door(s) of Publishing

by R.C. Lewis

"Change is the only constant."

The math teacher in me can only think that such a sentence will confuse my students. But really, it's a contradiction that works. One of the only things we can count on is that things change. Publishing is no different ... maybe in ways you haven't thought of. Mostly in ways that prove none of us ever "have it made."

My book is completely done! (Pre-Querying)
Hopefully it's ready to query. If so, it's done enough ... but it's not done. You're going to make changes. Maybe with your agent before you go on submission. Definitely with your editor after you sell. Don't think of your manuscript as a finished thing. Don't get too attached to how it looks right now. Think of it as malleable, waiting to be taken from Awesome to Awesome-PLUS.

I have an agent—I'm out of the query trenches forever!
You and your agent may be a match made in heaven. Even if you are, the relationship may not be permanent. Agents quit the business. Writers decide to take their career in a direction their current agent isn't well-suited for—these splits can be amicable.

Or you discover your agent isn't the hot stuff you thought they were.

These things happen. They happen all the time. And back to the query trenches you go.

My editor is part of the immutable triad formed by me and my agent!
Well, I already covered that your relationship with your agent isn't immutable. The editor who buys your book may not be the one who sees you through to publication. Sometimes because the publisher hands it off to another editor after acquisition as a matter of course. Sometimes (particularly with the length of time the traditional publishing process takes) because your original editor gets a job at a different publishing house.

That happened to me. It's not the end of the world. It's not even a bad thing. Though some people found their new editor wasn't as fond of their project as the original one ... and that sucks.

I've been published once, so now I just rinse/repeat for the rest of my career!
Unfortunately, a label of "successful manuscript-seller" must be re-earned on each and every outing. The next manuscript may not sell. And this goes for all the details of the deal, too. Your next advance may be a different size. Your next contract will almost certainly have different provisions. You'll probably get different treatment by a different publishing house in varying ways.

Maybe this post seems like a big ol' downer, but it's not. It's not cause for despair.

We just need to be aware that a lot of things can change. That way when a change comes along to smack us in the face, sure, we might feel a sting. But we'll also know others have been through the same.

And we keep rolling.

R.C. Lewis teaches math to teenagers—sometimes in sign language, sometimes not—so whether she's a science geek or a bookworm depends on when you look. Her debut novel Stitching Snow is coming from Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2014, and she's been lucky enough to work on it with TWO awesome editors. You can find R.C. on Twitter (@RC_Lewis) and at her website.

1 comment:

Sophie Perinot said...

plus ├ža change that is for darn sure. But if any of us let the specter of unexpected hurdles (some of which will see us lying on our faces in the mud) deter us then well we wouldn't be in the writing business.