Showing posts with label patience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label patience. Show all posts

Is Book Publishing Like a Sprint or a Marathon?

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Many writers want to publish a book. From my many years in publishing, I find few of them have thought about whether the process of publishing a book is like a sprint (something with a burst of speed) or a marathon (steady and consistent to complete the task). I often see authors who want to sprint to publication or sprint to get a book contract or a bestseller. Reality is that often it takes consistent, hard work to produce anything of excellence—the writing or the marketing. Authors are not overnight successes but instead spend years in the trenches faithfully working to get their work noticed and sold.

Recently a young author outside of the U.S. wrote and asked if a decision had been made on his manuscript. It had been less than two weeks since I had corresponded with this author and it took a number of emails until he gave me what I needed to submit his work. I told this author if he wants a “no, thank you” then I could do that right away but if he wants a “yes” with a publishing contract then that takes patience and time.

While there are many keys in book publishing, in this article, I want to emphasize four important areas.

1) You Need A Great Product

Too many authors want to dash off something and rush it into the marketplace. I've seen it in my own work and the work of others. Haste often makes waste or mistakes. Take the time to write an excellent book or book proposal. The book proposal is your business plan for your book—whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction—whether you are self-publishing or traditional. You need a plan and it is important to build the plan with a great manuscript. The writing has to be excellent. You need others to affirm that excellence before rushing it to the market. 

The devil is in the details. Are all of the details in place for your book before you take it to the marketplace? Does it have a great title? Does it have an attractive cover? Does the first page make me want to turn to the second page? Does the copy on the back cover, draw me to going to the cash register? Another author sent me a full-color children's book which had no descriptive information on the back cover. Yes it had a barcode and the name of the publisher but nothing to draw me to buy the book. It is a huge omission and lowers the standard for this product. Don't make these basic errors because you are eager to get your book to the market.

2) You Need to Build an Audience

You've poured a lot of energy and effort into your book. Will you have readers or people who want to read your work—and who are excited about it that they tell others? When someone tells another person about a book, that is called “Word of Mouth.” It is golden when it happens and takes work from the author. As an author you can't lean on your publisher to market your book and build your audience. You have to take your own responsibility for marketing your own book. I understand the reluctance—and I've been there too but I tell every author as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James that they have 80% of the responsibility. Our publishing house will sell the book into the bookstores but all of those books can be returned if the author doesn't promote their book. 

I have much more detail and many more ideas in Platform Building Ideas for Every Author which is free (click on the image). 
3) You Need to Have Patience

The majority of book publishing is not quick. You send your material to editors and agents yet do not get a response or receive a response months after your submission.  The reality is that it takes time to build consensus among colleagues to issue a book contract or to make a contract offer to publish. As a writer you want to follow-up and make sure the editor or agent received your material and everything is in process. But in contrast, you do not want to push because most of the time when you push, you will nudge that professional toward sending you a polite “no thank you.”

Instead of pushing for a decision, you are better to begin another project. Write a one page query letter for a magazine article. Pitch a magazine editor to assign you to become a columnist. Begin a new book project or book proposal. This effort will remove your focus on the project which is under consideration. 

4) You Need to Have More Than One Project

If you have more than one proposal or one book, you will be less anxious about the submission and be able to shift your focus to the new project or new writing assignment. It will increase your own productivity in the writing world. 

How do you view book publishing? As a marathon or a sprint? I'd love to have your comments or any other way I can help you with this process. As an acquisitions editor, I'm constantly looking for good books to publish. Don't hesitate to contact me and my work contact information is on the second page of this link.

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. On October 5th, his classic Book Proposals That $ell (the revised edition) released to online and brick and mortar bookstores. At the book website, you can get a free Book Proposal Checklist. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

More Help for New Writers - Patience

Last month we looked at ways for new writers to handle rejection.

Another important topic for discussion is patience. Without it, you will become disappointed and give up. 

I like quick results. When I taught K-4th grade art classes, I chose projects the students could take home later that day (unless we were working with clay or paper mâché). When I was asked to teach a drawing class for high school, I learned about process and the patience it requires.

Building a writing career is a process. There are very few overnight successes. Whether you are freelancing, writing for magazines, or writing a book, there are slow and steady steps which require patience for success.

Step 1 - Starting a blog

In early 2012, the first step I took in my writing career was creating a blog. It helped me be serious about what I wanted to do: build my platform. That means writing to a specific audience on a topic I am passionate about and gain credibility. It's been a slow and steady process, but I have a good following and readers from all over the world.

Once we create our blog, we're pretty proud of it. The layout, colors, font, and photos reflects our personality. It's like welcoming someone into your home and making them feel comfortable.

But after about a week or two, we wonder where our followers are. 

Statistics state, in 2012, there were over 173 million blogs and climbing. Finding you by chance is slim. Dedication takes patience and you need both to gain followers. When you get published, readers will either know who you are through your blog, or you will have a place for readers to land and know more about you.

Step 2 - Educating yourself

Another step is learning all you can. Technology is always changing and it's important to keep current. Learn how to do cover letters, how to get published, how search engines work, and more. You don't need a degree to be a successful writer but it can only help to take some courses. Many online are free or very affordable. 

I realized the value of this as I began writing. Be cautious of thinking you have a gift and can jump right in. You're a small fish in a big pond. Don't let this scare you, just do your homework. 

Step 3 - Waiting, waiting, and more waiting

I think we're all pretty conditioned to be impatient in today's world.  

Ask any writer who submits their work to magazines. It's typical to be told it will take 6+ weeks to be contacted regarding acceptance of your work. Sometimes you are not contacted at all. Many successful authors submitted their manuscript to several publishers before they landed a contract.

The key is not to give up. If you get discouraged easily, it may be because of impatience.  

You've heard it before: slow and steady wins the race. Your goals will be reached when you are patient. Celebrate your small successes along the way until the day you reach the finish line!


After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts

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