I talk a lot about perseverance and writing being a marathon, not a sprint. Lately, I’ve been reminded of just how true that is.
I’ve been working as acquisitions editor at Rebelight Publishing for almost three years. As I read through the slush, sometimes I come across manuscripts with concepts I love, then I start reading and realize, with great disappointment, that the manuscript is not ready for publication. More often than not, the troubles are issues with voice and telling rather than showing. As strange as it sounds, it actually makes me angry. It’s so disappointing to be introduced to this amazing idea, only to have the writing fall flat.
However, I do have recourse—the revise and resubmit. I don’t ask for many of these because I’m usually asking the author to make significant changes to their manuscript with no guarantee of publication. I only ask for R & Rs on works that I desperately want to say yes to.
Around a year ago, I received one such manuscript. Loved the concept. Loved it! But the voice needed work and author had created a lot of narrative distance between the reader and the protagonist. I wanted this story to work, but it just needed too much work to bring it up to Rebelight standards. So, I gave the author an R &R. A few months later, the revised manuscript came back to me. With other manuscripts in the queue to be read before his, it took me months to get to it. Finally, I was able to give it a read and, to my delight, it was greatly improved. It was now a manuscript I could wholeheartedly recommend to our editorial director. Upon reading it, she too was excited about it. In the last few weeks, the author was offered a contract. He’s since signed and is officially on his way to his first published book.
Here’s the take home—it took this gentlemen a year of waiting, then revising, then waiting again to achieve publishing contract. And he will have to wait again because the book won’t be published before fall of 2018. I don’t know how long it took him to write and revise the work before he sent it to us, but it will have been over two and a half years of process before he holds his book in his hands.
I had a similar experience for my own work. I wrote my first book five years before I got to flip through its pages. Some may think it’s a ridiculous amount of time. But, I disagree. I think it’s worth it. I’ve learned to persevere and my books are better for the time I’ve taken to make them the best they can be and to find publishers who can take them to the next level.
So, be patient. Think long term. You won’t be sorry.