Hurry Up And Wait

That’s what they say in the army, but it applies to publishing as well.  It’s the idea that you, the writer (or the soldier), have to do everything you’re supposed to by yesterday at the very latest, while your officers (or your publishing company) get to take as long as necessary (or as long as they want) to do what they’re supposed to. 

For example, I handed in the final book in the Stoneways Trilogy at the end of February.  Surprise, surprise, my editor (whom I love) just told me last Thursday he’d started reading the book.  Now that he’s started, he’ll probably be done by the middle of next week, and after that we’ll go over his suggested changes. 

Three months is a long time to read a 450 page book, but in the publishing industry it’s actually pretty good.   I know of some authors who’ve had to wait more than a year for an editor’s suggestions.  Which is one of the reasons why, whether you’re published or not, you need to always go on immediately to the next project as you finish something, whether you’ve got that project sold or not. 

It’s that way through the whole process.  I’m supposed to go on vacation with my family next week and, given my editor’s timing, I’m sure the book’s revisions will be due the day I get back.  I’ll send them off, and then another three months will pass before the copyedit shows up on my doorstep.  Accompanied, no doubt, by a letter telling me I have a week to get them back. 

And so on.  I’m actually one of the lucky ones.  It only took three months.

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  1. 1. Zora

    The entire publishing process is an alternation between hurry-up-and-wait and panic-stricken hurry. Each project involves author(s) and freelancers outside the direct control of the publisher. The publisher is juggling multiple projects. One delay (sometimes unavoidable) can derail everything.

    I suppose I can now say “I’m a copyeditor” having copyedited two cookbooks, and working on a third. I get whiplashed between lull and hurry too. “The author is coming into the office on Thursday, so we MUST have the copyedited manuscript by then.” Yassuh. Then no work for weeks.

    Three months for a copyedit? They give me two weeks :)

  2. 2. S.C. Butler

    Three months for a regular edit – I’m waiting for my editor’s comments. I can’t imagine Tor copyeditors get any more than two weeks either.

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.

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