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Thursday, May 13, 2010

An author's greatest challenge -- patience

Whether you are waiting for Simon & Schuster to finish editing, re-editing, proof-reading, and marketing your novel -- average of 18 months from completed novel to publication -- or whether you have just sent your book out to reviewers and are anxiously anticipating feedback, one of your most important attributes as an author will be tested to its maximum.

Of course, I'm talking about patience.

When are some times you need to exercise EXTREME patience?

-- Right now, I'm finding it hard to be patient enough to finish this post. I've got a number of family and work activities pulling me in multiple directions. So I'll have to wait to finish it until the weekend.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Okay. It's Saturday afternoon and I'm finally back. Wrote the paragraphs above on Thursday. Frustrating to wait to finish. But no good posting something half-done either.

-- Another time you need patience is when you have just "finished" your first manuscript and can't wait to send it out the (email) door to every agent in your genre. Of course, you're excited to get this monumental work of yours to the reading public. And you have a right to be. But slow down. If you really believe you've "finished" your book enough to send out some queries, try sending your query to only a few agents at first -- just to see what reaction you get. Once you've sent your query out to every agent under the sun, it's hard to fix those freshman query mistakes that we all make.

-- If you know that you're going to be self-publishing, and you won't be querying agents, you need to have patience before you publish your book. Believe me . . . it's not ready yet. How do I know? Because no writing is ever truly finished. There are always improvements to be made. Have another friend take a look at your manuscript and ask for their brutally honest opinion. I guarantee that, if your friend is a careful reader, and honest with you, they will find a bunch of things that you will be glad you never published as part of your book. Keep re-reading, editing, and improving your book as often as you can stand, garnering as many helpful opinions as you are able along the way. Then publish it.

-- When you've submitted a query, or even a manuscript, to an agent or publisher, patiently await their reply. In order to avoid wondering of they have received your book (both email and snail mail do have a percentage of failed deliveries), ask for a confirmation of receipt when you send your book off for review. Then if you don't get a confirmation after a reasonable delivery time, send a follow-up note "just to confirm, as mentioned in my earlier email." Otherwise, be patient. It can take months for some agents to respond to queries or partials. And they get hundreds and hundreds of emails a week. Don't clutter your prospective agent's 'In Box' with unnecessary reminders.

I could go on and on about times when patience is truly a virtue in the writing process. So my general advice is . . . the next time you feel an absolute need to do something quickly (unless you're under a deadline), wait at least a couple days; think about what you are about to do and how you plan to do it best. Then wait just a little longer before pulling the trigger.

That's it for today. Thanks for reading.

Please be patient for my next post, I'm still writing and lawyering in addition to this blog. And my wife likes to see me, too.

Enjoy the day.

John

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