by Tamela Hancock Murray
Your agent may slow you down.
And this is good!
And, why is that?
I’ve been a writer myself, so I understand the frustration you must be feeling as you read my words. Who wants to slow down? Believe me, when I was waiting for my first book to be published, I only half-joked that it would be released posthumously. So I understand that writers don’t want to wait another ten minutes to see their books published. But those ten minutes — or more — are worth the wait.
Craft takes time. That’s why I tell my clients, “Take the time you need. Submit when, and only when, you are ready.”
Sometimes writers feel a sense of an artificial deadline. Perhaps an editor has put out a call for a certain type of book. Or a key editor will be judging a contest. Or a promising conference meeting has just occurred. So let’s hurry!
No, let’s not hurry.
Here are a few of my reasons why:
1.) The need for a well-crafted story will always exist. True, if you tarry, you may miss a “deadline” for an editor’s general call out for a story featuring two faeries falling in love but first they must save the unicorn trapped by the evil witch before they can marry. But if you are writing a story just to fill a niche, chances are that — dare I call it “desperation” — will show. Unless you are already the queen of faerie stories, chances are the editor will choose from among the other 1,648,489 stories she received since put out her notice all over the Internet. Better for you to craft a story you really love and eventually become known for that genre than to be stuck with a brand you can barely tolerate for the foreseeable future — all because in your haste, you responded to a cattle call.
2.) A contest is only one way to get an editor’s attention. True, if the editor judges your entry and asks to see it, that’s great. Remember, these are two really, really big IFs. First, the entry has to make it to the round your coveted editor judges, and then he has to make an effort ask to see your work as a result of reading the entry. These two events do not always happen, even for wonderful stories. So why hurry with a half-baked entry, going to the trouble and expense of entering a contest, only to be subjected to what may be harsh criticism because the first round judges didn’t like the entry? Better to wait until you are truly ready for the contest. Besides, your agent doesn’t need to wait for a contest. She can submit your work any time.
3.) The editor or agent will not forget that she went to a conference. True, you want to show that you are a hard worker and motivated to get your career moving. However, editors and agents know that proposals will trickle in anywhere from twenty minutes after the meeting occurred (Seriously!) to a year later. I’ve even had writers submit to me a couple of years later, for good reason. I’m fine with that. Why? Because I am always happy to review a well-crafted, marketable story.
How many books do you want to write in any given year?
How many words do you try to write in a day?
Do you have any tips or tricks you would like to share with other authors who are working to craft a great book?