Why the Hurry?

A common experience for every literary agent and publisher is having a conversation with an author who would like a book published “as soon as possible.”

Frankly, it is for this purpose the author-services publishing industry was established, because of all the things that characterize traditional publishing, speed is not among them.

Traditional publishers have a certain number of books they want to publish each year, and the schedule fills up quickly.

One editor recently wrote me that they had 90 proposals on their desk to review, mostly from agents and existing relationships. This editor is personally responsible to acquire a dozen or so books per year. Their schedule could easily fill up for years to come. As a matter of fact, a number of academic publishers acquire titles five or more years into the future.

For most books, it takes 18-24 months from signing a contract to publishing it, not because a traditional publisher can’t get a book done quicker, but they already maxed out their capacity.

That’s one side of the equation. Now let’s focus on the author side.

What’s the hurry?

Since agents and publishers view writing as a profession, it would be best if authors defined their work the same way. Few professions think highly of someone in a hurry or reward impatience. Almost always, we skip steps we will regret later on.

Trust me on this one, I’ve done it myself.

Every agent and publisher requires “Platform first, book second.” But most authors attempt to skip the platform step. And platform is not only social media and promotion. It’s all the foundation-building that must be done in order to build a successful publishing career.

Maybe some professional people go through the steps quicker than others; but educators still need to do the academic work, doctors and musicians study and practice. Years may pass in the process.

Successful authors put in the time to learn, practice, write, then write some more, accept criticism, practice more, and write more.

For authors of Christian books, I would suppose the urgency is the message in the book that needs to get out.

What is stopping you from communicating the message of the book?

Do you speak about the topic of your book? Have you written articles? Is the central message of your book part of your life and personal ministry?

Honestly, if the message of your desired book can be covered in a 1,500-word article or thirty-minute talk, why hold it back to appear in a book in two years?

This is why agents want to know what your subsequent titles will be. Agents work with those who desire to communicate through writing over a long period of time through many titles.

But if all you want is to get your book published, there are quicker ways to do that, which don’t test your patience or commitment.

9 Responses to Why the Hurry?

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 20, 2021 at 5:15 am #

    Why the rush, the need for speed
    I feel on every task?
    Simple, friend, I’ve got to heed
    news that I’m fading fast.
    It’s gotten far too hard, now,
    to sit at desk, or stand,
    and I pull the writing plow
    with this Smartphone in my hand.
    It’s not for me, here, to complain
    ’bout this Gethsemane,
    but for this witness to remain,
    it means a lot to me,
    and so please understand my hurry
    before it’s me they come to bury.

  2. Terry Whalin October 20, 2021 at 5:29 am #

    Dan,

    Thanks for the great wisdom and experience in this article for every author. Haste often makes waste from my decades in publishing.

    Terry
    author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition)

  3. Liz October 20, 2021 at 5:34 am #

    I’ve been reading this blog for about a year now and it’s posts like this that make me keep coming back. So much wisdom focused on best practices, and from the side of publishing that writers don’t naturally think of. Thank you!

  4. Ann Westerman October 20, 2021 at 5:59 am #

    Platform !!! should be printed in caps, marked in red, and accompanied with an evil laugh (Bwa-ha-ha) – just say’n.
    blessings,
    ann
    PS Working on the platform-sporadically
    PS jr. Thanks for the tip. I will move it to the top of my list.

  5. Kay DiBianca October 20, 2021 at 7:52 am #

    I have a phrase written at the top of the whiteboard on my desk: “Festina Lente.” It means “make haste slowly” and was used by the Renaissance printer Aldus Manutius as his motto along with the image of a dolphin wrapped around an anchor. That’s the image Doubleday Publishing uses today.

    The way I understand it, the meaning of the phrase is to find the balance between urgency and diligence in order to get work done in the most efficient way. Your post is a great reminder.

  6. Jay Payleitner October 20, 2021 at 9:05 am #

    Hey Dan.
    Why the hurry? Bills to pay. This is not a hobby for me.
    But yeah, sometimes that backfires.
    Keep at it,
    /jay

  7. Marsha E Young October 20, 2021 at 1:15 pm #

    Dan,
    I only discovered your blog a few months ago, but already I have become an appreciative reader of your practical and applicable advice. This one was one of your best, in my opinion. Thank you. Marsha Y.

  8. Kristen Joy Wilks October 20, 2021 at 5:59 pm #

    Yes, I was in much more of a hurry when I started writing seriously twenty years ago. I wanted a book before I had children. Well, my oldest is a senior this year and I found out that it is indeed a slow learning and creating process. But that is OK, I will just work on the next book while waiting to hear back on this one.

  9. Ann Kroeker October 21, 2021 at 5:36 am #

    I reassure the writers in my platform membership group that any platform activity they undertake today—speaking, podcast interviews, guest posts, social media updates—is a chance to help the future readers of their book now. As you’ve said so well in this piece, writers don’t have to wait until the book comes out to begin making a difference in people’s lives. Instead of waiting 18 or 24 months, they can share their message and story today. I’m sharing this article with my group, Dan, because your words confirm that their activities are moving them toward their ultimate goals—hopefully they’ll see the potential and wisdom in “Platform first, book second.”

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