Anticipation, anticipa-yay-tion. It’s making me wait.
Carly Simon sang it, then Heinz stole it: “It’s soooo good.”
OK, I’m not waiting for ketchup here. It ain’t all that good.
This is not a job for the impatient. I used to work in high-tech where whole industries sprung up over breakfast, where innovation occurred during a coffee break and tomorrow’s ideas were outdated the day before yesterday.
And now, publishing.
Sure, the industry seems to be transforming rapidly with ebooks, book apps and new social media discovery tools, but manuscripts are pretty much bought the same way they have been for decades (with perhaps the exception of email submissions instead of postal mail). Editors still have to read and evaluate stories, and that requires thoughtful reflection. That takes time. Especially with thousands of them to sort through every week.
Moreover, whole departments must agree upon a manuscript’s merits. It’s not just one editor’s opinion. The entire editorial team, the art department, marketing, sales, publicity, the publisher—all have a say in whether a story fits its list. And besides fitting in—will the book sell? Will it make a profit? Publishing, despite all its artistic ambitions, is a business after all.
You can understand the myriad factors involved in an acquisition, but it doesn’t make waiting on a submission’s fate any easier.
I’m reminded of Schoolhouse Rock’s poor Bill sitting on Capitol Hill. Except his little ditty only lasted as long as a commercial break.
What to do while you wait—weeks, months, maybe even a year? The best remedy is to write something new. Or play Candy Crush.
No, really, write something new. Level 187 is impossible anyway.
For what are we? Are we obsessive email checkers, phone call screeners and mailbox watchers?
Well, yes. Yes we are.
But we are not WAITERS. We are WRITERS.
And writers write.
So get on with it!
And remember, besides “anticipa-yay-tion”, Carly also sang “these are the good old days.” (And she’s the daughter of Simon & Schuster co-founder Richard L. Simon, so maybe she was truly singing about publishing. Not ketchup, Heinz.)