Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Lessons in Patience

If you want to be a writer the first thing you must learn is patience, for you will need it in abundance. Writing is not something that gives instant gratification. Success takes time to arrive, but I can assure you, when it does it will be all the sweeter.

You need to have patience at every stage in the game – and here is why:

1. Learning the craft. This takes time. We are not born writers. It is a skill we assimilate over the years, first through reading and then through taking up a pen ourselves. Take time to learn the craft. Attend workshops, join a writers group or forum, but above all write! The more you write the better you will get. But all this takes time. Don’t rush it.

2. Finding an Agent. The reason this can take a long time is because many people start submitting way too soon. They haven’t got past stage 1 yet – they’re still learning the craft. But even when you are ready, it can still take time. Some agents take months to get through their submissions. They’re busy people. And if you have a full request it will take them a while to read it and come to a decision. It’s all right to prod if months have passed, but don’t be impatient.

3. Getting a book deal. So you’ve been signed by an agent. That means the book deal is just around the corner – doesn’t it? The answer my friends is no. First your agent may ask for revisions. Take your time to get this right, otherwise your MS will only come back to you with more red ink! And then, once you’ve honed your novel out it goes. Do they come back immediately? They might, but more likely not. Some people can be on submission for a year before their book sells.

4. Seeing your book on the shelves: Oh yes – now you’re in for another wait. If your book has sold to one of the big publishing houses with a full schedule ahead you can be looking at 18 months to two years before you see your book on the shelves. Smaller and newer publishers may have faster turnaround, but you’re still likely to be waiting a year or so.

So here’s to patience, and here’s to success.

19 comments:

  1. Very true, and very wise words Kate. I'm something like six months in to stage three, and it's taken me several years to get where I am today, so I know what you're talking about!

    Sure it's not easy, folks, but patience is an essential and priceless commodity.

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    1. Hangn there Joe - stage 4 can't be very far away!

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  2. Great post, Kate! Everything about publishing and the journey to get there takes SO long; you have to be patient, or you'd go crazy!

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    1. I think I went crazy a long time ago ;-)

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  3. This is a very timely post for me! But the waiting paid off...hope it has for you, too!

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    1. Just seen your news! Congratulations! Off to congratulate you again over on your blog! Roll on stage 4!

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  4. Oh so true! Patience is essential.

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    1. Indeed it is, but it pays off in the end!

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  5. Hearing this great advice never gets old. Everyone who writes fiction has a personal learning curve. I swear it's locked into our genetics, and nothing will change that. Hurrying a book before its time is something to be avoided. Then, to that, you must add perseverance, the stamina of a long-distance runner and lastly, a good sized dollop of luck. Kate knows how much that counts in this game. Learning to let it all happen in it's own sweet time, though can drive a writer to drink.

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    1. Well drink is certainly on order for tonight - and if you've seen the announcement over on Litopia or on twitter you'll know why!

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    2. I'll raise a few for your success! And while we're still young! Hooray!

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  6. I'm pretty good at patience - oh, but sometimes the tectonic pace is frustrating!

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    1. But oh, how sweet the taste when that patience pays off!

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  7. It took 15 years from me first putting finger to keyboard to signing my first publishing deal. Patience is definitely required, especially at the submission / auction stage. But as Kate says, once you get there, it's the best feeling in the world and well worth the effort and the wait! :)

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  8. Ha! I just lined up a slightly more visual post on my own blog with the exact same message : D

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    1. Oooh - I love your visuals - can't wait to see it!

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