Welcome back, readers. The NFL season is underway and for once I might have a damn fine fantasy season. (Yes, I have Peyton Manning as my QB. What?!) So, I was watching the football games yesterday--like one does--and I thought, This is an awful lot like publishing.
Time is Wibbly Wobbly
When I was a kid, I didn't appreciate football. Partially because I didn't understand it, but also because I just didn't have any emotional investment in the game. But what always drove me nuts was when an adult would say, "The game's almost over. Look, there's only five minutes left on the clock." Five minutes in football, as you probably know, is not five minutes in real life. Seriously, an hour later the confetti still hasn't fallen and six-year old me is about to pull out her pigtails.
And so it is with publishing. Time is relative in this strange business. Querying agents? Thanks to random chance, schedules, time outs, injuries or overtime, you could be waiting twelve minutes or two weeks for a response. On submission to publishers? See above. And editing is its own animal. Hell, a book can be cocked, locked and ready to rock, but you're still waiting on a schedule before you can see it on shelves.
Fast and Furious
There are fits and bursts of activity in football. Each play is a flurry of bodies and work and tension and will-they-or-won't-they. And then it's over, we reset, we take a time out....wait. Wait. Wait. And then we do it all over again.
This, too, is publishing. Send out your number one quarterback query, maybe call an audible and email that one agent you think is a long shot. Wait...drum your fingers on the desk....then BOOM! You've got a request. Send out the partial! And wait. On submission? You get word that someone's taking it to the acquisition board. Wait, we've iced the kicker and the board ultimately rejected the book. Try again after a time out. Editing? It's the same thing. We get the email with the revision letter and plow through like a running back through a defensive line. Then, that pass is over and we wait some more. Another email and another play--furious writing and working to meet a deadline.
We've all got that dream editor or agent that we want to work with. The author we idolize that we hope will one day be blurbing our books. (Christopher Moore, call me!) We watch trends, follow blogs, make lists and imagine a world where our names are side by side with those of our idols. Like fantasy football, though, sometimes trends are just statistical hiccups. People leave the industry or switch jobs and all of our careful planning crumbles. Our fantasies always cave to reality. (Or, sometimes you draft Peyton Manning.)
Football and publishing are team sports. You are your quarterback, calling the plays and writing the books. You know where you want to go and you've got all the tools in your offense to make that possible. Beta readers are your center, left and right guards. They protect you from yourself and help you use your offense to its best potential. Your agent? She's playing iron man for you as both defense and coach helping you navigate your way down the field without getting sacked. Likewise, your editor is there to whip your offensive line into shape so that your book rockets into the end zone. At the end of the day, you're nothing without your team.
So, as the NFL season ramps up, convention season winds down and Publishing Fridays are a thing of memory, remember that we take the hits of rejection because at the end of the day...we love this shit. We love the game. Write. Enjoy it. And have fun.