A lot of writing has to do with writing. Get the words on the page. Get the story finished. Revise, revise, revise.
A lot of publishing has to do with waiting.
Many of my author friends lament how long it takes to reach the next step. How long it takes to finish the book. How long it takes to revise the book. How long it takes to get feedback, to revise again, to get more feedback, to query. Every step of the way, even when you’re writing daily, takes times. And sometimes, it seems like waiting is the curse of the publishing life.
But sometimes, it’s a huge blessing.
I attended my first writing conference a little under four years ago. I’d written a book. I believed it was good enough. So I went to the conference with the intent of meeting a publisher. (You can read about my thoughts on conferences here.) Obviously, my first book wasn’t publishable. I knew it by the end of that day. So I wrote another book. It took a year to write and revise. I pitched it to that same publisher and had a conversation with another publisher. They both requested fulls. And then I waited. But not idly. I started–and finished–another book.
By the beginning of the new year, I had an offer. But it didn’t seem right. It wasn’t my dream. So I turned it down only to have the other publisher say they weren’t going to pick up the manuscript that year, but to resubmit it the next year if it hadn’t sold. Which I did. But in the meantime, I worked on my third book, polished it, and had agents request fulls. Which was fantastic, only it was in a completely different genre.
I never sent those fulls. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to have an agent, to pick a genre, to publish. I wrote another book in the same genre as my first two. During the summer I resubmitted my second book to the publisher. This time, things were looking really good, but there was a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for the readers, waiting for the next meeting, and the next after that. So I wrote another book, this time for NaNo and in a genre different than the other two.
It was during NaNo that I got an agent. And I finally felt ready. Ready to commit. Ready to move forward.
In a few weeks I’ll hear about a publishing offer–with a hopeful contract attached to the email. And I finally feel ready. Ready to deal with the stresses of publishing, writing, editing, reviews, and all the other things. I know I can write. I know I can write more than a few books.
I’m so glad I didn’t publish with my first offer. I’m so glad I was turned down. I’m so glad for the waiting game of publishing. While this isn’t the path most people take and even fewer dream of, my path has become my dream.