Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The Waiting Game by Ty Drago
So, without further adieu…here is my favorite editor-in-chief talking about something near and dear to all writer’s hearts…
You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I’ve written a dozen novels, all of which have been submitted to various venues. Of them, so far three have been published and a fourth is currently under consideration. So I know all about the Waiting Game.
It’s a game in which the author has few moves, once the book is out the door. An agent, assuming you have one (assuming it’s not, in fact, an agency to which you’ve just submitted), may havesome options. He or she can nudge or nag, trying to pry out of overworked editors some level of feedback. But the results of such efforts, as far as I’ve seen, are mixed at best.
In the Writing Game, almost all moves are on the publisher’s side of the board.
But as a writer, are you completely helpless? Well, maybe not completely.
When my novel PHOBOS was submitted to Tor Books, we heard nothing for six months. Then eight.Then ten. After that, at my (then) agent’s advice, I travelled to WorldCon to attend Tor’s late night party in their hotel suite. I spent the next four hours in a bathroom with my (then) editor, as he played makeshift bartender, serving up beers and wine coolers that were on ice in the bathtub. Yep … it was that kind of party.
And he knew full well why I was there. In fact, he said so: “Ty’s here because he wants to know if he’s book’s going to be published.”
I didn’t deny it. We both knew I was making a move — one of a writer’s few moves — in the Waiting Game.
Well, PHOBOS was published. I received a contract and then waited an additional fifteen months for the editorial changes to come in. Then I waited another year until the hardcover edition hit the shelves. All in all, from first submission to publication took something over two-and-a-half years.
The Waiting Game taxes us. It costs us sleep. It drives us to stare at our phone or email and hope that this morning, or this afternoon, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next season, we’ll hear something — hopefully something positive. But too often the news, when it finally comes, is otherwise. Often a “no” can take as long as a “yes”. And what you’re left with in the grim aspect of shaking off your disappointment, resetting your pieces on the board, and starting the Waiting Game anew with a different publisher.
We didn’t invent the game. We didn’t draft the rules. We can’t even really play it in any solid, active way. Not really. But we can win it.
Winning the Waiting Game means making a sale.
Unfortunately, such wins are few and far between for most of us, while the game itself goes on. The Winning Game ain’t fast and it ain’t fun. Frankly, just playing it demands a level of bravery that many writers are never able to muster. There’s a peculiar dignity in the act of dropping that manuscript in the mail or pressing the send button on that critical email. Because, without that single act of courage, there can be no Waiting Game.
We may not have a lot of moves.
But the first one is always ours.
Folks, you can find out more about Ty Drago and his work at http://www.tydrago.com/.
As always, thanks for stopping by!