In a word: revisions.
Laurell K Hamilton once tweeted that a book isn’t done until its on the shelf. I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time.
I have a book currently on submission to several publishing houses. My incredible agent Jo and I spent months getting the book ‘submission ready’ then she sent it out. And I waited. And waited and waited. My fingernails were bitten to the nub, my diet went out the window. Finally I started another WIP just to get my mind off the book that was ‘out there’. After about 6 weeks, Jo and I sat down (over the phone) and went through all the feedback she had received.
This is where my naivete about the publishing business became evident. I assumed that an editor would read the book, like or not like it, and that would be the end of it. In some cases, it was. But for more than one, revisions were requested.
Revisions? But didn’t I already do revisions? And did that mean the editors wanted the book after the revisions were done, or that they would simply ‘think about it’ some more? Fortunately, my agent is as incredible an editor as she is an agent. She explained that the role of the editor has shifted in recent years, as has the role of agent. Editors can now request revisions and edits without actually commiting to a work or author.
Jo put together an edit sheet including the various requested revisions. Then we discussed further how we both thought we should go forward. Ultimately, I agreed that the edit points were good ones and went ahead with the revisions. In the end, I really think my mss is stronger than ever.
So now I’m back to the waiting game. New submissions, revisions done, and a better respect for the importance of an awesome agent! Thank you Jo! And I’ll just start wearing fake nails from now on:)