It’s a plan, sure. But I don’t think it’s a good way to run a business. The accounts receivable are way out of balance with the accounts payable, so to speak. The writer continues to crank out “product” on the merest of hopes that s/he will receive something in return, with only the slimmest of distant reassurances that they should continue.
As I mentioned before, of course one does not sit around waiting. One stays busy, all the while continually honing and improving ones craft. But instead of having one MS (or query) out there for consideration to one agent or publisher at a time, one sends multiple submissions out for each work one completes. I’m hard pressed to think of another industry that insists on exclusivity, for an extended period of time, no less, before anything has been signed or agreed upon. It still baffles me.
It bears mentioning, however, that this condition exists for the most part only with writers who have not broken into the biz, so to speak. Once a writer has secured an agent and a publisher, then the writer is freer to crank up the output without the daunting constraints that those on the outside looking in are faced with. But I keep coming back to the same thing: I don’t understand why this process should take so long. If the writer has no talent, an agent or editor will quickly realize this, and send him down the road. That’s the breaks; adios. If he does have talent, hopefully the agent or editor should be able to spot this quickly also, and get him into the system. Instead, I’m given this impression that agents are horrendously overworked, having to read queries during their evenings and weekends, and that publishers are bursting at the seams, trying to handle the workload they’ve been subjected to, and it’s everything they can do keeping their heads above water, churning out the blockbusters that make them millions so they can afford to take on the occasional new writer who they hope will at least show a profit. I feel a little like a cop being told a story that doesn’t quite have that ring of truth: my nose tells me something’s not quite right.
You know, it occurs to me that I should probably just shut up about this whole topic. I don’t have a thing to submit right now. Not one blessed thing. So I don’t really have a dog in this fight at the moment. I’m about 20-25% of the way through a novel, which will probably take me at least a couple more months to complete. And then I get to revise and rewrite. So with any luck, I won’t be sending out my first queries until around Christmas time. I guess I should save my mental energies for what matters — like completing the next scene — and worry about representation and publishing issues when the time comes.