I often hear from authors who are all in a lather because they have to get their book to literary agents and on sale in bookstores like… right now. Preferably yesterday. Two weeks ago if possible.
This often comes to a head around the holidays, when people are trying to rush to get ahead of some imagined holiday-related publishing shutdown.
As one of my former bosses once told me: there are no emergencies in book publishing.
Sure. Maybe if you have an explosive tell-all about a very timely political topic, it’s worth hurrying. But even those take time.
More often than not, people are worried someone else is going to get to their idea first. Or, in misguided parlance, someone else is going to “steal” it.
Here’s why it’s misguided: there are books with similar worlds and plot ideas published all the time. You’re not going to lose your spot to someone else just because they had an idea before you did.
Ideas are a dime a dozen and sometimes it even helps when your book is similar to someone else’s. Ultimately, execution is what really counts.
There is precious little advantage to trying to rush the process. You’re better off approaching the query process or self-publishing with a completely polished and edited manuscript than you are with a mere good idea you’ve dashed off.
And if you’re thinking of submitting your query around the holidays: go for it. I’d avoid the weeks around Thanksgiving and after New Year’s as you don’t want to be part of someone’s post-vacation to-do list (well, post-vacation in normal times), but you honestly never know when an agent is going to be taking a gander at their slush pile.
Don’t rush. Patient and polished wins the race.
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Turtles by Totoya Hokkei