Sunday, September 25, 2022

How To Have Perfect Timing

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Much of the publishing world is outside of our control as writers. Publishers, editors, agents, retailers and readers are just a few of the key decision makers in the publishing process. As someone who writes for a variety of places and works in the community as an acquisitions editor, occasionally I see internal dynamics which will make a decision go against the author instead of in their favor to get published.
Here's a recent example, an author submitted an excellent book which was appropriate for our publishing house. In addition this author was committed to spending a large and explicitly stated amount of money on the promotion of this book. Yet when my colleagues looked at the details, the manuscript was large and in fact when moved into production was going to be over 400 pages. My colleagues asked me to return to the author and see if he would be willing to reduce the book manuscript to something with a higher likelihood greater book sales or possibly split it into two books. When I spoke with the author, he was unwilling to reduce it or split it. This stance became a red flag warning that he was not coachable and would likely be a “difficult” author. Despite the large promotion money, my colleagues decided to pass on publishing this book.
I'm telling you this story for several reasons. Publishers are looking for authors but the right authors and publishers also have experience about what sells and doesn't sell in the marketplace. As a writer, you show them something through your response. In this case the author revealed his lack of flexibility and willingness to learn from the publisher. The publisher made their decision from this interaction.
Because there are many details that can be seen and unseen outside of your control as a writer, how can you have perfect timing? 
1. Be active pitching your ideas and book proposals. Whether it is a guest blog post or podcast or radio show interview or speaking at an event or publishing a book, the author (or their representative) has to be pitching them. You have to be actively pursuing these opportunities because in general they will not come to you through passive activity.
2. Be consistently meeting new people. As writers we need to be constantly expanding our network and connections. As I've often written in these entries, who you know is as important as what you know.  It's one of the reasons I continue to expand my connections on LinkedIN. Last week I spoke with an experienced editor who called me and was referred from another friend. I spoke with this editor and also we connected on LinkedIN.  This editor was looking for either a full-time position or freelance work. I noticed his small number of connections on LinkedIN and encouraged him to expand them.
3. Seize and follow-up, when an opportunity comes across your desk (for anything). You must actively do something.  Your activity and consistency is one of the critical elements for finding and having opportunity.
4.  Learn new aspects and continue to experiment. You must apply what you are learning to your writing life. There are many different paths to success. You can learn from many different sources such as live events, reading books, reading online, taking courses and much more. Be committed to continually learning.
You can't control anyone other than yourself. Take your own responsibility and get out there. Like the author Paul Little said, “God can't steer a parked car.” The timing for many parts of publishing is simply outside of our control. Your consistent action and perserverance will be the difference maker. Many others will give up and yet you continue. Then some day your timing will be perfect.
I'd like to have perfect timing and the only way I've found achieve it is to take consistent action. What insights have you found to have perfect timing? Let me know in the comments below.

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