I would not normally say I am a patient person.
I tend to want what I want when I want it, whether it’s chocolate, a certain pair of shoes or to get the whole family out of the house and into the car so — for once — we can get where we’re headed and not be late.
But I am capable of working diligently toward a goal for a long time knowing that it may take me a while to get there. When I was in middle school, a church youth group leader said I was tenacious and I’ve always held on to that word because I knew it was true.
I rarely give up.
So when I decided it was time to start pursuing my lifelong dream of being a children’s author, I got busy. Reading. Learning. Writing. Revising. Again and again and again.
And that’s when I learned the important of patience. Publishing is a wonderful industry that I am thrilled to be a part of. But it can move at a glacial pace. And impatient people who live and die with every wait and delay can drive themselves, and those around them, crazy.
Why doesn’t my general impatience spill over into publishing?
Initially, I wasn’t sure. But, as they say in the NFL, upon further review, I came up with these reasons:
1. Clearly defined roles. Everybody involved in creating and publishing a book has a job to do. Mine is to write the best book I can, respond positively, professionally and promptly to suggested changes from my editor and share my opinion when asked. So I focus on what I can control. Then, once I’ve done my work and the text is final, the book moves on to the next stages in the process. Those stages are handled by people who are experts in their field and know what they’re doing far more than I do. Which leads to …
2. Trust. I have great faith in the people who work on children’s books. People in this industry love what they do and are committed to putting out books they love so others can love them too. Attend any SCBWI conference and listen to the editors and art directors who speak, and you’ll see this is true. I’ve been amazed at the beautiful things everyone else involved in a book’s advent create. It’s part of a continued focus on …
3. Quality. Good things take time. Just like I needed time to get the story in saleable form and then revise to meet the acquiring editor’s vision, illustrators need time to ponder and sketch and rethink and redraw and polish. Art directors need time to think about things like trim size and cover design and all the tiny touches that elevate a book from basic to beautiful. Printers need time to color-correct proofs and bind beautifully. And I am more than willing to wait for all those things to happen.
Plus, there are so many ways to spend the time while you’re waiting to see your final book. You can:
1. Read. You can discover all the cool new releases. In publishing, there’s always something that just came out to read and hold and admire and learn from.
2. Write. You can write your next draft using all the knowledge you gained from your previous project. And since you want it to be the best it can be, that’s going to take some time. (For full details about obsessing over your next book, see Tara Dairman’s recent post!)
3. Plan. You can create a marketing plan for how you’re going to talk about your book once it arrives.
4. Dream. You can go to a library or bookstore and figure out where your book will be shelved. (This is actually much more fun that it might sound.)
And if you have some time left over, you can always indulge your need for immediate gratification by eating some chocolate, buying some impressive shoes or trying, one last time, to get all your family members out the door and in the car by a pre-determined time.
Although if your family is anything like mine, that might take you longer than waiting for your book’s debut.