Book publishing isn’t a quick process. I don’t think there’s another industry like it.
Many years ago, I was a lawyer. It’s not hard to imagine what the response would have been been had I adopted the publishing practice of waiting for months to answer someone’s email request. And then imagine if I subsequently indicated that I would complete the requested work in about 2 years or more.
I’m signing contracts for late 2025 right now which means the next one to come in may very well be for 2026!
The best advice that I was given, after my novel went on submission in 2021, was not to wait. I was told to start on the next project immediately. This was sage advice. Had I sat around, a year and a half + would have gone by yielding little more than increased anxiety. Instead, I have spent my time learning, connecting, and creating.
Every writer has a dream, a benchmark for success and it’s a long road to get there. When you do get there, so I’m told, it moves and is always out of reach. I haven’t given up on novels. I’m slowly slogging through draft 3 of a new manuscript with my agent. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in publishing in the last 2 years it is that I have time. The industry is slow so I can take my time too.
In the meantime, waiting on my novel-dream to materialize and working hard to make it happen, I’ve discovered my absolute love of creating picture books. Everything about picture books makes me happy. Having a silent partner (illustrator) who is able to take my words and make them into something physical is a magical experience. I can’t draw or paint and yet my writing can be translated into a visual art. I love that there are virtually no limits as to what kind of stories a picture book can tell. I love that they speak to everyone, young and old.
I’ve worked in publishing as a magazine features editor, a managing editor, and an editor-in-chief and understand the value of each word on a page. It’s often referred to as real estate and Hong Kongers definitely understand the value of that. There were skills that came naturally to me like working under pressure, cutting text, condensing big ideas into low word counts, and creating catchy titles. There were skills that didn’t come naturally like grammar and punctuation. I learned that I’m good at big picture edits and not great with small ones. I have taken all my strengths and weaknesses into the kidlit world where I hopefully am continuing to improve.
Take time and enjoy the process. Publishing is going to continue to move at its impossibly slow pace. Queries and submissions are going to go unanswered for months. Maybe you will get the response you want in the end and maybe you won’t. Once you put something out there for consideration, celebrate. You took a chance on yourself and that’s farther than most people come.
Now, continue to create while you wait. You have the time and the talent. Your time will come. Some things are worth waiting for.