By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Sunday morning through LinkedIN, I got an email from a writer I met several years ago. She wasn’t ready when we met to submit her work but now she is ready. She was asking if I was still interested in seeing it. I could have waited until tomorrow to answer. Instead I wrote a short response encouraging her to go ahead. A little later, I researched my email and learned I met this author in 2019 at a conference. She wasn’t ready to send her submission back then but is now. It’s a good thing I’ve been doing this acquisitions work for over ten years with the same company. Sometimes my longevity in publishing pays off. As of this writing, she reached out but hasn’t sent anything (which is another key part of the process).
I love my work in publishing–not all of it but most of it. The authors and people who work with me know that I will often answer emails late at night or early in the morning or on the weekends–outside of the normal work hours.
I have other friends and colleagues who create stricter boundaries in this area. They don’t respond to work emails after hours or on the weekends. When others look in at my work, it doesn’t seem like I have any boundaries–but I do. It is rare that I do much work after 5:30 pm. If I have an intense writing deadline, I may write more pages late at night but in general, after 5:30 pm, I stop working for the night. It’s my family time and a solid boundary related to my work.
Some of my quick actions come from my love of the work. Also some emails are easier to go ahead and answer, rather than have them hanging around for an answer. Other times I will draft something, then hold the email in my “draft” folder until later in the day or the next day–just to make sure I’ve written the right details.
As someone who has consistently processed submissions for years, one of the keys is to be organized and keep working at processing the submissions. It is an organization skill which every editor needs to develop. It’s the same skill used to write and finish a book. It happens because you have a word count for the day or the week that you are going to consistently do. These blog articles don’t happen without consistent effort. The lack of response shows me the editor isn’t organized. The longer it takes to get back to the author, I’ve found it less likely the author will be interested in working with you to publish their book. The reverse is also true, the earlier you can process it, the more likely they will come with you.
As a writer, if you aren’t getting responses to your pitches (book or magazine), then maybe you aren’t pitching the right person. A great deal of publishing is tied to something outside of your control–timing. I encourage each of you to keep expanding your connections in the market and keep pitching to finally connect with the right person to publish your work. It’s not an easy process but takes consistent work for it to happen.
What boundaries have you set in your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.