Hollywood writers don’t quite understand this. During the Great Writers Strike a few years ago, my agent was inundated with novel proposals from Hollywood scriptwriters who were convinced that they could write books to tide themselves over until the strike ended. My agent gently explained to them that even if the proposal was salable, it would be nine months to a year before the writer saw any money.
“A year?” yelped one of the Hollywoods.
“It’ll take three or four months to get your proposal read,” my agent explained. “Then, assuming the editor wants to buy it, it’ll be another two to four months for it to work its way through the chain of people who need to put their stamp of approval on it, and another month or two for accounting to issue the check. At any point along the way, someone could go on vacation or on leave or forget about it or lose the paperwork, which will cause a delay of anything from two to four weeks while we unsnarl the problem. So nine months to a year isn’t at all uncommon. By then, the writers strike will probably be over.”
So yeah, we wait.
We wait for a response from agents. We wait for a response from editors. We wait for a response from marketing. We wait for a response from accounting. We wait for a response from legal. It’s the antithesis of Hollywood, where things move, move, MOVE!
Right now I’m waiting for a response on a rewrite from my editor. Another writer I know is waiting for a rewrite response from her editor. Yet another writer I know is waiting for an initial response from submissions editors.
It takes a while, we know. It takes a day or three just to read a full manuscript, especially with interruptions, and to edit takes longer. And meanwhile we’re working on other things.
But we do wish publishing could borrow a page from Hollywood now and then and speed things up.
–Steven Harper Piziks
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