I’ve always loved a deadline. I’m one of those people who thrives on deadlines. I do some of my best work under pressure. When I decided, at the tender age of seventeen, that I was going to be a professional journalist, it was the adrenaline rush of the deadline that made me think I’d love working for a newspaper.
Throughout college I remember putting off twenty-page papers until the night before they were due, then sucking down pots of coffee and working into the wee hours of morning to finish them. Some may have called me a procrastinator, but that was never the case. Back then, during my school days, that’s how I challenged myself.
After college I worked for a magazine for awhile. I was diligent with my deadlines. I’d have everything in on time, my editors were happy, I got paid, and everything went to press in a timely fashion.
I started expecting everyone else to be as punctual with their deadlines as I was with mine.
And that was my downfall.
When my first novel was contracted by a small press, I painstakingly made sure I met every single deadline. I was in constant contact with my editor. I had my marketing materials printed up and ready to go. I set up book signings for the two months after the book’s release and then I waited…and waited… and waited. Needless to say I had to cancel all the book signings because the book wasn’t released until two months after the original release date and here’s why:
It’s not just about the writer getting their edits to the editor by the deadline — but also the editor finishing his work by his deadline, the production department meeting their deadline, the cover designers hitting their deadlines, and finally, the printer meeting their deadline. All of these things play into whether or not a book will come out when it’s supposed to.
So my tidy little life of deadlines was shattered — all because of (in this case) a slow editor and a slow production staff.
At first I figured it had to be an inept publisher. While there were some issues there (that’s another post), I later learned that no publisher was immune.
Yep. With my most recent release one editor quit right in the middle of editing my MS (due to personal issues, not my MS) and a new editor had to step in. That threw the book back a few months. On the last NF indie book my binder had to wait an extra week for the binding material to show up before she could finish binding my order. These things happen – and they happen a lot in the publishing industry. Especially the small press.
Seasoned publishers seem to find a way to throw extra blocks of dead time (where nothing is scheduled) into production time to account for these mishaps to make sure books come out on time. Small press is often ran more haphazard (i.e. books are done when they’re done) and this is probably why we have more instances of production delay than bigger publishers.
The lesson here is despite all the deadlines in the world — sometimes books are delayed.
Of course don’t think any of this means I think deadlines are any less important. Instead, my view of deadlines has changed over the years. I used to see the deadline as this inflexible, solid thing that if you broke it you could kiss your career goodbye. Now I tend to see deadlines as more flexible (within reason) to accommodate life’s mishaps.
I still do my best work under pressure of a deadline. I still strive to meet every single deadline I’m given. I don’t think that will ever change. The only changed thing is my perception. The world doesn’t end with a missed or pushed back deadline – it simply adapts.
About The FM Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour
Today’s post was inspired by the topic Deadlines: Love Them or Hate Them this month’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read their thoughts on deadlines, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. I blog with this tour the 25th of every month. Up next on the tour: Becky Pratt!