aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

August is the cruelest month

"April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain." - TS Elliot.

In the publishing world, August seems like a cruel month. If you're waiting for word from an agent or editor, you may be waiting a long time. Editors and agents are getting their vacations in before things pick back up after Labor Day. During the summer, they all take Friday afternoons off anyway, often the whole Friday. If they have country houses, they spend long weekends there. New York is too hot and humid in the summer - people don't even seem to go to business lunches during the month of August.

And publishing is a seasonal business. Editors have spring and fall lists. Those books have to be ready for sales conference. So they have busier periods and slower periods.

But even when it's not summer, there seem to be lots of dead times. Thanksgiving. Pretty much the whole month of December. When those sales conferences are happening, editors are gone too, and often during Book Expo America, the American Library Association's annual meeting, the festivals in Frankfurt or Bologna (for foreign rights), etc.

And then if you are on pins and needles about movie rights, you'll find there are other weeks when people just aren't available. Like during all the film festivals - Toronto, Tribecca, Sundance, Cannes.

I learned that, just like editors and agents, studio heads are usually too busy to read during the week and probably read only on the weekend. And that studios have big story meetings on Monday to discuss what they've read over the weekend, and that decisions were made that day or the next. At the beginning of the week, I would wait anxiously for "the call." By the end of the week, I would be shrugging my shoulders, but already tensing up for the following week.

And then there are the problems with touring. Tour in the summer, at least in Oregon, and you'll get very few butts in the chairs. Snow can scuttle many a signing, at least in cities that don't get much. I remember a signing in Seattle when I was on tour in 2001. It was me, 100 chairs, the coordinator, a lady who had missed her bus, and outside 4 inches of snow on the ground. The best times for signings are kind of crappy weather, but not so crappy that no one wants to drive in it.

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