I'm sharing this because some folk seem to think writers dash off a first draft, seek an agent and then wait for the money to roll in.
Over on the Voyager forums someone asked an innocent-sounding question which turned into a bit of a confessional. Quite a few HarperCollins Voyager authors post on the board, so it was interesting to hear their responses.
The question? Something along the lines of "I wonder who took the longest from manuscript finish to publication?"
Karen Miller, author of the Kingmaker/Kingbreaker duology: approx 15 years.
Glenda Larke, The Aware: 14 years (1989-2003) and Heart of Mirage: 16 years (1991-2006)
Russell Kirkpatrick: Across The Face Of the World: 20 years (1985 - 2004), In the Earth Abides the Flame: 19 years (1994-2004), The Right Hand of God: 3 years (2003-2005)
That's just a selection, but you can see that 10-15 years is much more likely than one or two.
And just for reference: Hal Spacejock: 12 years (1994-2005, although I didn't finish the first draft until 1999), Hal Spacejock Second Course: 2002-2006, Hal Spacejock Just Desserts 2003-2007.
I can't speak for the other authors, but my own books have undergone countless rewrites, drafts and polishes during that time. In other words, I wasn't just sitting around for 12 years waiting for a publisher to throw money at me.
So, it takes years to get into print. Big surprise. But what can you do with that information?
First, you should have a long term view, because the publishing industry will still be there when your manuscript is ready.
Second, it doesn't matter whether they publish your first, third or fifth novel. Once in print they'll want to see your trunked manuscripts, so all that effort wasn't wasted. And with your added experience you'll be able to spot the flaws in those unpublished works.
Want to know how I did it? I decided to write fifteen novels in the Hal Spacejock series ... one per year until I hit fifteen. If I still wasn't published by then, I'd give up.
How many novels are you planning to write?
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)