Are book deadlines normally agreed between writer/s and publisher or imposed by publisher? And are there any consequences for missing them? Is there a way to negotiate deadlines that is mental health-friendly to the author?
The deadlines are negotiated at contract stage in broad terms, meaning the contract states that the publisher will bring the book to publication in a certain amount of time or will be in breach. The actual deadlines are more of an administrative task that’s usually communicated by the editor. Initial deadlines are agreed on, meaning the writer agrees to turn in the manuscript by a set date and the editor informs the writer about the date of publication.
Breaking deadlines must be avoided at all costs. There are many ways a writer can damage your relationship with the publisher. You can be difficult and unpleasant to work with. You can be resistant to editorial changes. You can refuse to go on tour. You can badmouth the publisher in public. Of all those sins, none are worse than not delivering on time.
Once the book is placed on schedule, there is an entire team of people that’s assigned to deal with it. You have the editor who is the main editorial force, the managing editor who coordinates everything and does editorial passes as well, the copyeditor who corrects inconsistencies and grammatical mistakes, the proofreader who looks over the final manuscript, the text designer, the formatting specialist, the cover artist, the art director, the cover designer, the marketing department, the publicity department… I think that’s everyone. Everybody has blocked out time to work on this book.
You don’t deliver on time, and that entire chain collapses like dominoes. There is a hole in the schedule. Something has to fill it. Some other book has to be rushed through this production gauntlet. Not only that, but your book is pushed back months. Everyone is disappointed. The publisher, the fans, your bank account… If we missed a deadline, you can be confident that a catastrophe of some sort has occurred.
Yesterday Kid 2 found a stray elderly chichi. She’s been running around her neighborhood for weeks, probably months, and yesterday this poor dog tried to walk into someone’s house because she was at the end of her rope. They refused to take her, which I don’t blame them for. It’s a family with small children and a slew of pets, and this dog will need a lot of care. Of course, Kid 2 picked her up and brought her over.
She has an infected eye, infected teeth, an injured paw, ear mites, and fleas. She is emaciated so badly that when you pick her up, you can feel all of her ribs and they are like toothpicks, but her belly is swollen because she has an entire swarm of worms in there. We’ve used up every drop of good will with our vet and managed to get her in this morning even thought they are full. She will need everything, the X-rays, the bloodwork, the works.
My plan today was to not work, because we are all stressed out and worried she might have heart problems. Hard to write witty dialogue when you are wondering if the little pitiful dog is okay. She is panting a lot. Could be anxiety, could be heart trouble, could be something worse. Dog pants are like baby cries. They could mean anything.
Now that I have written this post, I am going to go and work, because I’ve successfully guilt tripped myself. It’s good. Work is good.
As to the deadline negotiations, publishers really hate to lose a book once they’ve paid for it. Most of the time they will wait for the author to turn it in. How long depends on the author. This is the point where sales come into play. If you sell okay and you miss too many deadlines, your contract will not be renewed. If you are GRRM or Patrick Rothfuss, the publisher will literally wait for years because these authors will make them a ton of money. Jim Butcher’s Skin Game, #15 in Dresden files came out in 2014. Peace Talks, #16, was published in 2020. I bet you anything that Ace was thrilled to get it. 🙂
Don’t miss deadlines. It’s bad. And the guilt will gnaw on you for months.
Nora Gomez says
Always appreciate the education. I am super lazy and stress over deadlines so usually end up early…it’s a terrible strategy!
Ooh, deadlines, my nightmares ???????? I hate them, they hate me, but I’m so productive when they are closing on my like vultures ???? But they make my life stressful and are detrimental to my health ????
I hope the dog get better ! Thank you all for taking care of these animals 🙂
Patricia Schlorke says
Poor dog. I hope she gets better.
I may not be an author, but I agree that missing any type of deadline is bad. I know with the work I do, if I miss a deadline (whether self-imposed or by someone else) it can get bad because I have people waiting on me to get reports or summaries done. It gets really bad when you can’t get data from a main data source and have to wait while everyone else is figuring out why the software went splat.
Good luck with your writing. 🙂
Judy Schultheis says
Deadlines are the one part of it that I can recall my author friend actually complaining of. To the best of my knowledge, he’s met every one.
Letitia K says
Blessings to your family for picking up a stray. Please know the BDH has your back on when you finish your incredible work ( I do think you already know it) but… We’re just anxious and bouncing in our seats, or at least I am!
Judy Schultheis says
Personally, I have considerable experience of academic deadlines – my count of grants produced (as the secretary) was 50 before word processors were involved. I could pull miracles out of IBM Selectrics. Once computers were involved, it got worse.
I worked very hard for a good many years to teach the kids who came through my last boss’s lab the one inflexible rule of academia: Never piss off the help. It didn’t always help.
Karen the Griffmom says
Yup. Always treat the gatekeepers with respect and chocolatey, sugary bribes. Soft pets for the pupper.
Patricia Schlorke says
Amen to that.
I also go by this inflexible rule too: never get on a nurse’s bad side since they know what is going on more than the doctor. If you have questions, ask the nurse.
That is indeed a hard, inflexible rule, and not just in academia. I always warned the new, junior engineers to never tick off the janitors or secretaries. You’d be amazed how miserable they can make your lives simply by choosing to do other parts of their job before they do yours.
When you are interviewing for a job, always be pleasant and polite with the receptionist. A lot of hiring managers will ask the receptionist for their impression of the job candidate. Rude people do not get second interviews.
This is the BEST advice! I did hiring for many years for an organization of about 150 people. I always asked our receptionist their thoughts on candidates. Their impressions could make or break a candidate’s chances.
Also as important, never forget that the person you may think is just the help, might be more than that….
I used to be a partner in a company that specialized in IT consulting. I preferred my technical role to advertising just how much authority I actually had, so many people flat out didn’t know I was one of the owners. We had a relatively new employee get into it with a customer & I got called in to smooth things out and got treated like trash for my efforts. Refused to take any of my attempts to resolve the situation which included a credit toward the labor on an installation and other standard smoothing the waters measures. I’m pretty chill but I finally chose to walk out on him rather than blow up at him (would you believe he actually shouted “we aren’t done here!” at my back as I did so). So I sent one of the better known partners who *started* the conversation by pointing out that the customer had treated his partner like trash and proceeded to calmly lay out all the options I had done. The jerk apparently was falling over himself to accept one of them by the time my partner was done.
We did do work for the guy after this, but we never went above and beyond for him again and we always got paid before we did a lick of work. And he had to wait for the single technician who he *hadn’t* pissed off to be available because the rest of us refused to work with him.
Chelley Roberts says
I can’t help but picture the publisher sending a stern faced matron with a thin, whippy switch standing over you and Gordon.
Bless you for taking it that poor pup! There is a special place in hell for people who abandon or abuse animals. This is why your books are so well loved. You have a heart and a soul.
Best wishes, prayers and good will for little chi-chi. Fingers and toes are crossed!
I’m not a dog person… what’s a chichi? Regardless, I hope the pupper is ok- you are angels for taking it on.
Apparently a cross between a Chihuahua and Chinese Crested – small and cute if you like that sort of thing!
Sorry, guys, but chichi is a local area dog slang for a chihuahua or chihuahua cross. It has nothing to do with a Chinese crested, heh.
We are reasonably sure that this girl is a Chi-Pomeranian mix.
I briefly thought it was a creature from Innkeeper.
Emily, that made me choke on my coffee.
Thank you all for being here
Patti in Ohio says
I’m so glad someone else asked. I also thought it sounded like a creature from one of your series and was feeling very ignorant.
I’m so glad she found you and your kid. Thank you for your compassion – and your books
Kelly M. says
Oh, I hope the poor little thing is ok. I hope she has many many days of love and spoiling and living the rest of her life as her best life. I can’t imagine the emotional toll it’s taking on you guys (completely apart from the financial aspect of getting her treatment) – thank you, thank you, thank you for being people who help and not hurt and for raising your kids to do the same.
Kid 2 is a good one!! Poor puppy hope
She does okay!
I had a coder on my team who was specifically hired because they were a PHP coder and I had an agency website that was several versions old and cyber security was screaming at us that the website was vulnerable and needed updating. At most it was a 6 month project at getting it on the cloud. Soooo….. 18 months later what is the status? Yeap, not done. I knew 3 months into the project something was way major wrong. The excuses, well I had to commute. Not my problem, you excepted the job knowing the work conditions. Then came COVID. OK, dude you get to work from home and not come in. Status…not done. We got someone from another team to help this guy. Still not done. Can I fire him yet? Well, I can’t because my contractors have to do it and the dude is saying he has PTSD and they need to understand. Close to two years now, there was a parting of ways, finally. New guy amazing.
Thing is I have seen so many people get hired and float on a contract just like this coder. I have seen people make a career of it. At times this is overlooked but in this case the website was on a priority list from the head of the agency, to my directorate head, to my division chief, to my department chief, to my program manager, to me. The coder didn’t have a clue that all eyes where on this project.
Jim Butcher published the Aeronauts Windlass in that time gap of Dresden. So it was actually late 2015, but he did several other things like graphic novels and such. It was still a very long time between books…
The post above is not a dig at Butcher. It’s simply an illustration that the publisher will wait an unspecified number of years for a commercially successful writer to deliver. 🙂
I always remember Terry Pratchett’s statement: “I love deadlines. They make a wonderful whooshing noise as they to flying by.”
As an instructor, setting deadlines for student work is designed to keep me sane & to have some semblance of a personal & family life during the semester. As an author, I love that my publisher asks when I think the delivery deadline should be, then decides if that sounds reasonable to them based on the projected amount of work left on the ms.
Re: Butcher. I bet that Ace was not as thrilled as I was. I wandered around for 3 or 4 years muttering “Jim Butcher is not my b****” under my breath. (See Gaiman’s excellent blog post on why writers and other artists don’t owe anyone production)
Then you have directorate seniors who have unrealistic aggressive deadlines that they put in their beginning of the year roadmaps. That results in major slippage to the right.
However if your team is working the project and making incremental progress it is OK.
Sorry for the deadline rant.
PS: Hope the new puppy is OK?
Thanks for the info! It’s pretty much as I figured. Another author I like lost her publisher a couple years ago and I think it was a too many missed deadlines thing. She’s reasonably well established, however, so she’s gone to self publishing. I think she’s doing ok with it.
Y’all are good folks to take in the old pup. Which, of course, we already knew. Such a damned shame that someone dumped their oldster. There are other options and I wish people would just look for them. I suppose she might have gotten lost, so I’m trying not to be judgmental, but…. it’s just so common to dump your unwanted pet.
You are an angel for that puppy.Please keep us posted on her progress. Sending energy to her and you
Chris G says
I hope the little dog does okay. Could be expensive–sounds like an opportunity to start a GoFundMe drive.
Cheryl M says
Thank you for saving the poor old pup. I truly hope all is well in the long run. And, my husband did a happy dance when Dresden #16 was released!
Gaëlle from France says
Kid 2 is an angel. She’s such an amazing human being…
Life on the streets is so difficult for dogs, stressful and physically horrible. I can’t imagine the pain this little dog has been through… I’m so happy she’s with you now… Even if the worst is to come, she’s not alone anymore. This is everything…
Deadline, I remember them well from work and the consequences of failing to make the date. I am a procrastinator of the top degree. I am so glad to be retired, no deadlines ever.
I hope the dog does ok, they are so helpless when they are sick. You are such good hearted people.
Top-degree procrastinator here too! Unfortunately, about 25 years left until retirement. Did you find something that works?
cheryl z says
Poor little dog, I hope she just needs love, care and good nutrition after initial treatment. It’s odd, how quickly a dog becomes a beloved family member. My best friend has a chihuahua mix found in the hillsides, starving with bite marks who has since thrived and is an amazing, loving little being. Whatever happens, you followed rule #3.
Big Mike says
I’d like to send money by buying another of your books, but I already have them all. Perhaps you and Kid #2 could set up a GoFundMe page so we of the BDH could help defray to costs of saving various animals’ lives?
Moderator R says
Thank you so much for loving the books, House A will not be doing a funding project at this time ????
That little dog is so lucky it ran into Kid2, who has you guys for a support system.
barbie doll says
We had a dog like that. It was quite small and the Vet said it would maybe be the size of a cocker spaniel. Turns out it was a Newfoundland in disguise. Lived with us for many years. Used to successfully hunt moles. It could imitate a lump of dirt.
Amy McDonald says
Thank you again for the insight of what authors have to go though. I find it interesting as when I was younger I wanted to become a writer, buy I never had the courage,to go though with it. I’m glad the little pup found you, I hope all goes well. No matter what you are a life saver to the little pup. As for dead lines and missing them, I would think fan base might help a publisher decide how long they will wait on a book. Jim Butcher is a great example, his fan base is huge so waiting on him for a new book, they know the book will sell big once they finally get it
I know another author who has issues with their personal life, it has been a few years with no new books. Now that author is back again with same publisher with new books coming soon. Again huge fan base there. I’m just assuming here ???? but anyway you guys have a huge fan base as well, I see you on the same level as Jim Butcher honesty, so I’m sure if you missed a deadline you would still be fine. But let’s hope that never happens as that would mean the BDH would have no new book to feed the frenzy ????
To be fair, I think Butcher warned them in advance that Peace Talks was going to be a while. Ditto with Rothfuss. Like, I’m sure the publishers weren’t/aren’t HAPPY exactly, but a surprise missed deadline is surely far worse.
20 years and we’re still waiting for Captal’s Tower Melanie Rawn, come on please.
I thought I was the only person still waiting for that book !
Fingers crossed for the dog! Your daughter is amazing. I finalized the paperwork yesterday morning for a dog I just foster failed. She has been waiting on final health clearance, and she got it on Tuesday night. Now she’s officially officially mine, forever and ever.
Today I pulled up a few dates I wanted to record so I don’t forget: adoption date, date she arrived to my house, the fish time I saw her picture (mid family health issue, so I didn’t commit to foster her), and the heartbreaker: the post that said she was on the euthanasia list, with a picture of her looking wild and terrified and skinny. If she didn’t have a committed foster by end of day, she would be gone the next. Happy New Year. Even knowing that right now she is outside watching squirrels and soaking up sunshine, looking at or talking about that post gives me anxiety. So many good dogs wind up on the wrong end of that fate; every dog saved us a victory!
Happy (almost) Gotcha Day!
Not a dig at anyone. But I remember an author writing 2 books into a series and then a lapse of several years. I got the third book in the series and never finished the book or any others in that series. My life had moved on and I just did not enjoy that series any more. They were pretty active as an author those years and it was before the age of the internet, so more than likely not enough interest by the publisher at that time. Or the author was just very busy and not enough time for a fringe project.
Thank you so much for taking in the little stray dog. Bless your hearts. Know that it is a lot of trouble, stress, work and money, but whatever the outcome, love that you are doing it. So glad that there are people like you in the world. It gives us hope.
Blue Eyes says
Good luck with the dog. I have to believe that good deeds will be rewarded.
I have read several books where I felt the writer slammed into the deadline and finished the book in a rush. The last few chapters had too much info pushed in, didn’t feel natural and I could “feel” the hurry. How difficult that must be.
Poor sweet doggie. If she can’t be helped at least she’ll experience care and attention and love in her last days.
Sad thing is the 2nd book of Patrick rothfuss and my sons age is the same. I just hope the final book comes out before he graduates highschool.
Krystine Watson says
I love that your family has a bleeding heart for animals, my dad was the same way and I am the same way. I hope the little chichi is ok and gets to spend her remaining time comfy in a loving home. ❤️
How’s the chichi?? It’s eating at my mind. This little creature is so lucky your kid was there, and that you and Gordon are magnificent human beings. I love you.
We know nothing, John Snow, and I am very reluctant to bug them because they took her in as a favor.
Cheryl z says
For those not on a first name basis with your veterinarian, those types of favors occur because a) the humans are nice and b) because the humans have spent enough money to fund the veterinarian’s kids college funds.
Many soft pats to the peppers. I really hope everything is fixable or manageable.
Deadlines – I guess I really should get to work now.
Sheridan Skinner says
God bless you for taking in that enderly dog! Hope it will be ok. Good luck with your own deadlines. We, the BDH, will wait for however long it takes even though we are quietly desperate for the next book to come out.
As always, I enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look. Sending good thoughts to the little chichi, please keep us updated on her!
Bless you and Kid 2. Hope the little one does OK
Barbara Erwin says
Oh I’m a sucker for homeless dogs. That’s all I’ve ever had except for my first two when I was a child. I’ll bet if you set up a fund quite a few of us would be glad to donate.
Moderator R says
Hey Barbara, thank you so much for giving love to homeless puppets ????. House A will not be doing a funding project ????.
Prayers for the little dog. You are so good to take care of it.
We’ve been waiting since 2011 for book three of Kingkiller’s Chronicles Patrick Rothfuss!! And Jim Butcher’s Cinder Spires…argh!!
Donna A says
I cannot imagine what I would do if we had abandoned dogs wandering around and I saw them.
There are some semi-feral cats and of course squirrels, birds and a couple foxes which I feed (the fox feeding causes considerable argument between one brother and I, my argument being we’re pushing London into their land so we can’t blame them when they adapt really well and kill his garden cushions to hilarious effect on his security camera 😉
I guess at least we’ve got lots of animal charities around (I even live across the river from Battersea Dogs Home), but the pandemic has seen both a rise in new owners and abandoned dogs and dog theft. The times are crazy but we have a responsibility to our pets and dependent animals to care for them which at a minimum should require rehoming and not just reckless abandonment.
Katie R says
You are very kind to take in that poor dog. No matter what happens, she couldn’t have landed in a better place.
I always wondered who picks the narrator on an audiobook.
Would you be willing to share what sort of things constitute editorial changes? I’ve been interested in the book business my whole life, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a successful author. I am a beta reader for a couple of authors, but I’d love to be able to do more.
I am happy that the poor pup found your family. My family always had a houseful of animals. My children seemed to be magnets for lost, abandoned, and injured animals. Some people seem to think that a farm is the perfect place to dump pets. Injured animals were drawn to my daughter. I hope that the vet bill is small and the chi/pom heals well and quickly.
Laura Martinez says
OMG. poor little thing. Please keep us posted.
And yes, deadlines are all.
Bill from nj says
You guys are amazingly good hearted, that poor dog makes my heart hurt. At the very least having someone care about them,whatever the prognosis,will give the poor thing some love and caring. D2 is a special person ( as I am sure D1 is), you should be proud she has a big heart; then again w crazy parents willing to try and save the life of a dog most sadly look at like it is trash, not surprised,she caught compassion from you and Gordon:) We are like that, when we were young and poor we saved the life of a pregnant street cat that miscarried and developed peritonitis, ended up spending what little we had to save her. We were rewarded when I brought her home from the vet, opened the carrier,and were rewarded w a cat look that said ‘ what,you want a medal or somethng’ , and went off to eat *lol*.
Bill from nj says
In terms of missed deadlines and books, can you imagine George RR Martin’s publisher w Game of Thrones?
Maria Schneider says
Thank you for your mercy concerning the dog. We are in rural NM and there are too many “drop offs, let them survive in the wild.” Which they cannot and do not. No matter what happens, the pup will feel cared for and will get food. Sometimes that is all you can offer, but it will be enough and more than the pup had.
Hope the ChiChi will be fine. She was very lucky to have run across Kid 2 after having been dumped on the streets for so long.
Another problem with missing manuscript delivery is the current printing market in the US. Demand is high and there’s not enough printing capacity, so we in the production department (coordinating with editorial, art, etc) preschedule books and hold press time for them. When a book runs so late, it’s very difficult to move it to another time in the printer’s schedule because it’s already booked up. I speak to traditional offset printing, not digital on-demand printing though.
It’s good that your vet knows you well and when the vet knows exactly what that dog needs, you’ll be notified. My vet also knows me well from the cat rescues I have done, and I get that, too. But no matter what happens with that dog, it will be safe and secure and fed and watered and patted with love from now forward, and that’s what counts. If it’s too sick to go on, at least it will get an easy “out” from the vet and not suffer anymore. Congratulations on raising your children to understand the value of the lives of animals and to care about them so much.
I do hope you can meet your deadlines as they approach. I have chomped through the bit, waiting for Ruby Fever. I know you cannot rush perfection, but I keep hoping it will hurry up and be released. I just wish it would be easier for you to write. Many good wishes coming your way from here.
Carol Poulsen says
You are such good people !!!
Poor pup. That reminds me of adopting my ginger girls.
I had returned from my sister’s funeral, to the news my cat of 21 years was at the point of no return. And so the next day we took her in to be with her as we said our goodbyes.
The house was just so… miserable and dark, and psychologically so much was on last days of bother my sister, and my cat.
I realized then, that when I was stressed my coping mechanism had been cat time. Playing with kitty, petting kitty snuggles with kitty.
After a while, the family and I decided we wanted to find two new cats to offer a forever home.
Clear the Shelters was right around the corner so we went looking. (I think it’s this weekend this year!). Took 9 shelters before I found our duo. I just wanted a bonded pair, any age from kitten to senior.
In the first month they had 27 appointments between them with the vet: fleas worms, kennel cough needing daily nebulization treatments (one week for one cat, the next weekyhe other hot sick with it). We nearly lost the one she was so sick. I sat with her in the bathroom, shower running to steam the room hoping it’d help her as I held her wrapped in a towel on my lap, rubbing her ears. Luckily she pulled through, and they just had their 6 year adoption anniversary. ♡
It’s hard when animals are hurting, whether you’ve had them for a lifetime, or you’ve just met. I hope the poor dog feels better soon.
Whoops meant to post the image with my comments
Kristan Paige Hall says
Jim Butcher is my second favorite author. His Codex Alera series is the awesome sauce.
Y’all are doggy angels ❤️
Send us pictures from the chichi please. What is a chichi?
Moderator R says
It is a Chihuahua mixed breed dog ????
Interesting info! On authors I’m most disappointed by though…. Patrick Rothfuss ugh. I wish I never read any of his books sadly. Why market a series as completed and then not have it done?
That chichi is undoubtedly very happy to have a warm home and good food with people who care. And while every one of us in the BDH wants it to recover and live a long life with you, you will be doing what we Jewish people call a mitzvah whether the chichi lives 2 weeks or 2 years, because now it is safe, vetted, fed, and loved. I have worked with dog rescue and that’s no small thing. You are good people.
Of course I am one of those who have been waiting for George RR Martin and Patrick Rothfuss to finally, finally deliver their books haha. I don’t even know if I’ll still buy those books because it’s been that long.
I waited for Jim Butcher’s Peace Talks and that took so long that I’ve forgotten a lot of the characters and storylines already.
I’m so happy you guys are fairly prolific when it comes to the book releases.
I waited so long for Stephen King’s Dark Tower books I think I went to college, got married, had a kid and forgot what I was waiting for…????
A different Roland!
Bill Waterson, who does the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, says that the monster drooling under Calvin’s bed showed up in his subconscious and represents his printing deadline. It’s this scary overwhelming thing that you know is there, but no one else can see.
And bless you for taking the dog. Dogs are people. When you help when it blesses you forever. Compassion is a act with lasting substance in the universe.
Terry Schuster says
Not only are you all the most excellent authors but you should receive knighthood for trying to save the chichi. The world would be a sadder place without you and your family in it.
We have ALL heard these descriptives
most of us have used them of our selves, close mind meld associates, admired comebacks quiptsters < there may be no such word.
Probllama Probllama Probllama
I of IA just liked saying it, so around she walked, after her x-stitching
Probllama Probllama Probllama
After reading today’s post on the chi & hopping to mi browser to see how she looked, feeling good l popped back to my inbox where, what to my wondering eyes did appear,
Two posts back . . . but
Probllama ???? . . . Yes, I am not a well person, I freely admit that sick & twisted could apply without any
U know it took me all this time, even after the visual to get that oh well no Probllama ???? ???? ????
I read the update about the Chihuahua, I just want to tell you, you have a great heart! Any human being that can be so considerate with a dog is a great human being, you and your family members and all the people who helped Lola are great human beings.
A hug and my best wishes ♥️
Anybody know how one becomes a copyeditor or proofreader? Cuz it pretty much sounds like one of those “get paid to do what you love” jobs for me. Hell, sometimes I do it for free in my kindle notes, just for the fun of it! ????
Also, extra love to House Andrews for taking in the stray Chihuahua. Stories like that help renew my faith in humanity ????
Moderator R says
This might help ???? https://ilona-andrews.com/2019/audio-hips-and-other-things/