“bereavement” days and then I’d have had to return to work. That’s how I considered myself—a selfemployed writer with a tough boss. The work became an escape, and the book was completed on time. I’ve had “life intrusions” that have kept me from finishing a book on time…but I always aim for completion on time.
Gina: I have been under contract for all of these events. To the best of my ability, I have tried to meet my deadlines. I’ve overestimated my abilities a few times, but I’ve managed to deliver fairly reliably through the challenges, so my agent and editors know I will do my best to uphold my obligations. I think it was Sidney Sheldon (but I can’t find it to confirm) who said, “Does a plumber have to be in the mood to plumb?” Writing is my job. I can’t just quit whenever life gets complicated.
Laura: Yes, and yes...and I was my own worst enemy in this. I’d never missed a deadline. By gritting my teeth and forcing myself to work through the pain, no matter what, I made the damage to my body worse, especially to my hands, which have never completely recovered.
Dianne: My book was due two months to the day after my surgery. Getting my book in on time is always important because I value my relationship with my publisher. While part of me believed I was some sort of superwoman who could bounce back at super human speed, the former critical care nurse in me was forced to get practical and anticipate the problems that could arise.
Sharon: I had just signed a four-book contract the week before my son’s death, and my first synopsis was due during the time I’d be in Chicago for my son’s services. It was already sent to my agent. I’d agreed to a contract, and I honor my professional commitments. I expected to do so this time, also.
Did you notify your editor/agent that an unavoidable complication had arisen that might impact the publication schedule? If so, what were the ramifications?
Kasey: I told them only if I thought I was not going to make the deadline. Otherwise, I just kept working/keep working. I tell my agent if I must, but mostly I keep my personal life private. My editor and agent don’t tell me their problems or say they can’t do their job because of personal problems. They’re professionals, and so are we.
Gina: I have stayed in close contact with my agent who has kept my editors informed when potential delays arose. I have never met with anything but generous support from my editors at Harlequin.
Laura: I did notify my editor when it became clear that I couldn’t meet my deadline. She was understanding and encouraging, but I still lost my slot in the publication schedule. Shortly after I delivered the rewrites, the line closed. I never managed to place that book elsewhere, though I still hope to resurrect the story in some form.
Dianne: I gave some thought to not telling my editor, but denial is the first stage of grief. Practicality took over, and I knew I needed to focus on what was ahead of me, including some pretty serious down time where, while my heart might be about the writing, I was pretty sure my physical self would not agree. I told my Mills & Boon editors as soon as I knew my surgery schedule. I asked for a two-month extension, and they gave it to me, but also let me know I could take as much time as I needed.
Sharon: My husband helped me compose an email to my agent after we heard of my son’s passing, notifying her of what had happened, asking her to notify my editor and to forward my completed proposal to my editor so I didn’t miss my deadline. She assured me she would do so. Two weeks after returning home from the funeral I learned my editor had never received my proposal, which was now two weeks late. I felt my agent should have confirmed delivery, but since she did not, I was unduly stressed over something that should have never happened.
My long-time editor called soon afterward to say she’d received the proposal I’d sent and approved it, but she was going to push all my deadlines off by several months. Now I realize my editor and publisher were giving me time to grieve and heal when I didn’t even realize I needed that time.
How do you decide whether/when to tell your editor/agent?
Kasey: I will tell them only if I can see, nope, ain’t going to make it this time. Then I do it in enough time for the editor to perhaps give me a new deadline while she takes care of projects from other writers, knowing that my project will be there, but not when first anticipated.