Friday, June 25, 2010

Growing Trees and Publishing Books: Which Takes Longer?


Last week at a conference, Christopher Robbins from Gibbs Smith Publishing said something that I thought—at first—could be true. However, after thinking about it for a few days, I think I might have to respectfully disagree.

Christopher said something along the lines of, “It takes longer to grow a tree than to publish a book.”

Well. Okay. That is possibly true for a pine or an oak, and if you’re comparing to a short book that was written in a flash. Maybe. Or maybe not.

It all depends on the book, the author, and the kind of tree.

For instance, I started writing (secretly) right about the time my family and I moved into our current house. Since we built this house, when we got here we had zero yard. Nada. Zilch. In fact, our first major purchase—after the house—was several truckloads of dirt. Dirt, people! (Let’s not get me started discussing why anyone should have to pay for dirt.)

After the dirt, we proceeded (slowly) to plant several baby-sized trees, some grass, and other various plants.

I’ll give it that most of our trees started as actual trees—probably a year or two old. Let’s say two. We have lived in this house for six years, and I’ve been writing for that many years. In the past six months, I’ve had two books published. Books of the shorter, smaller-market variety.

Now, let’s discuss my apple tree. If it was two years old when we planted it, and it started producing apples (more than two or three) last fall, then I believe we have something of a tie. Well, okay, I might have been a tiny bit faster in this case. But.

I also have a national market book, for which I am currently seeking an agent. This book has taken me much longer, and quite a bit more work than my others (partly for length—it’s at least twice as long). And if by some miracle I happen to find that agent in the next six months, it will then likely take me another three to six months of edits before my agent will send my book out on submission (okay, just a guess—not necessarily all true). Then, IF we sell this book to a publisher, up to a year (sometimes more) will likely pass before that book is in stores.

So, I’m looking at two years, if all goes the way I hope.

It’s entirely possible my apple tree will be OLD by then. So will my other trees. Including my maple, which is almost fully mature.

So, does it take longer to grow a tree than to publish a book? Not always. Not when you look at it from the author’s perspective.

Maybe we should as a tree for an opinion?

(This blog is done in fun and not intended to offend any publishing officials—especially Christopher Robbins—who is not actually the character from Winnie the Pooh.)

5 comments:

Karlene said...

Funny. And I do believe I agree with you.

WindyA said...

It totally depends on the tree!

Angie said...

Well, in my case, the trees definitely win!

Carolyn V. said...

Wow, that's a while. I think the trees have an advantage over us writers. =)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I think it depends on the writer. Some are more devoted to writing than others, some are more accomplished than others, and some are more lucky than others.

But it does take a while to see your book grow into that published novel you've always dreamed of. :)