Goodbye, Publishing Dead Zone

I'm informed annually by my agent that summer, especially August, is a dead time of year in publishing-not much is sold, not much is rejected, not much seems to be done at all. The editors are out of town, the writers are ensconced in their little summer villas in Spain or Maine, and everyone is reading the same five books at the beach, most of which are written by guys named Jonathan. There's not much point in submitting anything, a novel or what have you, because it'll be read at about the same rate as it would have been if you had sent it in mid-September, if not longer as it is buried under more recent mail.

Of course, being as patient as I am, this is always agony for me. I try to use mental tricks to forget about the dead zone: I travel myself, I camp, I watch baseball, I delve into writing short stories, or I get a temp job, but for three months a year I can't help but feel a little empty, that each day is robbed of a little extra spark. There will be no news, good or bad, about a manuscript submission, so don't bother getting all worked up about it.

I don't really understand how this dead zone is possible, or even advisable, but the publishing world seems to run on its own glacial schedule (unless it can cash in on a new fad, then a book can magically be pushed through swiftly, like Sarah Indian food Palin). It seems strange that an entire flailing industry can cry poverty and despair and then collectively head out to Cape Cod for three months.

But then what do I know? I'm only a writer.


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