it would be blind to simply ignore the litany of delays
Well, the third week of May has come and gone with no sign of the publisher's response to the edits I sent them on 3/8/2013. In fact, there has been no communication initiated by the publisher at all for months.
This is obviously frustrating. When I signed the contract at the first of the year, the publisher indicated that cover art would be produced by mid-January and the editor's work a few weeks later. The editor did finish by Jan. 31, though unfortunately I didn't receive his instructions until the end of February because of computer issues on my end. Once I had the edits, though, I turned them around and back to the publisher within a week. A week later I emailed the publisher to make sure they had received my response, and they replied that they had received and intended to review it "shortly." They also asked for my input on the cover art and indicated it would be assigned to the artist at that time.
I let six weeks go by before contacting the publisher and asking for an update. They had recently released a newsletter (internal to staff and their authors) laying out what they were currently working on, and I was a little surprised to find no mention of my book. They thanked me for the inquiry and remarked that its timing was a coincidence, as they had intended to update me that very day. Now they said their review of my edits was scheduled for the second week of May, with cover art to be assigned thereafter and publication for digital readers in June.
Don't get me wrong, I humbly appreciate 48fourteen's interest in my book and the opportunity they are providing. They've already devoted substantial hours to it at their own expense (600 manuscript pages of comments by the editor, for example) and they have a great deal of activity going on. It's terrific the publisher is so busy, because, as previously noted, the more successful they are, the better platform they can provide for my book. And I'm certainly not out of gratitude or patience.
But that said, there is a pattern emerging here. Repeatedly I've been given time frames for progress on the publishing process that have not born out. I was openly excited by the projection of a June publication, though even then it struck me as possibly over-ambitious to think publication was possible within such a short time after the next edits came in. In particular, there was one issue in the editor's work that I couldn't figure out how to handle and so had asked for guidance. It was a substantive enough issue that I wasn't sure I could wrap up whatever their directions were in time for a June rollout. And I don't know how long a book cover typically takes to produce, but the time frame quoted seemed to me to be possibly cutting it close.
It's not the delays themselves that concern me. I've said all along, and I've meant it, that I'd rather have quality on the project than timeliness if that is the choice. What does bother me is the lack of communication. Missing a deadline can be unavoidable, and projecting the best case is a tendency I'm often guilty of myself. But I do think that, when a time frame is given, it's a matter of professionalism and simple courtesy to notify the other party promptly when circumstances necessitate a change.
I'm not turning negative over this, I still feel warm thankfulness toward 48fourteen and the staff I've corresponded with there. But it would be blind to simply ignore the litany of delays. So what I'm going to do now is to stop publicizing any time frames that are not rock solid. I will continue to update the website as tangible progress is made, but I won't predict. A June release is still possible, and I won't count it out prematurely. But I won't count ON it, either. For now, I'm sinking my creative energy into the sequel and simply hoping for the best. What else can I do?