I have heard more than one agent or editor tell a group of writers to take their time writing or rewriting a manuscript. Don’t rush it. Instead, take the time to get it right.
Recently, I read an article about an author who took this to an extreme. Scientific American had contacted Dr. Ian Shine and asked him to write an article on his work on the island of St. Helena. Shine is an MD and worked up a medical and genetic study of this isolated community. One of the things that he studied was heart health and cardiac symptoms.
How long did it take Shine to get his work to the ediors? Here’s a hint. His stint on the island ran from 1960 to 1962. It took him 48 years to contact the magazine with the finished article. Not surprisingly, the editor he had had a contract with was long gone. But the current editor asked to see the article.
In the end, he decided not to publish it. His decision was made not on the fact that it took to long to turn it in or even that some of the information might now be dated. The problem was that Shine didn’t turn in an article so much as a “short book.”
The lesson? Take your time, get it right, but turn in what the editor publishes. Word counts do matter even after 48 years.