If you want to take part in the big world of publishing, make a good impression, and hold on to your sanity, you are going to need more than just a little patience. I’m not sure that patience can ever be mastered but I can tell you that there are ways to make the waiting easier. And the more you practice patience the better you will get at it. <–That is an actual true statement.
Chances are that you are already practicing patience—maybe you don’t even realize it.
Creating a good, salable manuscript takes time: Writing! Getting critiqued! Revising! Editing! Submitting is a test of patience as well. Researching agents or publishers and writing a killer customized query letter is no quick feat. But don’t let your resolve end there! It may be trying, but remain calm. You can make it through the time it takes to hear back on submission, even if it takes “FOREVER”.
Here are some quick tips on how to deal with the whole waiting thing:
Sounds simple enough, right? You can make it through the wait. How?
- Know the response time for the person you are sending to. I understand that this isn’t always possible but be sure to check the guidelines and see if a response time is listed. Check in with Sub It Club members, Querytracker, SCBWI Blueboard, Absolute Write, etc. *Double check the source (agent/publisher website) when you get antsy. Response policies can change.
- Write the estimated wait time down on your calendar. Knowing how long you have to wait can be helpful. (I always plan to at least give an extra month or more on my queries depending on the time of year. And yes, just knowing that I do this helps me wait a suitable amount of time.)
- Move on. Get to working on your next submission or another project. Just because you’ve submitted a piece doesn’t mean you’re done. It can take a lot of no’s to get to a yes. Besides passing the time, submitting or creating something new is you working toward your goal of publication.
- Get some hobbies that do not include publishing. *Gasp!* Yes, I know that you just want to write or draw all day long but finding success in other areas of life helps you be a well-rounded , and I hope, happy person. There is plenty of time in the day to enrich your life in additional ways besides the writing or illustrating you do. Really. There is.
- Realize when you are being impatient and know that it’s okay. Take some deep breaths. Appreciate the accomplishment you have made. You have put yourself in line to have your manuscript read. You’ve made a great step toward your publication goal! Check in on response times again if it makes you feel better. Look over twitter feeds. Sometimes you can find information that lets you know the person you submitted to is busy or behind. (If you have submitted along with a group such as 12×12 or after a conference be aware that the agent you have submitted to may have a bigger query load than usual. Consider giving them a little bit more of a cushion on response time instead of filling their inbox with status queries.)
- Have empathy. Agent and publishers get upwards of hundreds of queries a week. They have lots of other things to do besides read queries. Sometimes they even get to go on vacation. Would you read a submission more favorably if someone quietly waited for their turn or if they seemed impatient or pushy? (Yes, I know this can be subjective. Again, empathy. Busy people can be tired and read into things depending on how they feel, ya know?)
- Commiserate with writing friends. We get it. We’re all waiting. It’s more fun when we do it together.
Now, I am not saying that a polite status query is never called for. I’ve sent them myself. Here’s the thing. Your submission is super important—to you, until someone falls in love with it. Be realistic. You want your submission read right now because, hey, it’s exciting! You have a chance at your work being picked up and being made into a book!
Just remember that the person you’re submitting to is aware they have submissions to be read and will get to yours as soon as they can. They likely may not even take notice of your submission until they finally have the time to open it. Not hearing back for any amount of time doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It can even sometimes be a good thing. Writing a helpful personal rejection, revision notes, or sharing a manuscript with colleagues can take time. 😉
And when you sell a book? Oh my friends, the waiting has just begun.
What’s your best waiting strategy? Please, share in the comments. The more tricks we all have to help us be patient the better!