For Publishing Talk, I thought I would talk about the dreaded Waiting Game. Everything in publishing requires a hefty amount of patience. At. Every. Stage. And if you’re like me, patience is not a virtue I was born with but have come to learn.
Stages of waiting:
Query Round 1:
When you first start querying, you do so with wide eyes and a bushy tail. Waiting for the agent of your dreams to respond back to your query doesn’t seem like a big deal… until you realize that some agents can take up to three months or more to respond to a query. Yep, you read that right. The best thing to do while waiting on a response from an agent is to query other agents in the meantime. Never put all your eggs in one agent basket, because that can be a whole lot of waiting for nothing. Keep in mind, some agents respond in minutes to query. There’s this one guy who I swear wakes up in the middle of the night and answers queries.
Query Round 2:
You get a response from an agent and it’s great news. They want to see a partial or a full manuscript (MS). You’re flailing around like a Muppet Baby. The world is bright, shiny, and new. And then after re-reading the email a dozen times, you see how long the agent expects it will be before you hear back from them. Six. Freaking. Weeks. And you’re thinking, “Ohmygaaaawd, I could build a village in six weeks. What will I ever do?” Unless the agent asked for an exclusive, which is rare, keep on querying. A partial and a full request are great, but it’s not the offer. Keep on querying. Also keep in mind, some agents respond back in days on a partial or full. They will let you know how long it will take.
Let’s say you get the call and you have an offer on the table. An agent wants to rep you because you are awesome sauce. You go over what it will take to shine your MS up and get it ready for submission. You wait for the contract. You wait for the revision notes. And once you’re done with the revisions notes, you wait to hear back from the agent. You’re going to do a lot of waiting, because the agent has other clients he/she are working with. You need to patient at this stage and not turn into the author diva everyone loathes to be around. There’s an easy fix for this stage of waiting: start writing something new. Your old MS is in capable hands. It’s time to start another novel. While you’re waiting, work on that, because you never know if your MS is going to sell or not, and you should have something cooking in the stove.
This is probably the hardest part of waiting. Your MS is ready and your agent has begun the first round of submissions to editors. This process can take days (yep, some people sell within days) or anywhere up to a year to sell a book. There is nothing you can do to speed up this process. The only thing you can do is to keep working on that shiny new idea while your agent keeps you up to date on what’s happening.
Your agent tells you that an editor has fallen in love with your MS. Maybe multiple editors have fallen in love. You know that the publishers are holding the—gasp!—acquisitions meeting on a certain day. You’re glued to your computer and to your phone, waiting for that call. Working on a new book is impossible that day. Go sit in the corner and rock. There’s really no other advice I can give you for that day.
You got the contract aaaaaand welcome to the real world of publishing. The editorial process can consist of these stages which can take place over a span of a year, more or less: revision letter, first round of revision and more rounds if the MS requires it: line edits, copy edits, and proofing. During this time a cover is made, which sometimes you will see months before the public and you can’t share it. The same with the back jacket blurb or the blurbs from author authors. Once again, the only thing you can do is work on your new MS to pass time.
Waiting on the Book:
The book is all shiny and pretty and you love it and you hope the world will love it and the release date is still eight months away. Head meets desk. Guess what you do during this time? Keep writing.
And then the process starts all over again, minus finding the agent. Publishing can be a lot of hurry up and wait and waiting can be a killer, but staying on your toes and not wasting the time waiting can help ease the passing of time and stop you from going insane.