Saturday, September 15, 2007

And, Then, You Wait

We writers spend much our time waiting. We wait for inspiration. We wait for critique partners. And we wait for query responses from agents and editors. Once you finish that brilliant, one-of-a-kind manuscript and polish it to perfection, you open up your latest edition of The Writer’s Market and select an agent or publisher. You write your query and synopsis. (Frankly, I’d rather write an entire novel, than write a synopsis.) You puzzle over how the heck you are going to adequately represent your 100,000 word epic in one to two pages. How will they ever get the story with so little to go on? You rewrite your query letter a few times, crafting it, word by word.

Then, it’s time. You either attach your files to an email, or you make a run to the post office, planting a good luck kiss on the back of the envelope. (And all the agents and editors reading this just said, "Eeewwww.")

And, then, you wait—anywhere from four weeks to twelve months. Although, I’ve received a response to an email query as quickly as three hours after an email submission. (You don’t want one of those.) It’s no secret. Most agents and editors tell you right up front how long you can expect to wait.* So, now what do you do? Here are a few suggestions.

Top Ten Things to Do While Waiting for a Query Response

10. Clean out the garage (attic, storage closet, trunk of the car). Who knows—you may stumble upon the manuscript you were sure would never go anywhere, the one you stuffed into a drawer in total disgust, and discover it’s not nearly as bad as you thought.

9. Walk the dog (from Pittsburgh to San Francisco—and back.)

8. Join a book club and read a novel (or four or six or ten.)

7. Start an exercise program. (By the time you get that call, you’ll be a mere shadow of your former self.)

6. Have a baby. (Go ahead. There’s time.)

5. Potty train your toddler (see number 6.)

4. Wean yourself off caffeine. (Okay, so let’s not get carried away.)

3. Read the latest ‘how to write a novel’ book, and then make a list of all the things wrong with the one you just submitted.

2. Have a nervous breakdown (refer back to number 3.)

And the number one thing to do while waiting for a query response:

1. Write another book!

But look on the bright side--the agent and/or editor has waited for six months to two years while you wrote the book!

*Disclaimer: No agents or editors were consulted about this timeframe. Every writer’s experience will differ. It is this author’s belief that agents and editors do their very best to respond in a timely manner. Really.


Anonymous said...

David Letterman, look out!!

Vicki M. Taylor said...

I like your list of things to do while waiting. Perfect #1. Write the next book. I like to catch up on my reading too. Thanks for the list!