Thursday, December 15, 2011

Waiting. Ack!

As I sit here waiting for my photos to upload so I can show you all the new place I am living—they are taking forever to upload—I have started to think about patience. Obviously, it’s something we need in life in general. But when you’re a writer you have to be more patient that a pregnant African Elephant (they’re pregnant for an average of 660 days, in case you were wondering). Now I’m not saying that you need to wait two years on submissions, although I have actually received a couple of rejections two and even three years after I sent in a manuscript!

The thing is, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen or heard someone say it’s been a month, or two, or even three, should I status query? Or worse, I status queried and didn’t hear back, well forget them. Ack!

First of all, most places that you query will have a response time listed somewhere. Whatever that response time is, I find it’s best to just forget about it for as long as you can. Why? Because you don’t want to go crazy with anticipation, that’s why! Of course, you probably won’t be able to forget because you studied the market and chose to send your precious manuscript to this particular agent/editor/publisher for a reason, right? So, take that response time and add a few months to it. The horror! But people in publishing are busy! They have stacks and stacks and stacks of words to read. A person can only do so much so fast. What I like to do is wait until I can barely stand it. (Funny how this usually coincides with the listed response time) and then wait at least another two months before I status query. Yes, I said two months. Maybe even three. Why? To give the person the time to read my manuscript without the added knowledge that I have been bugging them to do so.

Actually, I have gotten pretty good at forgetting (I like to think it’s a skill, not old age creeping up on me) and have found that status querying doesn’t usually matter. I do hear back on submissions eventually. I know there is that rare occasion when something has been lost or forgotten. So, if it makes you feel better and you have waited for what feels like an excruciatingly long amount of time past the stated response time, send a short status query. But be aware that you might not hear back on that either. Policies change. All in all, no response = no. And boy, can those places with a no response policy make the wait easier, because getting a response is a great surprise!

In case you’re wondering, when you have an agent the response times do get shorter, usually. And the responses are often times specific and helpful. But there is still waiting!

Well, my picture still won’t load so I’m going to go do something else for a while. Guess I’ll have to make you wait to see it.

Do you have a personal policy on waiting to hear back on submissions? I'd love to hear what it is.


  1. Heather,

    I have found your post extremely... RELEVANT! I drive myself crazy while waiting. My calendar, which should be marked with important things like kids' birthdays and when to cancel our fancy cable package, is marked with with agency names and query dates.

    I have found one light in the oh, so very dark tunnel though. There is one particularly amazing agent who receives queries at the beginning of the month and responds by the end of the month!=) I have been so impressed with her warm correspondence,sense of humor and quick turn around time that I am hooked! Rejection never felt so good! My point is that I feel good having found someone in the literary world that I have some kind of connection to, even if it is via email and might only be rejection!!

    Thanks so much Heather for all of your entertaining and informative posts!

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  3. P.S. If you are ever wanting to read about the revleations of someone silly who is currently trying to write for kiddos, you can check out my new blog... Thanks!

  4. I was just over at your blog checking it out! I can relate with silly!

    Before I partnered with my agent I kept a folder and had a page for each manuscript where I listed all my submissions, date out, listed response time, etc. I think it's important to know who you've subbed to. But maybe you need a separate calendar for your regular life stuff! ;-) Oh, Querytracker is nice for keeping track of agent subs too. Love that.

    This may not be the case but from what you've said, I worry a tad about you oversubbing to one person? You don't want them to think you aren't sending your best work. And believe it or not, there are lots of other people who do respond, and rather quickly. I find that the more subs I have out the easier it is to wait, especially once you get a good number of them out because it seems that you are hearing back from someone here and there and it really helps to make waiting for the others easier. Be brave! If you have something ready, choose a good number (5-10 maybe?) of places to send it to and get that manuscript out. When you get a rejection send it out to someone else. And get to work on another story, get it sparkly, and start sending that out too. Repeat, repeat, repeat! Before you know it you'll be hearing back. Here's hoping for a yes!

  5. Waiting is the worst, but I've found, like you, that I usually do get a response at some point - at least from agents. Building that into our timelines and our expectations is what's key.