Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Waiting Game

I'm sitting at my desk staring at the little icon for my email.  When I get a message, it jumps up and down like an excited pug and I get the nervous butterflies in my stomach. But then, when I click on the little hyper bastard and see that the incoming message is spam, my mood sinks just a little bit more.

Welcome to my life.

Actually, it's the life of every writer, agented or not. People who don't do this make assumptions that you can send your manuscript out and, like any other piece of email you send, you'll get a reply back within twenty four hours. But that's not how it works. Don't believe me? Here... Look at this:

Blow that up and what you'll see is a listing from, which a site dedicated to folks like us who write and want to make a living at it.  Specifically, they update submission requirements every day.  See those highlighted areas? Those are listed as "RT."  That means "response time." Notice anything?  Yep.  Some of them are more than six months for a reply. Six. Months. Why? Because these people are professionals.  They are in the business of making money and publishing the very best manuscripts that they can find, which means, of course, that everyone wants their manuscript published by them. One (conservative) estimate is that editors receive about 600 queries per week. That, if my math is correct (and I'm using a calculator... Math isn't my strong suit) is more than 31,000 queries per year.  Now, if each query is, let's say, a 400 page novel, that's more than 12 MILLION pages that these people have to get through. See where I'm going with this? 

Pictured:  Agent/Editor
Sure, your book may be the greatest thing written since the invention of the QWERTY Keyboard, but the agent/editor has to get to it before she offers you gobs of money, and that means wading through all the rest. Fair or not, it's how it works. And, by the way, agents have the same type of wait, just like unagented people do.  They just get to nag when they feel it's appropriate. 

Pictured:  You.
To clarify, you've just spent four months (or more) of your life writing a novel that is the best thing that has ever been written, and now you have to wait even more? Yes. That's just how it works. Deal with it. But what, I hear you asking, am I supposed to do while I wait? Start the next novel. 
Move it, monkey. 
Okay, yes, take a break. Take a mini-vacation, if you must. But if you are like me, while you were busy hammering your last opus out, thousands of ideas hit your brain and you lamented not working on them then because you had to finish what was already in front of you. So go write them. All of them or any of them, but get back to work while your creative juices are flowing. The point is, once you send something out, there is no point in worrying about it anymore.  It's out.  It's gone. You can no longer tweak it or fix any errors. Now you just have to deal with the fact that your little baby sparrow is trying its wings out. Wherever you sent it, put a mark in your calendar for whenever the response time is, and if you've received nothing by then, send it out again. 
This is your life now.
I'm playing the waiting right now. I'm waiting on word back from my agent about the manuscript for my latest novel, Ungeheur.  I'm also waiting on a reply from another publisher for another manuscript for Bokor Island. And, last but certainly not least, I'm waiting for the yea or nay from Emerson University to see if I got into their MFA program. I hate waiting. Since I'm someone prone to stress and suffer from depression, waiting is really hard for me to do. So what else am I doing? Working on a new novel. Sewing (yes, really) a couple of new shirts. Petting my pug. Paying attention to my wife and kid. I'm trying to let all the anxiety slip away while life happens. Then, if something wonderful occurs, I'll be thrilled. But in the meantime, waiting is all I can do. 

Until next time...