Waiting games

I’ve realized that in order to survive as a writer, you have to have one very essential skill. No, I’m not talking about grammar, or the ability to craft beautiful prose, or a keen grasp of plot dynamics.

I’m talking about patience.  Holy crap, but you have to have absolute bucketloads of patience in this biz! First there’s the patience when you start querying agents. Then there’s the agonizing wait after one of them nibbles and asks for a partial. And if they then request the full manuscript, dearest gods above and below, but the seconds drag like eons while you anxiously await the verdict.

But then you achieve that next step! An agent calls and offers to represent you! Hurrah, no more of that agonizing waiting!

Err…  Except that now you get to experience the joy of being “on submission,” and you have to ramp up the patience one more time as you wait to hear back from editors who have your manuscript. Some people are lucky enough to hear good news in just a few weeks, while others languish for months and months… (and some folks, even with an agent sending the book out, never do get a yes, but we’re going to try and stay a bit more positive here!)

Then you get The Call from your agent. Yay! Your book sold!  Now all you have to do is wait for your book to come out, right?


If only it were so simple.  No, then you get to wait for your editor to send you a revision letter, because even though they loved the book enough to offer you money for it, they have puh-lenty of “suggestions” for ways it can be made better.

After revisions there are some smaller waits, such as waiting for the copyedits, and the page proofs, but those are somewhat minor waits, because it’s not like you’re waiting on someone to give their opinion.

And that’s what so hard about so much of the waiting in this game–you’re not just waiting for something to happen. You’re waiting for someone to give their opinion of something you’ve labored for months or perhaps years on. Each one of those “Will they love it?” waits is a time for massive nail-biting/comfort eating/endorphin-producing-activity of your choice.

Right now I’m going through another one of those agonizing “Will they love it?” waits: reviews. Holy crap, but I think this is the hardest one so far! The advance copies were sent out long enough ago that I know the recipients have had several whole days–at least–to read their copy. Days! Several! So why haven’t they written their reviews yet? Why can’t they read–and write–faster??  What’s wrong with these people? *sob*


The next wait will be the wait to see the sales figures. I’m not sure I’m going to last through that one.


12 Responses to “Waiting games”

  1. March 29, 2009 at 2:43 am

    They’ll love it! Our editor has great taste. *g*

  2. March 29, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    The waiting was the hardest for me too. During the submission process there were days where I just wanted to call my agent and tell him to forget it, that the waiting was too much for me. Thankfully, working on my next project, Oreos, and Battlestar Galactica helped me not be a moron. Now I’m waiting for the editorial letter. They should really tell writers beforehand that patience is an absolute necessity 😉

  3. 3 rachelaaron
    March 29, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Diana, you’re supposed to tell me this gets EASIER…

  4. March 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    OMG YES. And it doesn’t help when your book is initially slated to be out in Fall 2009 then gets bumped to Spring 2010, which makes an already-long wait feel like FOREVER. -_-

    And honestly, that doesn’t bug me so much. Like you’ve noted, writers learn patience; I can handle the wait. But now I’m in that peculiar limbo between contract and publication, and if I had a dime for every person who’s asked me “Where can I find your book?” and looked disappointed when I say, “Sorry, it won’t be out for a year,” I could buy a house.

    In New York.


    Still, though, there are little steps along the way that help ease the tension. I just saw the preliminary artwork for my first novel’s cover, and I’m thrilled. Bouncing-in-my-seat, squealing-like-a-girl thrilled. (Once I get the OK from my publisher, I’ll post it here.) And I just finished the copyedit for Book 1, complete with the title page and all the little marketing bits that will be involved. I have an ISBN number!! Seriously, I got so excited about that. =)

  5. March 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Yeah, what N.K. said. I got bumped six months and am still waiting these last few weeks before I can stop grinding my teeth when asked about when the book will be out. I think I hit the zen state about three weeks back, where it became “someone else’s book.” I’ll be happy for them when it shows up, but I’ve wandered off in some blissful trance.

    (which is mostly a lie, but I’m getting close.)

  6. March 30, 2009 at 1:46 am

    I’m just grateful for the miracle of email. Can you IMAGINE how awful the waiting had to have been in the days before electronic communication?? I would have died a thousand deaths by now!

  7. 7 mentatjack
    March 30, 2009 at 4:40 am

    MANY of the advanced reader copies I’ve gotten my voracious chompy eyeballs into have had an “All reviews should be scheduled to run after [tentative On-Sale Date]”

    Not that that really changes the amount or quality of the waiting involved.

  8. March 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Mentatjack, that really surprises me. Why wouldn’t the publisher want buzz before the release date? I know that, when queried, my publisher stated that they would prefer to have reviews posted sooner in order to start building up that buzz.

    (So, ummm, y’know… if MY book happens to be one of those ARCs that you have, feel free to get that review out as soon as you possibly can. No pressure though. Really. It’s not like I’m dying here or anything!!)*g*

  9. 9 mentatjack
    March 30, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I think the idea is to make sure that when someone reads a review of something it’s available for purchase. A review has to be AMAZING to get me to preorder a book and if I don’t preorder a book it has to STILL be amazing for me to remember the review for a month or more, to the point where it could influence an impulse buy.

    That said, I’d assume that that type of messaging is a hold over from when print media would have dominated the reviews. I actually get MORE traffic to review posts on my blog after a week or so, once it’s gotten a few links and gotten indexed by all the search engines, than I do the day I post them.

  10. March 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    LIke you said, I think the mentality has shifted. Now it’s not so much about getting someone to buy the book THAT DAY as it is to get people talking about it online and generating a buzz. That’s something that simply couldn’t happen in the days of prin-only media.

  11. March 30, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I was lucky. Mine got moved *up* in the schedule. (Only by two months, but still!)

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