I am excellent at encouraging my children to be patient.
I am less than excellent at following my own advice.
When I submitted my first round of query letters to literary agents a couple of weeks ago, I knew that waiting for a response was just part of the game.
Ok, they all say to wait four to six weeks for a response. No problem. I’ll just keep busy and not even think about it until then.
I kept that resolve for about….half a day?
Throwing that query letter out into the world where I have no control over it, and waiting, waiting to get a request for more… or a rejection… or (THE WORST) no response at all, has left me a bit nervous.
SO, in case any of you are in the same boat, (or just want to share in my misery- thanks!) I’ve written the following handy guide to surviving the ‘query crazy.’
- Don’t obsess over your e-mail Inbox. After all, if an agent is going to write back, they’re going to do it on their own time. It’s not as if you’re going to get a manuscript request withdrawn by not responding immediately. (But just in case you will, maybe check just one more time.)
- Remind yourself that everything is a process. Whether you get picked up at this time or not doesn’t eliminate the hours…and hours…and hours you put into your manuscript. (And if you DO get picked up, you’ll likely be spending more hours on it. So really, this is like a mini-vacation!)
- Catch up on housework. If you are like me, during the crazy writing and researching and submission processes, something in your cluttered sink has begun smelling like death. It’s as good a time to mend this as any.
- Stop! I said don’t obsess over your e-mail. But, if you need to check if your mom has responded to your last and you just happen to check the rest of your inbox, who can blame you?
- Bake. You’re cleaning the kitchen anyway. It’s always more fun to clean when something is baking in the oven, and then when you have the urge to stress-snack you have something homemade. So far in this process we’ve made it through two chocolate zucchini cakes. (Hey, it has zucchini in it after all- it’s practically a salad.)
- Remind yourself that rejection is typical. After all, Kate DiCamillo was rejected 47(?) times before Because of Winn Dixie was picked up, and then she won the Newberry.*
- Ride out the mood swings. “I hate my story now! It’s awful and they won’t like it either!” is not productive. You liked it before, remember? You will again. Be confident!
- Let it go. Yes, you just realized you missed a typo in the first query you sent out. Don’t panic. Improve your proofreading, and hope that she won’t hold that ‘who’ rather than ‘whom’ against you
- Try not to drive your friends crazy. You may get urges to
p estersweetly ask your spouse/friend/beta reader/random facebook acquaintance for reassurance. “You like my story, right? Right? What about this bit? What about this character? What about…?” Settle down, friend.
- Don’t check that e-mail again! It’s after working hours now- they won’t be writing you. (Unless they picked up your pages at the end of the day and just couldn’t put them down…maybe one more check…)
Hang in there, writers! And to the rest of you, thanks for your patience!
Anyone else have tips to make waiting (whatever your current wait is 🙂 ) more bearable?
* This is based off of my memories of a wonderful presentation she gave while I was in college. Knowing my memory… well, I’m reasonably sure the number is correct, but feel free to prove me wrong!