On Waiting

Someone told me and subsequently I tell other people, the two most important things for a writer to have in this industry: Patience and Persistence.

But the truth is...

Waiting is torment.  Yet people require it of you at every stage of the road to publication.

When you're looking for an agent: if the process is at it's quickest, you wait for agents to read the query, your ms gets requests, and you wait for the agent to read and respond.

Once you have an agent: you go out on submission and wait for editors to respond.

Once you have an editor and a book deal: you wait for your contract, you wait for your editorial notes, you wait for your copy edits, you wait for your cover, you wait to see your manuscript actually become a book.

The thing is, for all the waiting writers do, industry professionals are also waiting right along side them.

Many of the offers of representation I've made, I've waited to find out whether or not that writer would choose me (all the while, going "pick me, pick me!" and annoying everyone in my office with my constant "But I'll die if I don't get it" whining).  When I go out on submission with a manuscript, I'm waiting for editors to read (cue more annoying whining everyone in the office has to deal with - I'm horribly impatient).

Editors also have to wait.  During auctions, they're waiting to hear if they're going to be able to get the book they love so much.  When buying a book, they often have to wait for approval from bosses, from sales and marketing.  Then they wait for the art department for the cover and the booksellers for the order numbers and then the reviewers, bloggers, and book buying public to hear how the book does.

So, how do we cope with all this waiting?

I read more and throw myself into long hours at work (and whine to my colleagues).  Which works for me.

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KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

I am so impatient. I hope my foray into publishing will improve it, but this post makes me think maybe not?

Throwing myself into work is one way, I also pretend I am not supposed to hear anything back-- then I don't have an endpoint in mind.

I want to be all zen, all oprah, all "live in the now" but I can manage that maybe 37% of the time.

kel said...

I'm glad to hear waiting is difficult even for those on the other side of the email. During the waiting process, I obsessively check my email (the iphone is both a blessing and a curse), read agent blogs, and send more queries. There's also twitter, where I can read the minute by minute activities of agents who have my MS. This is a painful thing. I actually whined to my husband the other day, "why is she drinking margaritas when she should be reading my MS?"

Buffy Andrews said...

I'm learning to be patient, but it's a challenge for me. It's the one thing I pretty much suck at. I'm wrapped up in so many things that I'm never not doing something. That helps the waiting. In the end, the wait is worth it. An agent who believes in you and your work, an editor who wants to help you do the best work of your life,and a publisher who supports you -- those things are worth waiting for. I'd like to think that all of these people find each other, that somehow they come together when it's right. Maybe that's the dreamer in me. But we're nowhere without our dreams and the tenacity to pursue them with everything we have.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Wow! I was just reading an article on this topic this morning. Here's one of my favorite quotes:

"From that experience [becoming a refugee in a new land at the age of ten], I learned that patience was far more than simply waiting for something to happen - patience required actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn't appear instantly or without effort."

Thanks for this, Suzie. It's always nice to hear that agents have to deal with the same things we do sometimes:)

Kaitlin said...

I haven't ever been a very patient person, but trying to make a go of it in this business has helped IMMENSELY. So all the waiting is kind of worth something, even if it's not always easy.

Rebecca B said...

I love this post. :) I think "Good things come to those who wait" is becoming my mantra.

Derek Molata said...

Don't forget, we also DRINK to cope with all the waiting. Oh yes we do.

Julie said...

I'm with Derek! Drinking is great for waiting.

Its nice to have someone put it into perspective. That its not just one God of publishing in some giant office smoking a cigar and playing golf on one of those putt-putt things, while everyone waits for an answer.

I try to think of other things I work on to get ahead or anticipate a possible revision.

Personally, if someone has and agent or editor its not a bad Idea to ask if they have a suggestion of what the author should work on while waiting.

Of course that probably depends on other factors.

Shelli Cornelison said...

You must be psychic. It's the waiting that is killing me right now. I've waited before but I must have had more patience then. Now I have none. So I start a new project, and a new bag of dark chocolate chips, and a new bottle of... Oh wait, too much information, right? Great blog post. Very timely.

Romance, Rumours and Rogues said...

Great post, Suzie.

I often say the publishing biz is all about waiting...and it never gets any easier.

I throw myself into next manuscript to help ease the wait. While constantly checking my inbox, of course :)

Tracey said...

Awesome post. :-)

I like to think that writing is supposed to be teaching me patience. Really though, I think I'm being tormented for the sins of a past life.

Unknown said...

It's gotten so bad that I've started to mix up the words. At a family reunion, my Aunt Betty asked what I did in my spare time. And I was prepared to announce proudly that 'I'm a writer', instead I said, 'I'm a waiter'. She still asks me which restaurant I'm working at. Geez! Let it go, Aunt Betty!!

B Jas said...

Heehee. Spoken like a true Aries! (re: the impatient part). So true re: patience and persistence. In fact, workshop leader Brian Henry says it takes 3 things to get a book published: 1) Patience, 2) A Good Story, and 3) Luck -- and you only need 2 out of 3 of these!

Suzie, this is me waiting, *very patiently* :-)
B Jas

Nikki said...

You whine? I can't imagine it. (Though I *can* imagine the long hours at work part...)

I could teach you some finer whining techniques, I'm sure. It's a question of experience - time spent perfecting the art. I whine every day, at least a thousand words a day, whether I feel like it or not. When I start out whining, it might not be the best, most pathetic whining I've ever done, but by the time I've settled into the whining, I sort of hit my stride and there's no stopping me. On my best whining days, it's pure genius. Art, even.

Some people can take or leave whining. Me? I can't imagine a life without it. If I couldn't whine, I'd die.
In fact, I'd better go now - I have to hit my whine word quota before I go to bed.

Alice said...

If everyone waits, it's a wonder any book is ever published.