Writers are known for making goals, but not all of us are known for our patience, especially with the query process. While writers often decry the waiting and the subjectivity of the whole process, I think we’re all missing the root of the issue.
When we send off a partial or full manuscript, there is a period of time when someone else, an utter stranger, has complete control over our future. Worse still, the decision that individual makes will be, in some ways, subjective.
Giving up control is hard. Trust me, I know, especially now that I’m involved in the submission process. Patience is a virtue I endure with grinding teeth and sleepless nights. It’s just my nature; I’m this way with everything. One way I prevent myself from feeling helpless is by managing the factors I can control. Here’s how I’m getting through it:
- I remind myself constantly that a literary agent’s first responsibility is to their existing clients. If a literary agent represents six or more clients, his or her week is going to be full without the additional reading of queries, partials, and fulls.
- Literary agents have families too. I know there are occasions when my family will take up part of my workday, and I’m sure that happens to literary agents as well.
- When I am reading a friend’s chapter on OWW or if someone I know sends me something to read, it takes me anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour (depending on the length) to give the material my full attention. Imagine doing that for over 200 emails a day.
- Reading for approximately an hour and a half to two hours an evening, it takes me anywhere from a week to two weeks to read a novel. Of course, that’s when I give the novel my full attention.
When I start adding up the reading time, how long it takes to write good correspondence, and all the pesky daily interruptions that can add up in a day or week, I realize that an agent’s turnaround time is actually quite speedy. The best thing writers can do for themselves is stay busy. Here are a few things I’m doing:
- I’ve started my next novel. I would like to have a first draft finished by the time I have interested a literary agent in the novel I have on submission. It’s possible no agent will be interested in my current novel, and if that’s the case, I want something different to market next time.
- I’ve joined the Publishers Marketplace so I can see which literary agents are selling works in my genre and also see what types of books are selling. (P.S. You won’t find me there in a search, because I’ve chosen not to add a webpage. I had one up on Friday, but it looked so dinky, I took it down.)
- I’m building a list of agents to query, checking out their submission guidelines and adding them to my address book along with links to their websites.
- In some cases, I’m reworking my query letter to meet the different submission guidelines.
- I continue to find topics to write about for my blog, not because I’m an expert on anything, but simply because writing my blog keeps me focused and helps me to better my craft.
Of course, there is my own job, family, and a list of priorities ten miles long in my own tiny corner of the world. Giving up control is hard, being patient is harder, but I’m hanging in there. How about you? If you’re published, what did you do to get through the long waiting period of your submission process? If you’re unpublished, what are you doing to get through the submission process, and finally, if you don’t have anything on submission, are you making plans?