When JACOB WONDERBAR went out to editors I really thought I was going to be completely cool about the submission process. I’m an agent! I’ve seen this before! I’ve sold projects that were out on submission for six months and even a year! How hard could it be?
So. Being a Big Bad Experienced Agent, how long did it take me to crack?
A week and a half.
A WEEK AND A HALF.
That’s how long it took before I woke up in the middle of the night to check my e-mail, woke up my poor wife and said, “It’s not going to sell! It’s not going to sell. I can’t believe it, it’s not going to sell.”
Now, bear in mind that I know that even when books sell they almost never sell in a week and a half. I know that!! A book selling in a week and a half is almost unheard of. But for some reason everything I knew went out the window. It’s like I turned into a doctor who’s afraid of needles.
Luckily I was able to keep my panic within the walls of my apartment, but all the same: the experience gave me a huge new respect for just how hard it is to be waiting to hear about your manuscript.
Writing is hard. It’s hard, it’s time-consuming, it’s solitary… it’s hard. But at least it’s within your control. You can change things, you can work harder and revise more, and it’s all within your reach. Writing is the fun part.
The frustrating thing about submitting to agents and editors is that there’s nothing. you. can. do. about. it. Once you hit send you’re at their mercy. The stress of always wondering if today is the day you’re going to receive good or bad news, of always sneaking peeks at your e-mail, and trying to be cool and composed in front of the people who are invested in your work, and hearing all those nos before you get your yeses…. it’s a steady stress that wears you down.
Everyone has their breaking point. Turns out mine is embarrassingly short.
Now that I’ve gone through this myself, I really really try as much as I can to avoid keeping people waiting. I try so hard to keep waiting to a minimum. At the same time, a certain amount of time is just built into the process simply because it takes a long time to read a lot of different projects.
How do you cope with the waiting?