Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Waiting is the Worst Part

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?






209 comments:

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Anonymous said...

I work on other projects. maybe not writing a new book, because I hopfeully assume I won't have time to finish it because soon I'll have to edit the one that's out on submission (don't like to have first draft writing interrupted), but will write sample opening chapters of new books, outlines, idea generation, that kind of thing to pass the time until I hear on the status of the last project. then I go from there.

Cheeky Wench said...

Great blog. I just checked my email for the fortylebbenth time for a partial that has been out since the 5th.

How do I cope? I try to ignore it and keep writing. I'm so busy right now with something else I haven't had too much time to obsess. Well, until now. Thanks for nothing! lol :D

Kiersten White said...

Online chats with one of your clients (one guess who) wherein I lose it and melt down so that when I talk to her, my agent thinks I'm incredibly calm.

I can't overestimate the importance of having friends who are writers. They are the only ones who understand. Really. THE ONLY ONES.

Other than that, I stress eat so that I can worry about my five extra pounds instead of submissions.

Thank goodness it'll be at least a year before I ever go out on sub again. I've still got to lose five pounds from the last round.

Richard Mabry said...

I try to be patient, but when my patience is exhausted I call my agent. She soothes my spirit and tells me to be patient. Don't know what I'll do if she runs out of patience. Did I mention that I try to be patient?

Lisa Schroeder said...

Keep on writing.

And share in the angst with a close authorly friend or two who really understands.

And watch LOTS of reality TV. Suddenly, the waiting doesn't seem QUITE so bad. :)

Amy Sorrells said...

This post was the highlight of my day. I think I cracked 30 seconds after I hit send. And coping? How do I cope? Except for my additional thoughts about re-starting weekly therapy, and wondering if I need to increase or add to my medications, I cope pretty much the exact same way as you did. By the way, I am a nurse, and it IS the same when any of my kids are sick. Whenever life's roles reverse, everything you thought you knew evaporates. Completely. Thanks for this post!!!

Gordon Jerome said...

Perhaps I'm Johnny-come-too-lately, and everyone else already knows, but what is Jacob Wonderbar about? Is it your first novel?

Bane of Anubis said...

Poorly. Not sure which is worse, waiting for a few weeks or getting three rejections on the same day. Good thing the publishing industry's looking so healthy... oh, wait...

A. Berman said...

As it turns out I become moody, insecure and frustrated. I thank my husband daily for being so patient. But the best advice I can give is to work on new stories, poems, whatever. Create. That's going to keep you feeling productive and like a writer even through all the killer rejections.

J. said...

I try to start a new project but I still get tempted by my inbox every few hours. I wish more agents went through this process. I've had two fulls out for over six months. I'm guessing that means they're not interested, but I'd still appreciate even a form letter.

Elyssa Papa said...

Nathan, if it gives you any comfort . . . you lasted longer than me. I'm checking my email every single day--okay, let me be honest--every couple of hours to see if my revision is good enough for my agent to start submitting. (Let's just forget the fact that my agent has already told me that she's traveling this month because my brain is still checking.) And yeah, every day I think: I'm not going to sell.

I am so going to break whenever I go out on submission.

Ruthanne Reid said...

Exercise. I find jogging long and hard tends to help a lot.

Liana Brooks said...

FWIW, I've only sent out short stories at this point. They have less emotional attachment than novels, but there's a similar process.

And once a story is out on submission, I forget it exists. I've done my best and now it's out of my hands. I work on other projects.

There's a bit of a shock and bemusement when a rejection letter arrives. And usually more confusion when an acceptance arrives asking me to sign a contract. Once so far I've had to go hunt down the story and reread because I wasn't sure the editor talking about my piece. :o)

Anita Saxena said...

Definitely comuplsively check my email (although I've never awoke in the middle of the night to do it) OR my other tactic: I try to forget about it. My life is busy, so it easily diverts my attention.

There's no one important reading my work... Book? Who said I wrote a book?

Stephanie Denise Brown said...

As others have said, I start drafting new novels to keep my mind off the one on submission. This doesn't always work though because I get anxious about the writing, wondering if what I'm doing is "working" in all my other pieces.

I think the best thing to do after sending in a submission is to UNPLUG! I'm not saying become a slacker, fold your hands and wait for the money to roll in, but a mini-break is in order. It takes A LOT of work to get a submission ready. I think the best way to relax yourself is to unplug by stepping away from the computer for a full day and go out to the movies or take a drive to San Diego or veg out on your favorite television episodes (ya know, the ones you kept missing because you were working so hard on the submission).

Once you've unplugged, I think your brain is forced to say STOP and perhaps pull away from worrying so much about the project. When you come back from the break, you can always feel a bit more relaxed and ready to start something new. This is what I try to do! :)

Michelle Moran said...

By working on new projects, whether it's a new novel, a new look for the website, or doing some new outreach.

And again, congratulations!!!!

Kristi said...

I love that you shared that with us - thanks.

Nathan Bransford said...

gordon-

I went back and put a link in the main post that provides the whole story. JACOB WONDERBAR is a middle grade novel about three kids who trade a corndog for a spaceship, blast into space, break the universe, and have to find their way home.

Dawn said...

I work on other things. I don't have anything in submission right now, but my first novel came out earlier this month. When it was out and I was waiting, I did they same things you did, Nathan. But I found it helped to throw myself into other projects. While I was waiting, I worked on my second manuscript, which is now out with a beta.
While I'm waiting to hear about that, I'm working on a sequel to the first, networking, talking to other authors, mulling over an idea for a fourth book, and freelance editing on the side.

L. V. Gaudet said...

First and most important - wine. Yeah and chocolate too. Just go easy on the chocolate or you'll get fat.

Second and probably just as important - don't talk to family. Nothing makes waiting for anything longer than the comments from the hen house, those loving people who would naturally assume that just because you haven't heard from the publisher in the last two weeks (six months etc) that you've been dropped.

C.D. Reimer said...

I got about 50+ short stories, poems and articles floating in the slush piles at any one time. Too much to care about individually.

Waiting doesn't kill me. Writing a special piece for a special market and getting rejected kills me. Some hurts more than other. Then I put the piece back into circulation and move on.

Mark Terry said...

First, you get used to it. Second, I have more work than I handle, so I'm always busy. That definitely helps.

Heidi Yantzi said...

Knowing that you have been through it, that you know both sides, is such a comfort.

How do I deal with the awful waiting? Same thing I always do. Read, write, nag the kids, scratch the dog, brush the horses, sweep the floor, scribble notes, phone the husband, and worry my face off.

I'm considering taking a totally pessimistic approach like "nothing will ever happen with this" in order to be pleasantly surprised but I hear thinking positive is healthy, so... yeah. More of the same and life goes on!

Heidi Yantzi said...

One more thing that really helps: get together with writer friends (in person or online) and vent. Share. Complain. Then cheer each other on, build each other up, and get on with it!!

Lydia Sharp said...

How do I cope? The same way I cope with any other kind of stress. I EAT. It's easy to refrain from constantly checking your email when your fingers are all sticky.

Matilda McCloud said...

I cope by having amnesia. I obsess before sending off the partial, and obsess for a few more days after, then I sorta move on and almost forget whom I've sent the ms to. Also, as soon as I send off a partial or full, I find another agent to send a query to. You gotta keep moving along or the disappointments will be too much.

I did wait for 13 months once to hear about a picture book ms. The editor kept writing to say, yes, they were interested, they needed more time etc. In the end, I got a form letter with a handwritten rejection on it saying they didn't want it after all. That was my longest wait!

Anonymous said...

Waiting is a huge part of the publishing business, so if you intend to stick around, it makes sense to adopt a waiting period policy of sorts, so that you are as efficient and productive as possible no matter what's happening.

Basically, you need to be writing and/or promoting what you've already written every day. If you're an unknown writer who hasn't sold yet, subbing to agents, I'd turn around and start writing book #2 as soon as #1 flies out your inbox. You should never simply be waiting for someone else to do something, but always moving forward on your own.

Another big waiting period is post-agent, pre-sale. And then, after you've sold--waiting for your editor to work with you. Then waiting for the book to actually come out. Then waiting for sales results. Hopefully royalty checks. Waiting for the publisher to accept or reject your 2nd book....it's an endless string of waiting periods followed by bursts of activity followed by more waiting, etc...

So to increase the odds for longevity in the biz a writer needs to have a system of production whereby the waiting periods are efficiently utilized. One way to do this is by promoting previous works, but you should also always be creating new stuff.

Anonymous said...

Nathan!!!


I hope someone says what not to do during the wait: self-publish.

I have humored the rants. I've visited the blogs. I've hand held the friend with the book that would. not. sell.

And so I just bought my first self-published book. The friend's. And...

Oh. My.


Please, please find a way to work it out--this whole e publishing thing, this decline of book sellers, this fear of taking a risk on a small thing so all that's left is Sarah and that girl from Full House.

We want to hear new voices.

But.

We need someone to stand between us and the slush. For reals.

Anonymous said...

Hell, I've been writing my first novel for a little over six months now. I am happy to say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So hopefully I'll be finished in a couple of weeks.

I haven't gotten to the waiting for yes/no from submissions yet. But I kind of get a sense of what the wait might be like. Just waiting for that satisfying feeling and being able to say 'I'M FINISHED' (even if only first draft) is frustrating enough.

Hell, Not only can I not wait for the book to come out. I'm hangin' out for the movie!!!

So, good luck to all of you who have gotten as far as the waiting game. I don't envy your agony.

Lily D said...

I'm not looking forward to this. I had an editor who loved my writing and published two of my novels, but he passed away a year and a half ago. Knowing how hard it was before I found him, I stopped writing for nearly a year, but my good writer friends wouldn't let me quit. Now that I have something within range of publishable, I have to resist the temptation to put it out as an e-book because I hate the submission process so much.

So thanks for writing this. It's good to know that everyone goes through this, and I need to be strong. And I need to remind myself what I love about this game so I stay in it.

Suzanne Young said...

The first time, I used alcohol and shopping. :-)

The second time, I took the dating approach. Don't be too available. Seem aloof. And sold quickly.

Totally was the manuscript, but I like to think I tricked fate a little bit.

L... said...

A week and a half.

A WEEK AND A HALF?

Jeesh! I had a sub out with a publisher once that took a year and a half to hear back. A YEAR AND A HALF!

Of course I now type with bloody stumps instead of fingers because I chewed them all off waiting for my rejection.

Congrats on the novel being picked up. Hah, now you have to wait for your big release day. And how long away is that? Hmmm?

Anonymous said...

Your breaking point was a week and a half? And you sold it in that amount of time.

I officially hate you.

'Sokay, I'll like you again tomorrow, I'm sure, but still, hell.

Is this why I can't sell/get an agent? My breaking point is way too long?

bryngreenwood said...

Who's coping? I've been on sub for four months and sometimes it's all I can do not to claw my own eyes out. Oh, right, and I wrote another book. *twitch*

Steve & Sarah said...

Fortunately your story had a happy ending! Perhaps a topic for a future blog would be, how do you deal with the rejection...

Erika Parker Price said...

Remember that there is at least hope in the waiting process.

It is the instant rejection that kills me. I was once rejected by email in less than an hour. Amazingly, the agent actually had read (ok, at least skimmed) the requested first 5 pages and made specific comments. I hadn't even had time to brace myself for rejection yet and there it was in my Inbox.

Waiting means there is still a chance!

ajcastle said...

I think I love you even more after this post! *hugs* Just knowing how in tune you are with us writers
(being one yourself) helps give so much more enlightenment to your words.

How do I deal? Well, at first, I was like that, checking my email multiple times, heart racing and palms sweating. But after a while, the non-responses and no's starting blurring together. The positives were still exciting, but were so few compared to the negatives. I starting having that self doubt, that overwhelming despair of 'maybe I really do suck'.

But then, I decided to just forget it. I would wait on the remaining submissions that were out, and the queries withstanding but that I wasn't going to stress it. And then, I wrote another book -- and a half. ;) Yes, I said it. I wrote another book and a half. I tend to write rough drafts pretty fast, and then I revise several times after that.

Guess what? I like my new (finished) book much better than the one I was querying! I think it's better written, funnier, sexier, etc...all the er's you can pack into it.

I guess what I'm saying is...write another book while you're waiting. It takes your mind off the obsessive awfulness of the wait. Plus, it can't hurt anything, right?

Meredith said...

Keep writing. Focus on the new project. Keep writing. And try not to hold my breath when I see the e-mail finally arrive.

Hillary said...

I have a few partials and fulls out there. Mainly, I am still agog with surpise at the interest in my most recent book. The first two were queried with nary a response, and I had relegated myself to rejection when I wrote the third.

I am still relishing the glory to worry too much about the submissions right now.

Lilliam Rivera said...

I work on my next book while I'm waiting to hear back from agents. When I finally get a response and it's a big NO, I throw myself a pity party for a day. I give myself only one day and then I move on to the next agent on my list. Gotta keep on keeping on!

Natalie Whipple said...

Waiting is soul crushing. And there's really no way around it. So far I've found there's always that "breaking point" when panic sets in (hey a week and a half for me, too!), but then there's a "chill out" point as well. At that point the emotions dull just enough to be bearable. Mine with querying was about 6ish weeks.

I think talking about the utter horror of waiting helps. And also concentrating on things you can control—like writing a new book or digging in on edits with another WIP. Reading. Taking up a new hobby. It's all about distractions.

But it still only dulls the pain. You kind of have to learn to live with until it's over.

Catherine M. said...

You're so amazingly honest in your blogs...

I have a partial out to two agents (my first novel), so every day is pretty much an emotional roller coaster. To try and maintain my sanity--and that of my family--I do the following:

Write - my blogs, two works-in-progress, grocery lists...anything, everything to keep my mind focused on something other than my inbox.

Exercise - I'm up to working out four times a week at the gym. That really helps release nervous energy.

Daydream - quite a decent amount of what-ifs going around in my head at any given moment. From potential characters/stories to pretending I'm being interviewed on my first novel! Hey, if you're gonna dream...

And I say thank you whenever I can - to my husband for his support and for reading my manuscript 'just one more time', to my kids for putting up with mommy's need for 'silence for just a blessed few minutes, please!", to other writers in my critique group, to anyone who offers me words of encouragment. Including you, because your blog has offered me more encouragement than you know. So, thank you.

R.J. Anderson said...

I try to keep busy with other things. Not necessarily writing, because I'm a spree writer who needs time to recharge between creative bursts. But SOME sort of project that will give me a sense of accomplishment, even if it's just cleaning the house or tidying up my hard drive.

I'm still listening for the phone every second and checking my e-mail with fanatical regularity, but at least I'm getting other stuff done as well...

J.J. Bennett said...

Waiting is what I'm looking forward to. I just want it to be done! I want to polish it up, make it sparkle, and show it off. Once it's out of my hands I hope I'll feel like I can breathe.

I know this is random but has anyone written about these strange word verification words? They drive me nuts.

Gemma Noon said...

Not well, usually. I'm in the UK so everything is still by paper submissions here. The postman started avoiding the house when I was home because I gave him the evil eye every time he delivered the mail.

I'm doing okay this time. But then, it's been 24 hours so far. I'll let you know next week. In the meantime, I'm busy with an interview blog so I don't have to think about aubmissions.

Best thing to do is keep busy and try to forget about it. Unfortunately, I've never figured out how.

Arabella said...

I'm so busy as a matter of course, that it's easy to keep my mind off my WIP during the day. At night, though, when all the little children are tucked in their beds, then I start panicking. And praying.

Anonymous said...

How I cope with waiting . . .

Art imitates life: Life imitates art. Right?

In creative writing for an audience, a crucial factor in engaging readers in the ever important immersion trance involves writing to a willing suspension of disbelief. There's more to it than that, like, willing suspension of disbelief is totally irrelevant when readers engage through a participation msytique. Call it involvement on an empathetic supernatural level akin to eager and fervid participation in a religious ritual.

Then there's immersion in a fictious secondary world, a third space of reader engagement, different from the primary world engagement of everyday existence.

So life imitating art as pertains to waiting, willing suspension of disbelief: I believe I've written as good a story as I can and it's up to the story to fly or fall on its own from the point of submission onward. Abandon the progeny to the vagaries of the cruel world. It's on its own.

Participation mystique: Counter that, nonparticipation mystique. If I'm actively engaged in mentally following the story through the submission process, I'm jinxing it. Same with telling anyone that I've submitted it. I keep the submission private, even from my conscious thoughts.

In a secondary world, the submission didn't happen. Then when the notice comes in, it's news, not necessarily good or bad, just news. If the news is, in fact, good. Then the broadcasting and celebrations may begin. If the news is, in fact, bad. C'est la vie. I've already moved on to bigger and better things anyway.

lynnrush said...

How do I cope with the waiting? Write, eat chocolate covered malted milk balls, and go for long bike rides (cycles) with my sweet hubby. :-)

This waiting stuff is part of the game, right? **smile**

Sunanda said...

Nathan,
You must really live by the dictum of trying hard not to make people wait, because you rejected my query in a total of 5 minutes from the time I pressed the Send button. LOL

Toni Kenyon said...

Nathan,
You must have the fastest response time (on a query) in the industry, which is a two edge sword as far as being the receiving author is concerned. At least while there is no response there is hope!

I just keep writing while I am waiting and remind myself that I am getting better with every written word.

Toni

Joan said...

I cope with it by knowing there ARE publishing professionals out there like you (and a handful of others) who do take this aspect seriously, who respect what it means to the fledgling writer.

THAT helps me wait.

Off to peek at my email :-)

Anonymous said...

I decide that I totally don't care and it was a stupid idea anyway, and in fact I'm so embarrassed that I sent that lousy thing that I hope I DON'T hear from them, because I'm just going to be so mortified if I have to send them pages and they see how awful it really is.

skywalker said...

Oh my goodness. Thank you. This is how I've been feeling for 6 weeks since my agent sent it out. I had no idea how long it takes...still really don't. I've checked my email a million times a day and every Sunday night I wonder if this will be the week...Just good to know it's somewhat normal behavior. In the mean time, I've found the best way to enjoy the time and not resent it passing is to start something completely new. Get my mind churning again, and believe it or not, get writing again. I already have a great new book beginning to take form. But I do get depressed every Friday at about 3pm when another week has gone by with NOT A WORD!! Thanks, Nathan, for the timely post.

Sean Cummings said...

I just keep on writing and I've often found booze helps.

karen said...

It has to be chocolate! In the summer I work in the yard. In the winter I drive everyone nuts. Fortunately, with a family the size of mine there's usually some crisis to take my mind off waiting. But when you asked for my next 30 last summer I about went nuts before you rejected it. the rejection was ok. I wasn't sure I really wanted that book out in the world, anyway, so I didn't care all that much. But boy, the suspense about killed.

Backfence said...

As an author pursuing an agent, I have to say it's nice to know there are agents out there who have walked in my shoes! Empathy is a good thing.

As for coping, you have to compartmentalize. Tuck that awareness that there's a query or manuscript out there waiting to be noticed, and get on with the writing (or, in your case, reading, "agenting," and blogging). It's not gonna happen any faster for the worrying!

Carol Bro

And, good luck, by the way!

Lori Benton said...

Faith. And falling in love with a new set of characters.

RLS said...

As I went to your blog today, I said a silent prayer hoping to read something relevant to what I'm going through. Did this post relate to my experience? I'll answer by quoting a fine literary icon: You Betcha.
I secured representation mid-July. After four months of revisions (working every chance I got) I was told on Sunday that I nailed it(finally)and we're ready to go out. Yippee.
Then today, my phone lost charge and I had to come home several hours early because being away from email was not an option for this control freak.
During the endless two weeks I waited for said agent to read the revisions, I did start a new project. I also bought rockin' boots, returned many phone calls and emails, read Charolette's Web to my kids and saw three movies in two days. (A serious Man, Where the Wild Things Are and Untitled.)I've been reading in my genre, searching for a new school for my kid and scheduling flu shots.
Also--I've googled my agent and first choice dream editor, even though I know their entries by heart.
And let's not forget responding to blogs (aka boring strangers with the mundane details of my life.)
But don't be fooled. What I'm really doing is ... waiting.

Mystery Robin said...

Currently, I stalk the "good news" section of the Blueboards. :)

Linnea said...

Watch too much tv, eat too much chocolate, chew off my fingernails.

Lady Glamis said...

Thanks for sharing this, Nathan. I must say that you are super fast and very kind to the writers who query you. Do agents ever get restless waiting for a writer to finish something or to get back to them with an answer?

pjd said...

What do you mean, waiting? There's waiting? I thought there were only noes. Like when you pay the carnie your three bucks to drop the five rubber bologna pieces onto the big white circle and there's always just that *one little slice* visible at the end. It's almost instant. There's no waiting. You pay your three bucks and within a minute it's, "Sorry, kid. Try again?" You know, you send off your manuscript and within a few minutes it's, "Sorry, kid. Try again?"

But if there's waiting, I'll relish every minute of it. That's what I'll do.

Heck, now that I know there's the promise of waiting, maybe I'll actually send my ms off to someone. (I don't play that rubber bologna game at carnivals, either.)

What I found truly shocking about your post, Nathan, was that the word "yes" turns out to be an adverb. I'd never thought about it. The plural "yeses" didn't look quite right, so I went to dictionary.com, and it told me "yes" is an adverb. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

You rejected me in minutes. I thought I would lose my ability to breathe.

I was pretty sure my novel is too silly for your sophisticated tastes. But I adore you and wanted you to choose me.

I (to my HORROR!) misused a word in the query. I also gushed. (Oh, somebody, save me from myself!)
Your rejection was so immediate, so fast, so thorough...

I felt like a flat little person for a while, walking around like one of those cartoon characters that had been hammered into a short SHORT person.
("Short People have NO reason to li-ive!" -Randy Newman)
W.O.W.

I made it through sending it out to eleven agents and then folded into a very small (small) version of myself.
And then I enlisted several beta readers, intelligent, really smart, very (VERY) smart, well-read beta readers, (one in the publishing industry) and including two men in their fifties.
They (sigh) (no, they were NOT on my payroll either) *loved* my novel.
But it was also full of typos: horsely instead of hoarsely/chlorophyll instead of chloroform. (I had to laugh and laugh: can you imagine someone being chlorophylled into an unconscious state???)

But, sadly, I am so fragile. I just wish I could sneak you a copy of my novel like I was some poor pathetic little cousin and get you to give me a little whisper about it.

But here I am, alone with my two years of love and devotion.
It is hard, Nathan. Very (VERY) hard.

(Thanks for sharing how hard it was for you too.)

T. Anne said...

I love you even more for this post. Waiting is tantamount to emotional torture. The best thing for me to do is understand it's not in my hands. Bottom line, I do not control the universe. *sigh* Such hard truths.

Jil said...

As long as my query is out at least there is hope, and I merrily continue with my next project. When my query is rejected almost as soon as I press the send button, there is no time for hope and I must immediately suffer a few days of funk. No fun at all.

Literary Cowgirl said...

I have 17 subs out to lit mags, right now. Every time I start getting anxious or a case of the crazies, I pull something else out, polish it, and send it off. I find the more I have to worry about, the less I do.

Arwen said...

I'm not sure I do cope, at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure that time drags me into the future while I simmer and stew and fret and fume....

RLS said...

Nathan,
One more thing, any stats out there re. how many submissions editors typically receive in a year ... and how many projects they buy?
I'm guessing that's too general a question, but still ...

wendy said...

Thanks for sharing this, Nathan. Interesting and hilarious. Glad the story had a happy ending. I'll let you know if Jacob is available over here in Aust.

These days I usually send off something and hardly give it another thought. I've been given the go-ahead to submit a synopsis and chapter (accompanied by about ten other things) to Pan MacMillan in Aust. It's no big deal in that I just emailed and asked if I could send the usual directly, and they email back I could and referred me to a web addie for further directions. This was about five months ago, and I haven't sent anything yet. I'm tossing up whether to self-publish over the internet. I've already done a cover for two children's stories and one for an adult novel, plus other illustrations, so perhaps I could release them as multimedia ebooks as I've also cimposed music a while ago.

Anonymous said...

Well THIS year, I finally got the courage to send out a few little things (under a PEN NAME!!!) (i.e.,not that much courage!)

I got two pieces published. I have two more under consideration.

For the first piece, I received 66cents.
(It was supposed to be a dollar, but Paypal took 34%)

Anonymous said...

Rejection may be worse than waiting.

Bridget said...

Um, you're probably going to hate me but I forget about it. (I keep records and always follow through but really, I forget about it.) Part of it is because my life is full and busy and part of it is because I've been in advertising for 25+ years.

Now THAT can wear you down.

wendy said...

Anon @ 4pm. I think you have talent! What you wrote was both touching and endearing.

Laura Martone said...

I must admit - that makes me feel a little better, Nathan. Especially since I have yet to play the waiting game. I'll get back to you when I have a bit of relevant experience under my belt.

In the meantime, congrats again!

Anonymous said...

The wait period for agents, anyway, seems to have shortened in the last couple years. I've never gotten anything positive after a wait over 3 weeks.
Indeed, even many of my rejects came within 24 hrs. The positives came within about a week, usually. I definately would always assume NO when you don't hear anything after a month. Move on, regardless of what the website says. if they think they can make $ off your work, they don't wait around.

karenbschwartz said...

I just love that you shared this with us, thanks!

Christine Pope said...

I just had my first novel accepted last week, so I'm still basking in the afterglow.

But usually I try to keep writing, although red wine and chocolate never hurts, either.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Wendy, thanks!
-Anon 4:oo

Jo said...

I just blogged about this very same subject. I called the waiting period, The Deathly Silence.
My agent sent out my manuscript at the beginning of September so it has not been a long time at all. I told myself not to expect to hear back from him until the end of November at the earliest, but of course I am still freaking out and worrying that it will never sell. It is the lack of control as you pointed out.And the blind faith that someone else besides you truly truly loves the book and will do his utmost to find a home for it.
All I can do to deal with the waiting is to write something else. I'm almost 60,000 words in now and my fingernails have almost all grown back.

Rowenna said...

How do I deal with waiting...first, I confessed to my husband that it was killing me. Acknowledging that it was killing me actually helped a lot! Then I got invested in working on a new book. I convince myself from time to time that I even like this one better than the one currently making the query rounds...and it's much more fun to write than it is to check my email for the 90th time today.

Anonymous said...

I have spent the better part of the last four years waiting for a yes from one gutsy editor. Given that my second agent continues to submit my second novel and yet I remain bookless, I consider waiting my second profession. A

t times I feel discouraged to the point of despair. The best way I have found to cope with the stress of waiting is to try to continually reaffirm my commitment to my vocation. I work harder, plunge deeper into my imagination, more ruthlessly mine my own inner life, and keep reading great works of literature. And I try to remember that in the long term the act of expressing oneself in language is a noble endeavor that has little to do with short-term personal gratification and the shallow pleasures of a consumer society.

Lisa Dez said...

That’s where I am right now…waiting on editors. And I have to say, I’m doing better than you. I’m three weeks in and not yet waking with anxiety attacks. Partly, that’s because my agent is a rockstar cheerleader (as I’m sure Catherine is) and always keeps me in the loop. Also, the loop has been good to me—we’ve got some early interest from some major houses, which calms the nerves some.

So, to fill the time, I write when my characters have something to say, and when they don’t I read—either my crit partner’s work or stuff from my insane TBR stack.

Susan Quinn said...

You broke after a week and a half??

I am doomed.

Just thinking about submissions makes those revisions look like all kinds of fun.

Susan at Stony River said...

I drink heavily, write more, drink more, repeat as necessary, LOL.

The waiting I've learned to deal with over the years. Now it's seeing the editor's name pop up in my Inbox that kills me, especially if there's no clue in the subject line (such as RE: The Submission) It takes the world's longest second for that e-mail to open, while I want to look and I don't want to; I want to know and I don't.

Suddenly I can sympathise with the condemned as they watch the executioner raise the axe, inch by inch. GAH.

I wish subject lines said Yes/No/Revise and that's it LOL.

Amalia T. said...

I'm actually okay with the waiting. After the first day, I kind of forget that I've put something out there, and I only get the periodic sinking feeling when something reminds me. Obviously less wait is always preferrable, but it's something I can live with.

Steph Damore said...

As I said on Debra Schubert's blog last week:

I clean out my closet (literally); paint the kitchen and living room; wash the floors, scrub the bathtub and clean the kitchen sink; quilt; read; and workout.

Good luck and here's to hearing good news!

Indigo said...

When I first started writing, an author friend told me right off the bat, "You're going to learn patience."

Who me? The woman who can't stand waiting in line.

You learn. I just keep writing in the interim. If nothing else, the next one out has to be better - right? (Hugs)Indigo

Christina Davis said...

Always fun to read your honest, witty posts. I told my son Jacob about your book. He's 8 1/2. His eyes grew big when I mentioned corn dog, spaceship, universe broken. "Oh, we've got to get that one." Consider one book sold!

Jemi Fraser said...

Cope? We're supposed to cope? Really???

I try to obsess about my day job instead :)

Eden Glenn said...

We drive our agents crazy with our neurotic second guessing.

The best answer is to write the next book.

I write because I am. So I will write the next book.

I also drive my family crazy with my neurotic second guessing.

Rick Daley said...

Waiting is easier if you know how long it will be. I'll wait a month if I'm expecting to wait a month. But if I'm expecting to wait a week and it takes a month, the only way to counter that is to go insane for a short while.

I have multiple works in progress and one that I'm working with an agent on, so when I'm waiting on feedback on that one, I shift focus to another MS.

Adam Heine said...

Write something else.

A week and a half is pretty good, actually. For me, I'm refreshing my e-mail within the hour.

When nothing shows up, I ask my wife if I can check hers.

Trish said...

I keep working on other projects or editing the one I’ve submitted, but my stomach turns over when I check my emails.

It’s great to know you understand. Thanks for the honesty and good luck, sounds like a great book.

Cassandra said...

The only thing I find that helps is to work on something else. Get so immersed in another book that when those no's come in you can look at them and say, 'forget you, i've got this new novel and it's going to be even better!'

Seriously, more work is always good.

And if yes's come in, that's just icing on the cake!

Josin L. McQuein said...

I lurk on Absolute Write and read how others are selling or waiting to sell or getting agents and assure myself that there are still people out there buying books. Or I go through the peer crit section there and work on someone else's problems for a while - it's very therapeutic.

Marilyn Peake said...

Congratulations again on the upcoming publication of JACOB WONDERBAR! Your post today struck a strong emotional chord with me, and it’s my personal favorite of all your posts so far.

I’ve done lots of different things while waiting to hear back from agents and publishers. For a long time, before I got onto the Internet and before agent blogs became popular, I didn’t have the slightest clue how to find reputable agents, so I self-published a couple of novels that were later published by an indie press. I then went on to have eleven more projects accepted by the same indie press. While waiting for my next publication to come out, I usually started writing my next project and submitted my published works to contests and reviewers, worked on book promotion projects and updated my website, traveled and did other fun stuff.

I’m at a different point now. I recently finished writing a very complicated time-travel science fiction novel, with distinct voices for individual characters, that I really believe in. I’ve received great responses to it. While waiting to hear back about the next step, I feel sad at times and have entertained the idea of walking away from writing forever. I’ve returned to exercising on the treadmill, reading, organizing my house, and framing some of the thousands of photographs I’ve taken over the years. I also say, Damn it!! while reading certain emails and have significantly decreased the amount of time I spend on the Internet. I’m also hoping to travel again soon. And I spend time with family, as I also do when working on book projects.

Josin L. McQuein said...

ROFL -- had to add a post about the verification word:

Shous -- the phrase every writer dreads after the betas are done. "Don't tell us, Shous!"

Jen Chandler said...

Ah yes, the waiting. I try to forget about it (yeah...right) and keep myself busy. And check my email. And pray. And wonder and worry and fret. Yeah, turns out I'm not good at waiting either :)

Jen

(funny my word verification is "batty". sums up how I feel playing the waiting game.)

Tabitha said...

I have patience in droves. My friends find it incredibly annoying, but I can't help it. That said, even I can't sit on my hands and wait for responses to come back. It's torture.

So I write something else. The project that's out there may not be my breakout novel. And if it's not, then I need to get to work writing that breakout novel. Otherwise I'm never going to get what I want, and that's just unacceptable. So I keep my annoyingly cool, calm, and collected head in future work, with plans running in the background for the work I can't sell right now. :)

j said...

You cope because you have no choice, and for all the talk of being partners, at this point, there is no balance of power. Welcome to our world.

Lucinda said...

Clicking the forever-sent send button on a submission made my heart race wildly with anticipation and hope.

It is done. No way to snatch back the submission from cyberspace. I start to read it again to see if I missed something. No, it is done. It cannot be brought back no matter how terrible it is.

Shut down the computer, now! Go to bed early tonight. It has only been minutes, no one has even seen it yet. Go to sleep. Ticking of the clock grows louder and louder until it sounds like a drumb beating in my head.

Finally, the alarm goes off. Time to go to work. Late again? But I must check my email before I leave.

Nothing.

Working will take my mind off it. Not a chance. Telling co-workers that I really don't expect to get an agent on the first try anyway doesn't help because...because...I DO EXPECT it.

Rush-hour traffic is worse today or could it be that I have to hurry home. Before today, rush-hour traffic was a golden opportunity to meditate, plot, plan and edit in my head. Ideas buzzed while there was nothing I could do but wait.

Fumbling with the keys, I open the door and drop everything. Internet is extra sluggish. Finally!

Nothing!

Dejected, I write something to push aside the anticipation without expectation in hopes that tomorrow will give some assurance that I am not loosing my mind. I really am a writer.

Months turn into years as I rewrite the original MS enough times to know that the first rejection letter was very merciful.

Alas, it is...ready...again.

But, I must.go.through.it.one.more.time.

J. R. McLemore said...

Yes, waiting is the hardest part. I submitted a short story to a magazine and waited nearly six months for a rejection. In that time, I sent four different stories to different magazines and received news back from them before I ever heard from the first magazine. I've sent another story off to them, but this time, I'm not going to sit anxiously by the computer for a response. I'm working on a novel instead. Also, I received word from one magazine that my story made the short list. This news came exactly one month since I submitted it. Unfortunately, that was four months ago. I almost think they forgot about me or lost the story, but then I remember that I almost gave up on that first submission. Patience is a hard, but necessary thing for a writer to learn.

Other Lisa said...

As I recall, I left the country a few times...

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your blog on waiting! So timely--my agent sent my novel out nine days ago... and I'm scrambling to cope in many of the ways others describe.

Can you say more about what's happening during this period from the agent's perspective?

What are you doing during the time the writer is doing nothing but wait? Are you getting back any response at all from editors? When do you call/email them? When someone shows interest, and the book is out to a number of editors, what do you do? How long is too long?

And, as an agent, how do you feel about client's emails? Can I write my agent after a few weeks and just check in? Or is that annoying and I should just keep quiet?

Burning questions...
Thanks so much for your amazingly informative blog!

Lucinda said...

***dumb drum***

Pamala Knight said...

LOL! It's nice to know that you can sympathize with the huddled masses, Nathan. Thank you for the hilarious post.

Emily White said...

I do a lot of writing and a lot of playing CIV to get my mind off of it. If I didn't do this, I'd check my mail twenty times a day instead of two or three.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

The worst are the agents who say 'if you don't hear from us in x amount of time, we passed'.

I always wonder, Well maybe they just didn't get it??!

I try to just work and not think about it ten thousand times day.
I also listen to a lot of music!

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Agents definitely have to wait too, and while we can follow-up periodically and nag, ultimately there's not a huge amount we can do to speed up the process.

Emily-

I have a seriously weakness for CIV.

Nathan Bransford said...

Oops - "serious"

David said...

If I could frame a blog post, I would frame this one.

Um, as for coping, well, I don't cope well.

Might as well be honest.

Tori said...

I'll be honest: I have never sent anything out to an agent or editor. I plan to change that. I am currently participating in Nano, so I'll be revising soon. That makes me slightly sick to think about it, but excited as well. Maybe when I make this book the best it can be I'll start querying agents.

What will I do to cope? I'll start working on my next project. That's the only thing I can do to keep myself sane. Now I can't say I won't worry, but I do think it will help.

Karen Schwabach said...

Well, I nag people, of course.

If that doesn't work I switch to carpentry. It's amazing how calming getting pieces of wood to behave squarely and evenly can be.

CKHB said...

I blog.

Jana said...

I drive my alpha reader and my best friend insane. They are the only two people I allow myself to vent to. ::laugh:: In return, they get a lot of Starbucks trips -- and a willing ear when they need it.

hollywoodclown said...

Sending query letters to agents is new to me but going to auditions as an actor is not. After an audition you don't hear back from the casting director unless they want to see you again. I go, do the best audition I can, don't think about it again and concentrate on the next audition. I do the same for submitting to literary agents. I press "send", start researching the next lit agent I want to submit to or work on some other aspect of my book that needs my attention.

Keep moving forward. A rolling stone gathers no moss!

beckylevine.wordpress.com said...

I've only found one thing that helps--keep writing on something else. So have you started the next book yet? :)

Paul said...

I try to keep writing. I was pretty successful with this during the query process. Now I have an agent and my manuscript is on submission. It's been about a week now and I'm doing pretty good with staying focused but definitely am more distracted than during the query process.

Tracy Hahn-Burkett said...

Oh my God, Nathan, you know that now EVERYONE will want you to be his or her agent--if that wasn't already true!

I'm still drafting my novel, so I'm still coping with the angst of traveling from "I absolutely CAN write the book I mean to write and it will, after a couple of dozen drafts, be every bit as good as I mean for it to be" to "What in the world makes me think I can write anything more meaningful than my grocery list?" and back again in ten minutes or less. You mean it gets worse than this?

Seriously, it's nice to know that someone who knows the biz as well as you do can get just as anxious on the artistic end of things as the rest of us. Thanks for writing this post.

Oh, and when all else fails: chocolate.

Gordon Jerome said...

gordon-

I went back and put a link in the main post that provides the whole story. JACOB WONDERBAR is a middle grade novel about three kids who trade a corndog for a spaceship, blast into space, break the universe, and have to find their way home.


Thanks. And I hope it does well. It sounds like a very interesting story. If it comes out on Kindle or Nook, I'll be sure to get a copy.

SZ said...

Agreed. A personal best in posting today me thinks.

Posing / posting ! lol

Marilyn Peake said...

I should have mentioned one more thing I’ve done while waiting on book news. I submitted my fantasy short story entitled BRIGHT MOON, set in modern-day China, to a blog mentioned in one of Nathan’s earlier blog posts: the GLASS CASES Blog run by a very nice and talented publishing industry assistant. I was delighted when it was accepted for publication there! Here’s a link to the short story. Hope it’s OK that I mentioned this here. :)

SZ said...

Word verification cold be a fin weekend blot too.

Creative A said...

Work on other projects. That is the best, and one of the rare, methods that actually dissolve the stress. It's like finding a hobby. You have to take your mind off the submission, or it will kill you. Trying to forget doesn't work so good...you have to find something else that takes up your interest.

I'm really thinking of all those times as a kid when I mailed in cereal box tops for and extra special cool toy, and then had to wait, and wait, and wait for it to come. I used to play all sorts of games to make myself forget about it. The best way was to pretend it had never happened and do something else, so when the toy finally came, it was a huge an awesome surprise.

Still works. :)

-Mandy

Michael said...

I continue checking my email and hoping. I search for new agents interested in my genre.

And as a P.S., let me say that I'm very appreciative of your quick responses. Even though they haven't been (so far) what I was hoping to hear, they allowed me to move forward. I appreciate that very much.

Michael

Joseph L. Selby said...

I'm absurdly connected, so I try to combat the compulsion to check email with logic. The only time I get an email and don't know it is if I'm asleep, in a movie theater, or on the subway. As such, I try to ignore the impulse to check. I generally split that time between working on other projects and resenting everyone who hasn't gotten back to me yet. ;)

suzie townsend said...

This was a great post for all the writers out there :)

Kaitlyne said...

Okay, I haven't sent out submissions yet so I don't know how relevant my advice will be, but I'm a worrier in general and I tend to stress over anything I have to wait on. I've improved a lot over the past couple of years, however.

Basically, what's worked best for me is finding good, relaxing activities. When I get stressed out, for instance, I love to sit down with a good book and just read for a little while. It gives me a chance to get away and usually is interesting enough that I find myself thinking more about that in my spare time that whatever I'm worrying about.

I also have taken up martial arts, and that's the best stress reliever I've found yet. It's just the sheer physical activity that does it. Ever since I started I've found it much easier to relax and my stress doesn't build up. So I definitely recommend sports as a good way to deal with stress.

It's nice to hear that even someone who "knows better" would have the same reaction that the rest of us do. Just knowing other people feel the same way helps.

Joshua said...

Whiskey and exercise. Never at the same time, but always a lot of both. In truth, I keep my expectations low, just knowing that I'll never get even a rejection response, and when I get even a rejection letter, expectations are surpassed. I think it's the background in theatre that helps with the rejection. I just shrug it off and go on with my day.

-Joshua

JDuncan said...

Actually, I found coping with submitting reasonably easy. Yes, I checked my emails regularly the first couple of weeks after sending out to agents. I tempered this potential anxiety with the expectation that the answer would be no. I found this to be, while certainly not the most optimistic view, far more realistic since I knew full well the odds were heavily stacked against me. Then, I had the fortune of getting a yes.

While knowing full well that everything in publishing happens at what could kindly be described as glacial, I discovered my excitement and anxiety were far greater waiting for things to happen once the yes had been confirmed. It is far different I discovered to have anticipation over something that might happen, maybe, if you're really fortunate, compared to knowing things will happen and having to wait for them to do so.

However, it's a far better sort of anxiety than the vast unknown of the submission process. So, I ponder my next story and wait, knowing full well that things haven't even approached being slow, yet.

therese said...

One time I put a manuscript in the mail and the following week my hubby was in a major car crash.

By the time my manuscript came back, I'd forgotten I sent it. But hubby was improving and when I opened the envelope the editor said: "Has merit, I recommend you submit to..."

If you don't want to taking care of someone else to become distracted, start a new project. You may be an agent but writers WRITE!

Grimmster24 said...

Since I am still finishing my novel-to-be before querying agents, I can only speak from experience with freelance writing. What do I do while waiting to be accepted by magazines?

1) Check the mailbox obsessively every day (often preceded by staring out the window waiting for the mailman),

2) check my Gmail every half an hour

3) pour over the list of submissions I've made, trying to figure out which magazines will reject me for a certain month (I'm just being realistic about the above-average possibility of said "NO", haha).

But honestly? I also read lots of blogs, like yours. I guess it helps take the edge off this nerve-wracking business to know that somehow, sometime, something positive WILL happen.

Lisa R said...

When I first started querying THREE AND A HALF YEARS AGO the waiting was horrible. I used to check my email every ten seconds for responses but now I just pretend that I didn't query at all. That way when I get an email it's a pleasant surprise. I too work on other projects. Actually in the three years I've been querying for my first book, I've written another and am now querying for that one as well. What really calmed me down with the waiting was realizing that even when an agent LOVES your book, they still are not going to sign you so it kind of made me resigned to the waiting. I heard things like, "your book is a home run", "your book is compelling and gripping", "you're a great writer, this is really great stuff" and "I couldn't stop thinking about your book for WEEKS after I read it" and yet none of those agents have signed me. Two of them are still deciding and I pepper them once every 2 months with a reminder email that says hey I'm still here, remember me, you loved my book and you said you'd put together some notes for me? Nothing ever happens. So now the waiting doesn't bother me at all. I've moved on with my life. I keep writing books and keep querying and focus on things besides the fact that I'm waiting. I figure that if most of the agents who read my work like it that much eventually, someday, someone will sign me. There might be a kid out there somewhere right now who is going to grow up to be my future literary agent (LOL) as long as the publishing industry doesn't go in the toilet before that. I used to be really anxious but now when I see I have an email from an agent it's not even the first one I read.

Renee Pinner said...

I'm not nearly as far along in this process, but I love you blog. I think the main reason I love it is that you are so very human and down to earth. This post proves it. I sincerely hope that your wait is nearly over!

Lora T. said...

Wow, I'm impressed that you made it a week and a half. Every time I send out an e-mail and I'm anxious for a reply (even if it's something way less important than a query) I compulsively check my e-mail every few minutes in between checking Facebook.

Andrea Cremer said...

Also cracked within a week and a half, decided I was a failure, consoled myself by reading stories of authors I admired who were rejected...then my book sold. And I realized how crazy I'd gotten while in the waiting room.

Beth Terrell said...

1) Tell self that this book is good, and the agent will surely love it.
2) Tell self that this book sucks, and the agent will regale his/her friends and co-workers with stories about the horrible-ness of it.
3) Remind self that Jim Rollins found his agent on his 40th query, another published friend found one on query 60.
4) Add to list of 100 agents who accept novels in my genre.
5) Color code list of agents, based on order of preference.
6) Tell self that the agent I submitted to will probably not be interested, and that's okay because he/she probably wasn't the right agent for me anyway.
7) Tell self that the rejection I'm sure to get doesn't necessarily mean the book is awful. Maybe the agent has a full load/has a stomach ache/has already signed a similar book/doesn't like books with pickup trucks in them.
8) Work on next book.
9) Work on marketing first book(published by tiny press), while assuring self that acceptance by said tiny publisher means I am a good writer, even though the agent I submitted to will almost certainly reject my manuscript.
10) Daydream about the wonderful relationship I will have with the agent when he/she accepts my book--and how much money my book will make for both of us.
11) Check email and mailbox obsessively.
12) Tell everyone that nothing will probably come of the submission, while secretly hoping that it will.
13) Read articles about great authors who were rejected multiple times and went on to become enormously successful.
14) Repeat above coping strategies as needed.

Polenth said...

I've not submitted a novel, but with short stories, I just got used to waiting. You have to, as you need to write the next one immediately.

I'm hoping that's good practise for novel waiting.

Josh said...

The time machine has been a big help.

Anonymous said...

Just do your thang, don't wait for nobody.

Write. Submit. Repeat.

That goes for after you sell, too. Just keep it up: Write, submit, repeat.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Nathan,
I've followed your blog for a long time (Pre-Twitter even!). I've enjoyed your blog posts immensely. This may not have been your best blog post, but it's the one that got a real "LOL" out of me. Thanks for opening up and sharing that!

I TRY to follow the advice I heard shared by a successful author at a writer's conference who'd gotten the advice from HER agent.... "Go out and write ANOTHER great book."

Easier said than done. I feel that if, during the wait time, I've neither killed nor maimed anyone nor broken off relations with my entire network of friends and family, I've been successful at waiting!

Annette Lyon said...

No advice. I'm just snickering because this post brought me joy for an agent to see the other side of the fence for once. :D

Anonymous said...

Just curious, did the idea for the name come from looking at Wonderbra? Cuz that'd be funny.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

No, it came from here. Sorry to disappoint!

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't cope well. I had a couple of partials asked for (and countless "no's") and actually had positive comments from one place. But...now I'm losing interest in the story and the idea of reworking it at the editing phase makes me feel...bleh.

and I'm on a different idea now. So I feel like dumping it and moving on.

Is this normal??? I hope I'm not blowing it. I really feel like it was never going to be picked up. I'll have to be anonymous because I'm feeling a bit embarassed...

Jenaelha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meghan Ward said...

Thanks for sharing this, Nathan!

Leis said...

Nathan, you're a star for sharing this very personal side of you. Sure wish I could snag you as my agent :)

(Ha, WV is 'bahshen' -- think the Goddess of Acceptance is laughing her head off at me?)

Donna Hole said...

LOL; welcome to the ranks of the wannabe writer Nathan. Thanks for sharing your experiences as a writer, as well as an Agent.

Maya Panika said...

I don't.

Or, I do, for a bit, then it starts to wear me down. 10 weeks after I sent the full ms, it's getting seriously depressing, I'm re-submitting to other agents today, at least that way, I feel I'm doing something.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Omigosh I've been going nuts! I've been trying to keep the email off and schedule a lot of time out of the house away from my computer so I don't keep checking for messages. I've lost two pounds because I'm too nauseated to eat. And this is just with several agents reviewing my manuscript! I'm hoping it will be better when it's going to editors, but based on your post I guess that's just wishful thinking ...

Claude Forthomme said...

Gee, Nathan, your blog was great and got everybody going! You pressed a button and an avalanche of suggestions poured out - I wonder which ones seemed most useful to you? Eat chocolate (yesss,mmm, but sooo fattening...)? Start another writing project?
That's what most people suggested.
It seems to me you're very, very busy as it is! I'm sure if you go back to agenting you forget the writing...I've done that practically all my life (I mean hold a full time job and write at night and week-ends) and it has helped me never to worry about waiting (I actually FORGET there's someone out there I'm supposed to hear from...)
For me,the worst is not the waiting, it's the REJECTION!
So you know what? After I've finished a novel, I stop writing altogether - sometimes for long periods, up to several months - and...PAINT! I paint anything: landscapes, portraits, horses...It's so much better than either writing or reading: A TOTAL CHANGE!Sports is probably also another excellent escape route...

Maya / מיה said...

It's great to hear about the process from your perspective as both a writer and an agent... it gives what you say extra credibility and relatability!

Karen Mahoney said...

Nathan, I've always loved reading your blog, but now I love it EVEN MORE. I wish you would write more about your journey as a writer & the 'path to publication'. Because you understand the whole process from BOTH sides, and that's so valuable. :)

My editor is also a writer (with his debut novel coming out the same year as mine!) and I think it's brilliant. I love that!

GhostFolk.com said...

JACOB WONDERBAR is a middle grade novel about three kids who trade a corndog for a spaceship, blast into space, break the universe, and have to find their way home.

Nathan, "break the universe"!

Too fun. Vonnegut would be proud (and mad he didn't think of it).

Anonymous said...

I had a book that did sell in a week and my breaking point came on day seven. Fortunately, my wonderfully profession and experienced agent help me navigate the experience. To pass the time as I waited, I rubbbed calamine lotion on the hives that started on day one.

Sissy said...

Yes, waiting isn't for the faint of heart, is it? While I haven't actually sent out and queries or submissions, my husband and I are in the middle of the adoption process and are waiting to be matched with a baby. Waiting is a mind game, at best.

Ally said...

I have a full and a partial out with agents, and waiting is ridiculously hard.

I distract myself by being a glutton for punishment: Team Mom for my son's hockey team. Working tirelessly to please difficult people is always a fun time.

Thermocline said...

I try to pretend I'm not getting antsy to hear something ... anything.

It never works.

Anonymous said...

I eat lots of chocolate. If I don't receive a positive response by the end of this week, I should be a shoe in for next season's The Biggest Loser.

Anonymous said...

I've got a full out with an un-named agent right now. It's been there since June. In June she "loved" the first three chapters and just wanted to let me know in case I got any other offers. In July she was "loving" the middle and wanted me to know in case I got any offers. In September she emailed me, didn't mention if she'd finished the ms or not, but asked if I'd gotten any other offers. It's now November.

How do you cope? It goes in stages. At first you are thrilled for the attention, and willing to wait. Then you are stunned its "still" being considered, so that's a smallish comfort, and then after six months you're convinced the agent is an idiot or is just waiting for you to get another agent offer so they can swing in and make one as well -- which means the agent doesn't really know what "I love this manuscript" means.

There is no "coping," you just move on. Also, you tell all your writer friends so they can avoid that agent.

Ginger*:) said...

Email... Check
Mail Box... Check

Ego..... unCheck

Janet said...

I am glad to read that writers aren't the only ones who have trouble coping with the waiting. I am very impatient. I check my mail constantly. What makes it worse is that some publishers don't notify you now if they are not interested, so I may never get that email that I'm waiting for. A simple form letter would be nice and not time consuming. thanks for giving us the chance to vent.

Bruce said...

Since I'm waiting for so many things that have not as yet arrived, I find a five hour nap really breaks up the day. But what is this CIV of which you speak?

Enchanted Crystals said...

Waiting sucks, true. But NEVER hearing is way worse. Especially from agents and editors who have requested fulls.

These are the people I really want to slap because it's a clear message that they believe their time is more valuable than mine.

If I take the time to research what you represent, read interviews about your preferences, study your guidelines and send you polished pages, then have the decency to at least tell me to take a hike.

Of course, this didn't happen with you, Nathan. But so many would rather twitter than send a form letter rejection to an author.

Barbra Annino

Marilyn Peake said...

A few minutes ago, I finished reading all the comments in this thread. It feels great to realize exactly how NOT alone I am in the writing/publishing game. And now to return to my scheduled avoidance tactics for today: working out on the treadmill and framing photographs. I’ve discovered that some of the thousands of photographs I’ve taken over the last twenty years have started to fade. I am horrified! I understand that it’s now possible to scan photographs into the computer or work directly from the negative, bump up the colors and print out a brand new photo. If I do that with all my photographs, I may have discovered a rather long-lasting, time-intensive avoidance technique to engage in while waiting on book-related matters. :)

Janny said...

Nathan-

I just LOVED this post. A week and a half! And your poor wife, waking up to see you babbling...I feel yoah pain!

Now you know why it's taking me so long to work up the courage to query you. :-)

JB

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Nathan, I recently sent a query your way and you were amazingly fast with your response, even though it was a rejection. While I appreciated the speed of it (you are true to your word there), I still wish even one line could be dedicated to the reason for the rejection. It's hard to know where to turn after a "not right for us" response. And as you know, so much work occurs even before our query comes to be. I know it's tough on your end too but I wish there were a way for you to give us rejects one main, specific reason for rejection. Anyway, it is heartening to know you understand the waiting and possible rejection. I have no doubt you will do well. You are already in the public eye fairly prominently so that will go a long way in drawing the interested eyes of book buyers. I wish you luck in both author and agent pursuits.

Emily White said...

Nathan,

Tell me about it! CIV is the greatest game in the history of games. I'm doomed to sit in my chair for at least three and a half hours if I dare start a game. And I always win. Mwahahahaha! Is it sick that I derive pleasure in my opponents begging for mercy as I surround their last city with my mechanized infantry? Probably. :o

Fawn Neun said...

Welcome to MY world, Nathan.

Pam said...

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish
something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will
pass anyway; we might just as well put that
passing time to the best possible use."
— Earl Nightingale

susiej said...

I eat a lot of chocolate. Then I run- hard. I sleep in a mouthguard. I've almost started wearing it when I'm on the computer. I also keep writing and I keep querying, entering contests, etc. Waiting sucks but the outcome is worth waiting for and worth trying again.

I wish more agents were like you. I know you get just as many, if not more, queries than other agents; yet you respond. Thanks!

Candice said...

I sounds like going through the process of being a writer is making you a very sympathetic agent.

ryan field said...

"How do you cope with the waiting?"

It's something that comes with time and experience. And it doesn't come easy either.

I know that sounds too simple. But once you consciously understand there's no other choice, it becomes a way of life.

Patrice Kavanaugh said...

Great blog. Refreshing honesty from someone "in the game." I wait it out the same way I wait out other news. I stay busy...with writing, yes, but also with the other parts of my life. I keep "writing" in perspective. It's the best way for me to cope. Patrice

Eric said...

Seriously...and sadly...I stopped submitting and these days just write. It's very easy to deal with the wait when there is nothing to wait for.

By the way, Wonderbar does sound great, so I suspect it is. That said, I got to think that in your heart of hearts you must know that to be true. And doesn't that make the waiting easier?

No? I know.

Robena Grant said...

I just kiss the ms. goodbye and forget about it. My expectations are low, so I never wait.

A few days before the response arrives (which may be months later)I have a sixth sense about the thing and start thinking, re-reading it, checking mail, email, going to the website of the agent. It's creepy, almost like I KNOW the rejection is on its way. : )

John said...

It's strange but I don't really get that angsty. The whole thing is so subjective that I don't get too upset or overly worry about rejection.

I check my email maybe once a day since I have a completely separate account I use for my writing business.

I suppose if I actually get an agent for my novels then I might worry about it selling to a publisher. Until then, I enjoy life and don't let this drag me down. It's not the end of the world.

Word verification: heing - the act of being a male.

georgiamcbridebooks said...

Thanks for sharing. Your posts are always so smart and well written. Having said that, I am quite neurotic and I HATE waiting--for anything. So, I put my energy into something new, whether a novel or totally different endeavor. On the email side, checking never helps, as it is true what they say about a watched pot. So, I've decided to put sound alerts on my Blackberry. This way, I'll know when an email comes in from someone I've queried. If my Blackberry makes a certain noise, I race to read it. Whatever the news, I"m prepared to read it as I know what it is--a response to my query. I've made the waiting easier for myself this way. As long as the Blackberry is silent, my life continues at it's normal pace. Inside, I'm freaking out.

Sliding on the Edge said...

I'm very cool while waiting. No one would even know I was waiting. Really. No one. I simply set up a small tent next to the mailbox and stay there until I get a response.

stacy said...

I deal with it the way I deal with most anxiety: I eat my students' candy.

Scott said...

How do you cope with the waiting?

I basically engage in activities that help me forget it's even out there. May I suggest a single malt?

MisterChris said...

Doggone it, Nathan, you've done it now.

I've got to go crank up some Tom Petty because I've got that song running through my head,

The way-ya-ting is the hardest part!

It really is. I cope by writing. And more writing. And, may I also say, a bit of writing?

Onward and upward - I've got 4 more ms to refine and polish while way-ya-ting for a response.
:-)

Erin said...

I tend to overeat. Or vomit. Like I did in the car on the way to my very first workshopping experience.

stacy said...

Hah - it's funny because I just found out I made the final cut in Stuart Neville's Ghosts of Belfast contest and instead of getting ready for school, I'm obsessively checking into Twitter to see if I have any votes.

If I ever thought I'd be cool about this sort of thing, I was wrong.

Gretchen said...

Write something new.

Brandi Schmidt said...

This blog post is so perfect for me today! I completed my MS yesterday. Sending queries this week and I guess gonna overeat, nap, cry, spazz, and write (not nessessary in that order).

I am an optimist; I think the best way to live is never believing you’ll fail. Maybe if I can keep that momentum it won’t be so bad.

Gina said...

Let me tell you, it doesn't help -- though I know they're sincerely trying to help -- when family and friends are all chorusing, "Your book needs to be out there so people can read it and learn something important," etc. I know they mean well. But it takes all the grace of God in my heart to keep from shouting, "I KNOW! WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO ABOUT IT???"

Melanie Avila said...

Nathan, it's great (for us) to hear that you understand. Not that I wish the waiting on anyone.

I bet your clients are loving how prompt you are!

Samantha Grace said...

Thank you for sharing, as others have said. I cope by staying busy and by telling myself this is the fun part of being a writer. Some day I'll be published and there will be deadlines, promotions, edits... Right now, I can just write and love every minute of it.

JenniferWalkup said...

What a great post. It's nice to know that someone "in the biz" gets as crazy with the process as us lowly no-name writers.:)

JenniferWalkup said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...

Ah, this is a rather endearing post. And empathic. :)

When I'm waiting for something I really, really want, I engage in an extremely mature and rational discussion with the Universe. It starts with:

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,

Then I'll throw in a few bribes on the order of how good I'll be if I get this. Then I'll throw in a few threats about how bad I'll be if I don't. Then I'll move onto more sophisticated methods, like trying to make the Universe feel guilty and/or sorry for me, so it will give me what I want. If I really want it, I'll throw in a bargain: give me this, and I'll recycle all my water bottles. Forever.

Then, when I've exhausted all the other options, I go back to begging:

Please, please, please, please, please.

I haven't measured the effectiveness of these methods, but they must work, because I continue to apply them every time.

Dawn Hullender said...

I only have one question...

How the heck did you manage to make it a week and a half?

It's been less than 24 hours since I had a publisher tell me he was interested in my novel and I'm checking email every ten minutes!

What's the secret to your patience?

quillfeather said...

Waiting is like having your teeth extracted without pain relief. Need I go on...

Good post :)

Stephanie said...

Great timing since I have a book out on submission now :).

Two things have helped me in the past couple weeks (now I feel like a super star for having passed the week and a half point!):

1) Having a totally awesome, communicative agent who keeps me up to date and is always there if I need to check in.

2) Being insanely busy. Between the day job, starting additional freelance work, networking, etc., I'm can't find time to write on my next work-in-progress, let alone remember to freak out about being out on submission...

When #2 inevitably wears off and the freaking out seeps in no matter what, I'll be glad to have #1 - and two other projects in the works - to rely on.

Etiquette Bitch said...

nathan-nice to know you're human. seriously! how do i cope? i don't know, right now, i'm still coping with rejection + procrastination. currently building my platform so i can one day get published.

Tim Heath said...

Best advice I've been given, though not following to well at the moment, is to start writing your next best seller as soon as you send off a work to agents. That way you have something to hold onto when the standard rejection letters come.
One point though I'd like to make, realising it has probably been said before but I've not read all 197 comments, is that IS A QUICK RESPONSE ACTUALLY THE BEST ONE? In this I mean, a 5 minute NO as opposed to a one month NO lacks one thing - any HOPE for the author. Because while there is something out there, there is HOPE. It's HOPE that'll keep us believing in ourselves. Clearly hearing back in 5 minutes is better than never hearing, granted. But at least with a NO after one month it feels like they've considered the project - and it gave me a little hope in the mean time, even if the result was the same as the 5 minute response. I know the reason for the 5 minute responses, I do. I understand. But we all need some hope as well at the end of the day. Just my thoughts, and I realise I've said hope like a hundred times already...:-)

Lily Cate said...

By writing some more.
Really. I have a ms out with a few agents right now, and the only way to keep from hovering over the inbox is to write. Constantly.
At least I'll have a new first draft done by the end of the year.

Virginia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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