Monday, January 28, 2013

Q&A: Wait For It...

Dear Jeebies – What are you like when you’re waiting to hear back from your agent or editors on a submission? 

I am the most impatient person in the world. To cope with the waiting, I usually immerse myself in something else that I'm working on – and I'm always working on several things at once. If a shiny new idea catches my attention, that's even better. But all the while, in the back of my mind, I'm wondering and hoping. There's a song by Brett Dennen I've been listening to that talks about finding something to hold onto "to help you through the hard nights like a flask full of hope..." My flask full of hope contains my works-in-progress and my writing friends – and the feeling that anything can happen. 

I love the submission wait time. I feel as if the ball is in someone else’s court, and until I hear back, I’m totally free to let that project go from my mind and work on something else. It may be the least stressful part of the book-creation life cycle for me. Of course, by this time, I’m already stressing about the next project/idea/deadline.

I have a love-hate relationship with the waiting process. On the one hand, I'm as impatient as a 4-year-old at Christmas, and I hate feeling that way. But I also love the excitement that comes with that curiosity. It's kind of too bad that the publishing process can be so slow that sometimes, you've almost lost interest in a project by the time there's forward motion on it.

Sometimes, by the time a contract comes through and it's time to work on revisions with an editor, the manuscript seems like it was written by someone else. Often, I'm surprised by it. "Did I write that?!" And that's nice, I suppose. A little distance can give you a new perspective.

Okay, brace yourselves. I actually love having a manuscript Out There. It offers a sense of possibility, and that, to me, is such a thrill. I get caught up in the maybe of it all. Anything can happen.

I use this time to read. I (gasp!) clean a closet. I visit the bookstore. I meet a friend for lunch. I live outside my office for a bit. But always there is a hum of excitement underneath everything I do. That hopeful part of me that thinks today might bring with it a yes.

Leslie Muir, our guest Jeebie, has her own sub-strategy.

Well, after I hit send and begin the process of waiting, I calm my mind by staying occupied with other productive refreshing my email. I do this a lot because I believe in staying very refreshed. Then after some time has passed (maybe 3 minutes), I continue to engage my brain with other really important crunchy things, often an entire bag, or can. As weeks drag by and I've consumed, well, face-crammed an aisle's worth of crunchy things and begun to develop facial tics, I head out to the backyard and hurl expired fruit to the squirrels, aiming away from them, of course, because I'd never take out my frustrations on cute fuzzy squirrels--even though they pig out on all the birdseed and gnaw on my window sills, making tiny little teeth marks... Yes, for me, keeping the mind Zen-like is key when waiting freakin' forever for answers about submissions. Vodka is also good. I certainly hope this advice will prove helpful to others.

Leslie is the author of Barry B. Wary and The Little Bitty Bakery, Disney-Hyperion, and Gibbus Mooney Wants to Bite You and C. R. Mudgeon, Atheneum. To find out more about Leslie and her books, visit her website.

What about you
Zen master or nervous wreck – just how patient are you about your subs? We can’t wait to hear!


  1. I hate, hate. hate the wait.
    I try hard to focus on new projects, but am always filled with dread at the seemingly endless waiting and the possibility of rejection.
    After reading this post, I will try to adjust my thinking, looking at the wait as a positive time to reflect on the myriad possibilities for the next book.
    Or, possibly, I will just head out to the back yard with a bag of mushy fruit and a fifth of vodka as Leslie suggests.

    1. Uh oh...somebody better warn Marty's squirrels to look out! ;-)

  2. It has been a very long time since I have submitted anything because of the wait (ok and also because of the rejection). I am inspired to try,try, again this time with the mindset of the "maybe of it all." Thanks for the wisdom!

    1. Good luck, Lisa! We'll do some PBJeebie finger crossing for you. We're VERY experienced at it.

  3. Waiting for my agent's feedback is usually fairly quick! (I'm sure Janee will agree-- being that we share the same agent!) So there's little anxiety there. Waiting on editors take longer... and like Tammi, it's an exciting time full of hope! Though after 3 wks,... it's less exciting and more nerve wracking. After 6 wks, I put it out of my mind. I sent a new polished sub to Agent over the weekend... and anxiously awaiting comments! Will likely sub very very soon! SO EXCITED!!!! —Salina (don't know how to sign in as myself... and not Penguin, lol!)

    1. Salina, that is hilarious that you only know how to sign in as Penguin! ha!

      Yay for a polished sub! We hope the wait is short and sweet.

    2. I am interested in the wait, how do you get an agent? Or someone to look at your work?

    3. I am interested in the feeling of waiting, how does one go about getting an agent or having someone look at your work?