After a year of getting nowhere with agents, and following the advice of the editor who assessed the manuscript I was sending out, I decided that I would give publishers a try.
So far this year I have submitted to two publishers. The first sent an automatic reply to the submission saying that if I don’t hear from them within two weeks, then to consider them not interested. It’s been about nine months now, so I’d say they’re really not interested.
The second publisher’s response time can be anywhere from three weeks to six months. At eight months, a response to my follow up email advised that they were busy and hadn’t forgotten about my submission—proving that I will believe anything written in email form, and that although submitting to agents was a game full of rejection, submitting to publishers is just a game full of waiting.
If, like me, you’re playing the waiting game, my advice would be to first get in line behind me, and then to find other things to do. Waiting for your response will mostly likely take a long time, and there are better things to do than compulsively check your email; such as…
Read a Book
Pick books from your genre and books as far from it as possible. Read to learn. Get inspired. Join a book club. Reading not only keeps your mind busy (and off your emails), it also teaches you just as much about the art of writing as writing itself.
Inspiration comes from anywhere, and nothing fills in endless hours like binge watching TV series and movies with good stories and characters. Stranger Things 2 starts soon, and this year I loved 13 Reasons Why and The Sinner.
Learning to meditate will help to keep you calm as you spend day after day looking at an empty inbox, and can help to quiet that little voice of doubt that likes to whisper the totally illogical reasons why you haven’t heard back yet.
Writers spend so much time sitting at their desks that it’s important to implement a daily exercise routine to help counteract some of that creative inactivity. I like to go for walks, especially anywhere that is surrounded by trees as it reminds me of the setting for my supernatural YA series. That way I’m exercising and getting inspired all at the same time.
Listen to Podcasts
I’ve only just gotten into Podcasts, and wondered how I ever took a walk without them. Some of my favorites are TeenCreeps, WriteNow with Sarah Werner and So You Want to Be a Writer.
Try a Different Form of Writing
If you don’t have another book to work on while you wait, trying a different form of writing is a great way to stretch and maintain the writing muscle. During the fourth month of waiting I started crafting blog posts, but I’d also love to give flash fiction, poetry or short stories a try.
Celebrate What You’ve Achieved
Another way to pass the time is to celebrate your milestones, especially ones where you’ve sent out submissions—even if they ended up being rejections. In those cases, I recommend celebrating by eating your body weight in chocolate, and then going for another walk.
They say an organized mind works better so try decluttering or cleaning the space where you write. Do not do this, however, if being disorganized is the source of your writing power.
Start a Journal
Even if all that the journal entries are about is how frustrating it is waiting to hear back from publishers, getting the thoughts out of your head and on paper is very therapeutic. Trust me, I have nine months worth of rants to back me up.
My final suggestion is using your time to research all of those things you intended to research but were too busy writing and submitting to do. These can include learning about blogging, self publishing, book cover design, the paradoxes of time travel in case you ever write a book that needs it, and the next round of publishers that you want to send submissions to—and then spend the rest of your life waiting to hear back from.
In the nine months since submitting to the second publisher, I’ve written four drafts for the last book in my YA series, and I’m now putting the finishing touches on the final drafts for the whole series. I’m keeping myself busy while waiting, just as busy as the publishers working hard to get through the slush pile. It’s a frustrating and long process for everyone—but one that I think both writers and publishers can agree—is worth the wait.
— K.M. Allan