So, you’ve written a perfect manuscript, polished it up and prepped stellar query letters. Those little birds have flown the coop and landed in the hands of capable agents or publishing houses for consideration.
Now what? The dreaded waiting game.
Agents and publishers receive hundreds to thousands of queries every year. All those letters, synopses and writing samples take some time to digest. Plus, remember that agents (in particular) have to represent their current roster of clients, a time-consuming task.
All this culminates in a lengthy waiting game for authors. But, with some creative planning, you can make the period between query submissions and hearing back work wonders for you and your writing career. Here are five of the best ways to win the game and come out ahead.
- Never, Ever Stop Writing – Sure, you’ve just pushed out a behemoth of a manuscript. Time to let the good, ol’ quill cool down, right? Wrong! This is a perfect time to continue your craft, since you’ve got nothing but hours to days to weeks to kill. Start a new project, or dust off an old one you shelved and give it another go. Perhaps you’ve had a literary seed germinating in the folds of your brain. Why not cultivate it with some creative manure and see how it grows? At best, you’ll have a successful manuscript in the hopper and a second in the womb; at worst, you’re well on your way to the next opportunity for success. It’s a win-win for you as a writer.
- Make Like a Tree: Branch Out & Grow – I’ve recently finished two sequential manuscripts, and the third and fourth volumes are underway. While I’m plotting out my marketing and distribution strategy for the series in my downtime, I’m spending a good deal of daily time on my other professional love: marketing. I work with a small, select group of clients to create exceptional collateral materials, strategies, social media plans and strong, focused websites. If I could simply sit down with the keyboard and a mug of coffee to write creatively each and every day, would I? Most likely. But by pursuing my second interest, I’m able to grow my networks, expand my capabilities and fund my writing periods in a sustainable, mutually beneficial way. The waiting game makes dual careers like mine possible.
- Explore, Learn, Inspire, Repeat – You’ve drained your brain of ideas, and your creativity beaker is out of freshly brewed eau d’inspiration. What now? If you’re in the waiting game, get out into the world and explore! Whether it’s research at your local library, clicking around an online archive or visiting intriguing locales around the globe, go refuel your gray matter with the stuff that intrigues readers. Learn a new hobby, explore the other side of the tracks or simply catch up with a long-lost friend to grease your gears and build recipes for future stories.
- Liberally Apply Polish in a Circular Motion – Nowhere in the non-existent rule book does it say you shouldn’t revisit your work. After your query letters are in, reread your tome and edit it all over again. Unlike cake batter, which becomes flat and gloppy when it’s over-manipulated ahead of the baking process, manuscripts don’t suffer ill effects when massaged repeatedly. Go back in, tighten up your weakest sections, retool your best passages and make the entire piece shine brighter than before. You’ve got the time, now; use it to succeed!
- To Market, To Market – One of the biggest traps I’ve read about isn’t really a trap at all; it’s an invisible stumbling block that sends writers flying when they least expect it. Many new authors think their agent or publishing house will take their written work and do all the rest of the marketing work for them. True, these folks will work hard as your advocates, stirring the public to rally behind cash registers to purchase the toils of your labor. But if you’re wondering if there’s more that you can do before you even get to that stage to make the response even stronger, the answer is: YES! Begin collecting social media usernames for your manuscript, such as the Twitter handle I recently set up for Rising Son. If you’re so inclined, create a website (Wix.com is a great starting point for new web developers), such as the one I made for Rising Son (contact me for the password if you’d like to take a look). And, for goodness sake, begin putting both your name and your novel’s name out there. The bigger the audience, the better the response. You’ve got time to get a head start, so use it to power ahead to the next gate before your publishing plane even lands.
What are your favorite ways to pass the time during the waiting game? Share with a comment below!