Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The [Query] Waiting Game

Insecure Writer's Support Group
Meets 1st Wed of Every Month
(or in my case ALL THE TIME)
I started querying MINNA right before Christmas Break. Maybe not the best time in the world to jump on the
query train, but I just Couldn't. Wait. Any. Longer.

The waiting was driving me crazy. I kept fiddling with my manuscript. Tweaking it, refining it. I'd already done two self-edit passes, one round of beta ( thanks betas!!! ) followed by extensive revision, more edits, more beta, more self edits and .... well you get the picture. My manuscript (a YA Futuristic Fantasy) went from 120K to 99K to 89K as I polished and refined. It was ready.  I needed to push it out the door into queryland or I'd drive myself batty with the tweaking and second-guessing and waiting.

And then guess what I discovered?

Queryland is just more waiting! Lots more! I researched agents from my Big List O' Agents, went to Query Letter Hell and back again, and finally sent out my first batch of six shiny queries at the end of November. And then I waited ... and waited ... and then it was nearly Christmas Time.


But then I started to hear back! Turns out that agents like holidays too. I got some requests for partials, and of course eagerly sent them out. A few rejections on queries trickled in and my heart drooped a little. The New Year came. I sent out more queries. More rejections, more requests. Some of the partials turned into fulls. In January and February I entered #PitMad and Cupid's Blind Speed Dating and MSFV Secret Agent. There I got some great feedback, made new writerly friends, and got several more requests from agents! I did *happy dances* and sent out the manuscripts.

And that was the end of February. So that's where I am now. Waiting ... waiting ... again.

Every minute feels like too long. It's hard not to be impatient. As the days go by, my excitement at the requests is hard to keep hold of. The fact is that sitting in queryland limbo is tough. It's hard not to have these thoughts keep running through my head   ... maybe they already read it and hate it  ... maybe they just don't know how to break it to you ... maybe everyone will hate it ... maybe that genre is just too over-saturated to sell ... maybe the writing isn't good enough ... of course it's not good enough, what were you thinking?? ... maybe you're not good enough ... maybe you should just abandon your other WIPs .... maybe ...

This is not healthy.

While I'm waiting, I really should be working on my PhD dissertation. I really should be polishing up those articles to send out to academic journals. I've got my adviser's feedback. I have everything I need to start buckling down. But my index finger keeps wanting to hover back over that pesky [ Inbox ] button...

What do you do to cope with the waiting game? What do you do to keep yourself sane and focused on not-your-inbox?


  1. Run away from the Internet and hide my phone across the room? Leave the house, find something fun, make passing time more than just waiting, invite distraction :) Good luck with the inbox!

  2. I wrote a new book ^^; It's been the perfect distraction and now I have more than one project to work on :)

  3. Urgh! Patience may be a virtue but it sure sucks the big one. All that waiting around is what really turns me off the whole agenting process. As much as I would try to distract myself with other things I don't think I could think about anything else. Maybe the key is to just allow yourself to wallow in it until you get sick of it and finally break free. Possibly for more writing!

  4. Even though the querying process sounds pretty scary, I'm looking forward to being at that stage myself. Good luck and thanks for the post.

  5. I have zero patience as it is so I can't even imagine what it will be like once I reach the query stage. Gah!

    Great to be a part of IWSG with you!

  6. Aaargh. Waiting sucks, but wait we must...or is there another way? Read about self-publishing to kill the time.
    I'm really starting to wonder.
    ~Just Jill
    P.s. Thanks for stopping by my nut-tree and LOVED the twitter-pitch generator!

  7. Shiny new projects are the best way I've found to distract from the waiting game. You should really work on your dissertation, just to get it over with. Once you get an agent and go on submission for more waiting, a new novel will help :) Good luck.

  8. I'm not to that stage yet (still drafting my debut). But I've heard it's best to move on and work on something else. Set a limit for yourself - something appropriate, like checking email once in the morning, once at lunch, and once before you shut it down. Then stick to it and focus on other things.

    Haven't you heard? A watched pot never boils, and distraction makes the clock hands/calendar days go faster. LOL Best of luck. :)

  9. Definitely focus on your other work to be done. Partials and fulls can take forever to hear back on (and actually I have some I never heard back on even after status update requests and such). It will make you crazy if you let it. Get busy living... it makes the waiting much easier. Good luck!

  10. I hope one day to be able to empathize with you, but for now I can only sympathize. Waiting on responses from others is no doubt tons more difficult than waiting on one's self to 'be ready' to submit.

  11. It sounds to me like you're on the right track. Being patient can be tough, but in the end I'm sure the wait will be worth while. In the meantime, write something new. Best of luck!

  12. I have to say my resolve to deal with the waiting dwindled after about six months of querying. It seemed much longer! and I was surprised when I later figured out it was only about six months. I did go the self-publishing route, which I'm pleased with.

    Waiting is something I'm learning to have more humility about. It's a continual lesson, it seems, and one I have to relearn every now and then.

  13. The waiting game is SO hard-and a constant part of a writer's life. Once you sign with an agent you wait on submissions too. The best advise I've ever had is to work on a new project. Still it's not easy when the little voice of self-doubt enters the scene. You can do it! You are a writer!

  14. I haven't been querying for awhile, though I don't remember stressing out too badly when I was. It was just another thing to wait for. It's important to do other things in the interim, like editing and revising other books, writing something new, or planning a sequel.

  15. I suck at the waiting game. Right now I don't have anything ready to go, but I think part of that dragging my feet is so I don't have to deal with the publication tango right now.

  16. I'm terrible at waiting for anything but, oddly enough, once I've given up all hope of getting any kind of response, that's when it arrives. Great advice from others about working on something else if you can. Will keep my fingers crossed for you. :-)

  17. I've been doing this a very long time, Carissa, and the truth is to forget you're waiting. Dismiss the thought from your brain. When it creeps back in, say something sweet to yourself, like... "I'm so glad to be alive. What glorious day." Then return to whatever you were doing at that precise moment and voila, you're no longer waiting.

    Trust me. I know from where I speaketh. Happy IWSG!

  18. I'm writing short fiction, so my wait times can vary drastically from market to market, but I've found that the only way to keep from counting down the days and waning in misery is to stay busy. Jump right into the next project and get lost in it. Before you know it, that time will have passed and the arrival in your inbox will be a pleasant surprise.

    Hang in there, and good luck!


  19. I guess it's just part of the process. I could never deal with this waiting game, so I plan to self-publish. I won't have this aggravation, but if you can handle it, then great! I guess you need to develop extreme patience and do things to take your mind off your inbox until you hear back from everyone.

    The other piece of advice I've heard is to start writing your next book. :)

  20. It is hard to wait for feedback from queries, partials, and fulls. I think the best remedy is to force yourself to write one paragraph on your dissertation, for you have fueled so much of yourself into that goal as well.

    Working on a rough outline of a new book is always good, too. It is always a good thing to have a second book in the works (not necessarily a sequel) should an agent or publisher asks if you are writing one (they want to know you are more than a one hit wonder.)

    Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting so insightfully. Roland

  21. Waiting can be tough, but hang in there! A good distraction is to work on another writing project or take up a side interest. (Now's the time to try out that basket weaving class you've always wanted to check out!) I think it's great you've come so far...someday I'd like to have a finished MS I can query.

  22. Whenever the waiting and rejections got tough, I remembered how many times Stephen King was rejected before he got published. Don't push it, it will drive you mad. Start that disseratation (you came this far to stop now?), find a buddy to push you - do ANYTHING but check your email. Then one day the good news will come and you'll be totally surprised!

  23. I haven't queried yet, but your post gave me food for thought. I need to start practicing a little chillaxing right now because its probably a long road ahead. I would guess starting a new project and getting my mind off the wait would be the thing to do when I get there.

  24. I started querying my 3rd book last Aug and am still waiting on 50% of the queries and partial and full requests I sent off. March 1st, I kinda gave up and started querying small publishers. Truthfully, I don't have much hope anymore despite all the great things people have said about it. I wish you better luck than I'm having. :-)

  25. oh my goodness, you have so much advice! But this really resonated with me, since it's the place I'm at right now. There have only been two things that have helped. One was diving into a new WIP. That didn't seem like it was helping. But when I actually DOVE into it, and stopped using it as just a distraction, it worked. The second was taking breaks after a few tough query rounds. I took a month or so off, and even though I hated wasting that time...it helped immeasurably.

    Sounds like you are getting great response rates, though. Very best of luck!


  26. Well, this is probably not helpful at all: I bypass the whole waiting game and self-publish. I'm way too impatient for that stuff. It sounds like your waiting will lead to success, though. Keep faith.

    Also, it's nice to meet, and now follow, you through the IWSG.


  27. Write, that's what I do while I wait. I also read as much as I can.
    I waited11 months before I received an offer :-)

  28. Hi Carissa, nice to meet you. Waiting for agents' replies is sheer torture. Best way to deal with it is to immerse yourself in a new story or start writing those academic articles.

    Btw..thanks for the follow.

  29. Hi Carissa, nice to meet you. I'm not very good at the waiting game either. I, of course, give into it and check my 'inbox' constantly. Ha,ha, ha. BUT, then I try to immerse myself in something else, something to completely take my mind off what I'm waiting for (like that really ever happens) and get on with life. But, I still keep checking, just in case.

  30. Waiting IS so hard! But all those partials and fulls? That's amazing! Congratulations.

    How do I handle waiting? Write something new. For sure.

  31. HI, Carissa,

    Nice to meet you. WAITING IS HELL>.... LOL. But at least there is much interest in your work. You should be THRILLED. My eight queries only let to two rejections and DEAD SILENCE. BUMMER.

    BUt I keep busy. Re-writes on my first novel. CRAFTING LIKE CRAZY and in a BAKING FRENZY at the moment. ANYTHING to keep my hands busy. Blogging helps to. But so close to the inbox button. WE ALL have this same habit. LOL

  32. You're braver than I am. I couldn't face Query Letter Hell. Instead, I just bugged all my family and friends, got rejections based on a bad query (maybe, but you never really know), read every good query example I could get hold of and sent our more again. Then I started receiving requests.

    I got really down after I'd sent out so many flurries and just stopped hearing back. I stopped querying, but I think I might be ready to again. You're right that the waiting is hard, but I'd rather be rejected than wait for months and wonder "has she even read it?"

    When I try not to think of the query trenches or the inbox, I play games (Madness Returns, Fallout 3, Bioshock 1&2, Second Life), work on my WIP and plan projects for my little art class. My problem isn't so much HOW to distract myself (I'm very good at that), it's distracting myself so long that I become unproductive.

  33. I deal with the waiting game by...waiting. That's all you can do. But, I try and stay busy with other writing projects, edits, revisions and new writing. Does it help? Well... not really! The waiting is still there, but it does help me concentrate on whats important, and that's my improving my craft!

    Best wishes with MINNA!



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