Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Waiting Game

On my list of Things Not To Do Today is the following:
Do not obsessively check my gmail inbox for agent responses.
In theory, this sounds like a completely reasonable idea. A number of agents have my query. A happy subset of that number actually have requested partials or fulls of my MG manuscript. Better yet, patience has generally been one of my strong suits over the years.

So, what's the problem?

The Waiting Game is killing me.

Okay, so maybe not killing me. It's not as if I'm gushing blood here or my limbs are being severed or I'm being fired upon--and hit--by bullets, rocks, and/or slings arrows of my outrageous fortune. It's just that this drawn-out period of limbo is eating away at my stomach. That, and a very uncharacteristic buzzing, swirling thought pattern has settled into my head that alternates between "This might just happen!" and "There is no way this is going to happen."

Everything I've ever read on The Waiting Game has recommended the following advice:

  • Immediately begin work on another project
  • Prepare your Agent List; for every rejection you receive have your next query ready to send out
So far I have line-edited the second story in the series I'm querying on and am about to dive headlong into the already started third book.  And thanks to, my agent list has been ready since before the first query went out.

Still, there's this constant droning in the back of my head.

One of the agents who responded asked for a month-long exclusive.  At the same time she admitted she had a lot to read already in her Kindle and was still not likely to get back to me for at least three or four weeks.  That helped to put a timeframe in better perspective for me--someone who saw potential in my story still couldn't get back to me any sooner than three weeks. 

Intellectually, I understand this process takes time and I'm fine with that.  I'm fine with agents not falling in love with my goofy story.  I know it's not for everyone and I want to find that one person who believes in the story and the characters as much as I do. 

Emotionally, each rejection hurts and I wish that email and that call would come.  Like now.

What do/did you do while you're waiting for word back from agents?  What worked best?  What didn't work at all?



  1. Tom, since I'm not ready to query, I don't yet have a waiting strategy. But I know that Verla's blueboards has a new thread each month dedicated to people in the waiting trenches. I think it's very exciting that you have gotten nibbles here and there--and that agents are interested. Nice job. Hope you don't have too long to wait for good news! I have my fingers crossed!!

  2. Thanks, Heather!

    It turns out there are several stages to The Waiting Game. None of them are easy.

    One strategy: work yourself into exhaustion to the point where your brain no longer functions all that well. Then rest.

    (This was an accidental strategy. And while I'm not sure I'd recommend it, I also don't think it's avoidable at times)

    -- Tom