Hey there my lovelies! It's another beautiful Sunday, so that means a word from your favorite (non)expert! Today I thought I'd go old school and commiserate with you about one of the hardest parts about being a writer who's trying to get published. Today I'm giving you my two cents on surviving the wait!
So you've finished your book, and edited, then edited again, and hopefully repeated that about two dozen more times. You're at the point where you've changed it from a semi-colon to a period and back again so many times you lost track of where it started. You've also written a query letter, a synopsis and hopefully had your submission package critiqued a lot too. So you send it out there….
First of all, congratulations!
Nice job on finishing the book, obviously (and query, and everything else that goes along with it). But also, Congratulations on setting your baby free into the world and crossing your fingers it will find you an agent or publisher.
So what do you do now?
I think a lot of writers suffer from being terrible tinkerers (myself included). What I mean is, you cannot stop fiddling and you never feel like you've quite got it right. It's hard to put your work into the world, and even harder to trust that it's ready. But that's what you have to do once you send it out there.
I'm not saying you can't ever make changes. I'm saying, once you've sent it out, wait and see what happens before you start messing with it. Leave well enough alone and trust you've done your job. If you're convinced it's not ready, then don't send it. Do whatever you need to make sure you feel like it is.
I know that's easier said than done, but I promise continuing to tinker will do nothing but drive you crazy. You'll start second guessing and think about withdrawing your submission or wondering if you should send it again, and that's not a great look. It can be hard to leave well enough alone, especially if you're sitting around waiting for rejections, but that's what you need to do.
So what do I do to get myself through the wait?
The first and most successful thing I've done to avoid just sitting still and ‘waiting’ is to write. Think about why you wrote the book in the first place… You loved doing it right? So do it again. Write another book in the series, find a short story contest, start a journal, take a writing class, start a blog, whatever you want to write… Do it!
Practice makes perfect so especially if you're a new writer, the more you keep doing it, the better you'll get at it. I have several unfinished manuscripts probably like every writer. But... I've also completely written four unpublished manuscripts and each one is better than the previous. I've also written and entered several short story challenges and again, each one better than the next. So keep at it, because writing anything is going to help you fix your first baby! I promise.
Secondly, work on your profile. I've talked about it in other posts but being a writer in today's society and selling books is going to mean you need social media and contact with your audience. So work on your website, start a blog, work on starting and maintaining consistent social media content.
The last thing I do during the wait is take classes and do research. There's a lot to know about the publishing industry. You can't be expected to know it all, but you can try to learn from other people who are walking your path. Find writing groups and participate in them. Take workshops, classes or read a self help book on things you don't know as much about. Take the opportunity to learn something you've been wondering about. And if you're convinced you want to traditionally publish (or self publish) do the research to convince yourself why that's important.
I have a writer friend who's been struggling with this very thing lately. The wait is killing her and she asked me why I felt so strongly about traditional publishing. I think this is an important question that everyone needs to be able to answer for themselves and it's going to make the waiting easier.
So here was my answer:
1. Traditional publishers already (hopefully) have proven marketing strategies that even if I have to help implement I won't have to try to guess and figure out on my own.
2. They know all the legalities which is important to me
3. Even though I've done 1.3 million rounds of edits, I'm sure they will polish it more
4. I don't have the $$ to do all of the above things plus whatever other things I haven't even considered yet without feel guilty about taking away from my family
5. If I put it out there by myself and it doesn't do well, I know I'll always wonder if I made a mistake
6. If it fails I have nobody else to blame but myself for not doing it right.
I feel committed to my wait. I know why I'm doing it and I find ways to fill my time. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I'm not trying to make writing my full-time career right now, so I have the time to do it slow and steady. This may not work for you, but if it does, maybe today's post will have given you some inspiration or words of wisdom.
You probably get my point by now… So I'll wrap it up. Querying is a tough process. It's more mentally hard than anything else because waiting around worrying about what people think of something you've poured a piece of yourself into is excruciating! So don't spend the time refreshing your inbox. Set yourself a refresh limit, try to stick to it. Also, try to remember you've done the hard part already, you put it out there and ultimately it's out of your hands once you hit send.
Also if you do receive rejections, try not to take them personally. Most agents will probably tell you that at least 50% of their rejections have little to do with how good the project is. There are a million reasons they could have rejected you (they're looking for something else, they already have something like it, they like it but they only have so much space and they love something more, etc). The point is, just because one agent says it's not for them doesn't mean they all will. And if you've gone through several rounds of querying with only rejections that doesn't mean you should shelve your book. It just means you haven't found it's home yet or maybe it is time to tinker again.
Whatever you do, have heart and don't forget that you've already accomplished so much by just finishing it.
That's all I got for today folks! That's my two cents on surviving the wait. It's hard but find ways to distract yourself because it will make it seem less excruciating.
Have a good week, loves!
Rose Rayne Rivers
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