The Waiting Game


This is how you feel when you hear something positive from an agent or publisher.

Ah. The big moment. You wake up one morning and stumble into the kitchen to make coffee. Before you can make coffee, you have to feed your twelve (two, just feels like twelve) children first. Then the cats are all hungry. And the dog needs to go out. Oops. I left the laundry in the washing machine again. Rewash. Try to make coffee again. No one filled up the Brita. Wait approximately 22 years for the Brita to fill up.

Finally. You take your coffee and head off to sit in your favorite chair. Your kids need seventeen more things done. Okay. Try again.

Ah. I’m going to sit down with my lukewarm coffee and check my email. Only one email sits in your inbox. You notice without much interest that it is from a literary agent. You open the email fully expecting the following: Dear Author, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your submission. Unfortunately, I did not connect with the manuscript enough and I will have to pass.

When you actually read the email, you almost have a heart attack because this time, instead of a big fat rejection, you get a big fat “Dear Anna, I really enjoyed reading the pages you sent and I’d love to read more. Please forward your manuscript.” You completely panic.

You spend the weekend revising (again) and then hit send. And now you wait. Here are the five stages of waiting for feedback from an agent.

  • General hysteria. Even though you know the chances of getting an agent in this day and age are slim, you have hope.
  • Instead of cleaning maniacally or turning the light switch on and off fifty times, you become totally OCD about checking your email. You leave it open and just stare at your inbox. Every time an email comes and you see that little (1), your heart leaps up in your throat and then falls all the way down to your feet when you see that it is just your car insurance company telling you that your payment is now due. Repeat every time you get an email for at least two weeks.
  • You will now stalk said agent on Twitter. You hope they tweet something like “Just read the greatest MS of all time. Cannot wait to sign this new author.” Instead, they are like “Going out for pizza!”
  • Now and again, you will lose all hope. You will feel like crawling into bed and pulling the covers over your head until you lose the urge to write. You won’t lose the urge but you might have an idea in your duvet fort and have to get up to write it down.
  • Weeks pass. You start to realize that you might not hear a word or you might hear the words you’ve been waiting years to hear.

Whatever happens, it’s important to remember that while an agent would be awesome and your ticket to publishing with a big five, it isn’t the only way. Small publishers are awesome. There is more support than ever for self-published authors and more respect (from many, not all). But many writers still have the dream of walking into B&N and BAM there’s your book.

Excuse me, I haven’t stared at my inbox in about fifteen minutes so I’d better be going.