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  • Writer's pictureStacie Haas

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?

I don’t know how on-the-verge authors do this, the waiting, I mean. I suspect many of them have agents and that, once their completed manuscripts are handed off to them, that it frees them as writers to work on other projects. In reality, those of us without representation have that same freedom, but it’s not as simple as that because you wonder about the strategy and timing of the next submission. (More on why I didn’t query agents in a later post, but it’s primarily because agents don’t typically sign on to market just one book—and at the time, I didn’t feel I had more than one book in me.)

While I have used this period of waiting to work on my writer platform and to write—I entered my first flash fiction contest, wrote and submitted an article to a children’s magazine, and got a great start on doing a non-fiction picture book—I still can’t get my query off of my mind. I have more than enough other responsibilities to fill my head, and yet, it just won’t leave. It keeps hanging on. I go to sleep thinking about it; I find my mind wandering to it when it should stay fixed on other things. How great will it be if they request the manuscript? What if they decline? I should prepare myself for that—what’s next in my game plan?

I think often about simultaneous submissions—those enticing, frustrating little buggers. Submitting simultaneously gives writers the opportunity to submit their manuscripts to multiple publishers at once. It seems a good deal—after all, the more you pitch, the greater the chance of success, right? The greatest argument in their favor is that it keeps you moving. Publishers are notoriously slow in getting back to writers on their queries or manuscripts. For one to respond in a month is rare—and if that happens for you, be thankful. Most I’ve researched are running about 90 days and some are four or six months or more. If a writer waited six months between submissions, two years of doing that would only mean four submissions.

The other caveat is that, while many publishers allow simultaneous submissions, they do so only reluctantly. Right now, I have one query out to one publisher. In many ways, this doesn’t seem like a good use of my time. A query with three chapters isn’t a full submission so I wonder if I should be querying somewhere else at the same time. But then I fall into the “what if” trap of having to explain that one publisher already requested my full manuscript and now what was once going to be exclusive has now become simultaneous. There’s one author online who suggests plainly that we are not obligated to reveal that and it’s not a problem until you are weighing which of two or more contracts you want to accept. Oh, to have to deal with that conundrum (read: yes, please!).

I don’t really operate that way, though. The first publisher I submitted to (this round, more on that later, too) is really my desired publisher to work with. They were recommended by an award-winning author friend of mine. Out of respect for him and for that publisher, I want to wait until I get some kind of response. Unlike many publishers, they do promise a response. It’s just the waiting, waiting, and waiting some more.

I queried them on February 29, hoping the Leap Year date would bring some kind of luck. I am rapidly approaching that one month mark. I have set April 1 as the date that I will start looking at querying the next publisher on my list. And I would be thrilled to work with that publisher, too. In fact, they are not second on my list, but equal to the first. In fact, the first five or six publishers on my list all fit that category. I think I could be an asset to any and all of them. I just need one of them to take a chance on me.

I suppose for now I’ve decided that waiting—at least for another few days—is my game plan. So, each time my cell phone pings signaling an incoming email, I’ll have to live with the little jump of my heart, and hope that just one time, it’s not my kids’ school with another daily update or the latest ads from Old Navy.

To all the writers who have endured this trial, I salute you!

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