The Waiting: A Writer’s Guide to a Publisher’s Timeline

By Megan Burkhart a professional writing major at Taylor University

Being a writer requires a lot of patience. In a world that values speed and availability of information, you can get anything you want within seconds. The publishing world, by comparison, works at a snail’s pace. It can take months to hear back on a submission, and sometimes you may never hear back at all.

What do you do when you’ve let your baby out into the world? How do you stop yourself from fretting constantly over your precious manuscript sitting at a publishing house? How do you survive the waiting?

1. Write

Plain and simple. You keep writing. If you poured your heart and soul into one manuscript and have nothing left to write about, are you really a writer? Writers always have something to say. Where one story ends, another finds its way to the surface. If you feel empty and as though your muse has up and left town, don’t worry. Give yourself time. Another idea will stir your passions when you least expect it.

2. Read

You’ve spent most of your time working tirelessly to finish this project and suddenly, you have some free time. Find a good book and get lost in it. It gets you out of your own story world for a little bit and may even spark a new idea for your next project. All good writers are readers. You can also claim this as ‘research’ if you get odd looks from your friends and family. They may view you as being unproductive, but you are really gearing up for your next story. Call it your ‘explorative’ stage.

3. Self-Care

As antsy as you may be to start your next project, remember to take some time to rest and recover. If that means taking a break from writing for a few days or weeks and enjoying other activities, go for it. Go hiking. Take a trip with friends. Revive an old hobby. Maybe catch up on the chores and laundry you avoided while finishing your recent project. Whatever you decide to do, make sure both your mind and body are getting rest. A burned out writer is no good to the world.

The waiting can be a long, frustrating season, but it is a normal part of a writer’s life. Don’t let yourself get discouraged during the waiting. Stay positive and repress those self-doubts about your writing. Trust me, the doubts will come, especially around the 3-6 month mark of no reply. Even if the rejection comes, let it be a stepping stone to make your writing better. There will never be success where you have not first tried and failed.

Wait patiently. Wait productively. And wait with positivity. There are no shortcuts to making it in the publishing industry.

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