Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 24, 2012

The Waiting Game – Writing Tips

Stop looking out the window and watching that mailbox.

What to do while your’re waiting to hear back about your manuscript query.

Have you ever queried editors or agents recently?  And are you not checking your email and voice mail every thirty seconds or waiting anxiously for the mailman?

If so, there are a number of more productive things you can do while you wait.

Yes, agents or editors do sometimes call within hours or days of receiving a query, partial, or full manuscripts, but it usually takes longer.  In the case of full manuscripts, time is often measured in many months, not hours or days.  So take a deep breath, try to ignore the urge to check your email multiple time per minute, and turn your attention to something else.


* Continue to submit while you wait.  Unless you’ve promised an exclusive, most editors and agents assume you’ve sent out multiple queries.  So keep querying. (You aren’t getting any younger.)  And as to exclusives: if you do commit to one, set a tie limit–and make it short.

*  Make sure you send personalized queries, not form letters.  Include why you’re querying that agent.  Did you meet them at a workshop, read their interesting blog, or see a comment that mentioned they were looking for manuscript like the one your’ve written?  Personalize the letter with that information.

*  If you’re querying agents, create a list of questions to ask should one contact you.  Why types of books have they sold recently?  To whom?  Do they think your manuscript needs revising?  Do they have a contract?  There are lots of questions you might want to ask, and every one will fly right out of your head if an agent should call. (If they do, you might want to ask if you could call the agent back.  It gives you a chance to calm down.)

*  If you’re querying publishers, educate yourself about contracts.  How to Be Your Own Literary Agent by Richard Curtis is a good source, although things are changing in the publishing industry so quickly that even the most recent edition is a little dated.

*  Join a professional organization like SCBWI and become active.  You’ll meet authors who might suggest good editor/agent matches for your work, or connect with editors or agents who attend the organization’s functions.  Those contacts can gain you name recognition and create friendships with industry pros.

*  Write an article for a magazine.  No matter if it’s for children or adults, general interest or specific to writers, you’ll build writing credits and credibility as a writer.

*  Create a list of story ideas.  An agent isn’t interested in a one-hit wonder.  They want to know what else you’re thinking of writing in the future, so come up with a few blurbs for other book ideas.  You’ll be glad to have a list ready if an agent contacts you.

*  Even better: start your next book.  Having more than one manuscript will make you more attractive to an agent.

This article appeared in Sprouts Magazine and was written by Anita Nolan, Executive Editor.  She writes contemporary and historical fiction for tweens, middle grade and young adults.

I would also add, that you can use this time to submit something to one of the many contests available for writers.  We talked about Betsy Devany and her recent success:  That was one of the things she did, then she started winning and then people started to take notice.  I also, helped her keep the faith through the rejection letters and the revising that needed to be done.  But if you ask Betsy she will tell you that she welcomed everyone one of those rejections, because it made her a better writer.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Reblogged this on Kendra Lindell.


  2. These are great tips, thank you so much!


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