Publishing is all about waiting. Waiting for editors to respond to your submissions. Waiting for agents to respond to your queries. Waiting for your agent to call with news of your latest deal. Waiting to hear back from your editor on a submitted manuscript; waiting for her revision letter. Waiting to see your book in print. Waiting to find out how well it sold. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

The worst thing about waiting is that you can’t control it. Writing the book is under your control, but once the manuscript is out of your hands, your control over it is limited. Agents and editors have many demands on their time, some within the publishing business and some without. They don’t have time to hold your hand with constant updates. If they did, they’d have even less time to look at manuscripts. It’s better for all concerned if writers can develop coping strategies.

My number one strategy for coping with waiting is distraction. Sometimes the distraction results from working on the next project, or the one displaced by a revision letter. I’ve become so involved that I’ve forgotten I’m waiting for long stretches of time. I might also catch up on internet publicity, correspondence, tax documentation, and the like. Other times, such as when I’ve just turned in a completed draft, I’m too mentally exhausted to seriously begin writing a new book. In those cases, my distraction might include copious viewing of DVDs, or reading piles of books, or going on a trip, or simply emerging from my writerly garret and calling a few friends. Sitting still, though, is not an option. All that does is turn my brain into a hamster wheel, whirling round and round but going nowhere. For me, it’s best to have a focus.

What about you?

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Letters from a Publishing Professional.