Help, I'm Stuck in the Publishing Waiting Game!

How I cope with not hearing back about projects for months

It’s a cliche that publishing is all about waiting, and I’m sorry to report that it is. Yet, you don’t have to suffer the wait. Here’s a bit about how I get by and use it to my advantage.

When I sold my first novel, SHAD HADID AND THE ALCHEMISTS OF ALEXANDRIA, things didn’t just suddenly ramp up. I didn’t have papparazi outside my door while my agent, the wonderful Jennifer Azantain, was not calling me up every few minutes to tell me about new foreign deals we’d secured and film rights being bid on by huge Hollywood producers.

What did happen was a nearly six-month waiting period between the deal closing and the public announcement. Months that would have seen me waiting for news, spending my time daydreaming about all that was to come while having nothing to do…

At least, had I not already begun working on a new project.

See, the trick when querying a project, sending a novel out for submission, or any in-between period that accompanies the writing process is to simply begin a new project. There’s no secret formula. The key is in pulling up your sleeves and leaping headfirst into doing what us writers do best—creating.

Now, I will preface this with the fact that there’s no need to be working if you’re okay simply waiting. Our work culture often stresses that we constantly be doing something related to our careers, but that is a fallacy. Rest is just as critical if not more important than work. Of course, the waiting periods in the publishing world afford plenty of time for rest as well as work. So, once you’ve taken some time to celebrate the milestone you’ve achieved, it is time to find a way to curb the stress that comes from being at the mercy of other peoples’ schedules.

In my case, SHAD HADID now sat with the team at HarperCollins. There was nothing else I could do until my editor, Megan Ilnitzki, returned an edit letter, and that’s true of any author who sells their work. So, antsy and with nothing to do, I decided to start an entirely new project. A young adult contemporary heist novel that was a big departure from anything I’d ever written before.

The work required to start a new project, coupled with the enthusiasm that accompanies creating from scratch, helped me ride out the wait. By the time I was allowed to revisit my debut novel, I’d not only been able to survive the wait, but had a first draft of an entirely new project completed!

That’s all to say the best solution to the commonly-discussed issue of waiting in publishing is to immerse yourself in something new. If you’ve sold a novel, consider beginning the sequel. If you’re at the mercy of a critique partner reading your manuscript, start a new one, perhaps in an entirely different genre or age group. This is a time where possibilities abound, so don’t view it as a negative, but the opposite.

If you’re currently stuck in a waiting loop and beginning a new project, reply and let me know what it is! If you’re looking for help with a project, reach out about my editing services. I’m right here with you and fully believe we’ll get to the other side together :)