Three Ways to Survive Waiting in Publishing

by Robin Lovett
published in Community

It’s all about the waiting. If you’re currently on sub with agents or editors or whoever, you know it. The anxiety is real. It involves a lot of WHAT IF thinking. What if I get signed? What if I don’t? What if everyone hates my book? What if they don’t? What if I get the contract of my dreams?

Dreaming about what you’d like to happen is healthy and good for us. We should all have dreams and indulge in them. Don’t stifle yourself. But there is a point one can reach of unhealthy obsession.

It’s also healthy to have doubts. Preparing oneself mentally for the varying possible outcomes, even the worst possible, is a good idea. Being aware that it might not work out is okay. But going crazy with the fear of everyone hating your work—not helpful.

My very best advice:

1) Let waiting become your new normal

The anxiety of stasis on the cusp of career altering change is torture. Checking the email obsessively, always with that small hope of, today could be the day! Good news, or bad news, comes so fast. In an instant, it can happen. But you can’t live that way. Not sustainably.

Living every minute, every day obsessively checking your phone, always with that nugget of anxiety in your stomach—it’s not sustainable living. It will drive you to drink. As it has so many. The only way I’ve found to truly combat it is to ACCEPT IT!

You will be waiting. You will continue to wait. Even if you get the final rejection. Even if you get the dream contract. On the other side, there will only be more waiting.

2) Be writing your next book

This should be the obvious thing that everyone tells you. If you aren’t neck deep in your next project, get there. It’s the best medicine for not obsessing about getting news. Displacement! Obsess about your new story instead. But get comfy with the waiting too.

If you sign with an agent… Get ready for more waiting. Your book will go on sub to editors. And many of those take even longer than agents to respond. (I had a book on sub for a year… and it never sold. #WorstCaseScenario)

If you get the contract…There will be more waiting, even after the deal comes in. You’ll be waiting for edits—every—single—round. Which is usually three. Sometimes four or more. Authors aren’t the only ones who have trouble meeting deadlines. Editors do too. And you never know when they’ll come in. Whenever they do, you have to drop everything and work on them.

There’s waiting for your cover designs to come in. It’s vitally important, your book’s number one marketing tool. And then, there’s waiting for reviews. Will anyone like this book??? Reviews are an important boost for sales. They’re a big deal and often difficult to get.

Then, there’s waiting for sales numbers. That takes FOREVER! If you’re lucky, your publisher sends out your sales reports and royalty checks FOUR times a year. That’s right. Three months between each one. And it applies to the previous quarter. So, it’s actually six months. For example, say you’re waiting on sales numbers from a June release (coughcoughME!), you’ll be waiting until November.

For many of the big houses and imprints, the royalty statements only come TWICE a year. That’s every six months… for the previous six months. So yeah, a year’s wait. You can guestimate how much your sales are based on your Amazon sales ranking, but in the end only your publisher knows. (Unless of course you’re in self-publishing. Definitely a point that makes me consider it pretty regularly.)


3) Remember There will always be more waiting!

Because then, you’ll start your next project and be back on sub again. This is the full circle moment because, if it doesn’t sell, if the contract never comes, if no agent decides they can sell your book right now, you’ll be in the same spot as the contracted writers will be eventually: Submitting the next project

It all starts again. The circle of publishing. It truly is enough to make a person want to pursue self-publishing. But in truth, if you step back from the anxiety, you’ll realize, IT’S FUN!

The thrill of the deal is intoxicating. It’s gambling. Because when the good news does come in, because it will, maybe not on this project or the next project, but sometime in the future, it gives you the fuel to keep going.

But take care of yourself in the meantime. Get comfy with the hurry up (as in making the writing and editing deadlines) and wait rhythm of the business. It’s just how it goes. Settle in for the long haul.

You’re in this for a whole career. Not just for one book.

Robin Lovett is a romance writer whose first series of dark romances released through St. Martin’s Press Swerve summer 2017. Her next series is a sci-fi erotic romance through Entangled Publishing. She loves to chat on Twitter @LovettRomance and every Sunday evening you can find her with other romance writers at #RWChat. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of BookEnds Literary Agency.

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