Monday, March 23, 2015

The Waiting Game

The hardest thing about writing isn’t actually getting words on the page. It’s learning to wait patiently after all those words are written. Publishing is a slow, slow business. Sure there are stories about people who send out a query and receive an offer that same week and then bam, soon after they’ve got a book deal. BUT even in those cases, it will be a year or more before that book comes out if we’re talking about a traditional publisher.

Even if you Self-publish, you’ll have to show some patience as you build an audience for your book. Very, very few self-published books become instant successes overnight.

Unless you’ve got a four-leaf clover tucked in your back pocket, or a magic lamp to rub, better hunker down and prepare to wait. Every writer’s journey to publication is different. Each one has its own timeline.

I freely admit that patience isn’t my best virtue or even in my top ten. I’m learning though. Slowly and painfully. So here are some tips for what to do while you wait for the results of a contest, a critique from your beta readers, a response to your query, a response from an editor, your book to go out on sub, or any of the myriad other waiting games you’re about to leap into in the fun world of publishing.

1. Write.
No seriously, get your butt back in that chair and start writing your next novel. Sure you deserve the occasional mental health break, but mostly write, write, write. It’s what you love after all, isn’t it?

2. Read.
The best writers are also avid readers. Read widely, venture into genres outside your comfort zone. Try a new author. Try some old favorites. Read until the words are soaking into your skin like raindrops.

3. Critique.

Help out your fellow writers by joining a writing critique group or finding critique partners or even critiquing queries and first chapters for complete strangers you meet in the writing community. No matter how rough the writing you’re critiquing might be, I guarantee you’re learning something as you give feedback. Plus, you’re earning good karma by helping others.

4. Attend a conference.
Writing conferences are amazing. They are filled with awesome people, fantastic workshops, roundtables and panels and they’re a great way to improve your writing craft and make friends. Look for conferences associated with the genre or category you write in. For example, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, has many regional and two large national conferences each year. Romantic Times is a popular conference for romance writers. World Fantasy is a huge conference that attracts thousands of speculative fiction authors. Search online and I’m sure you can find a conference you’re interested in.

5. Connect.
Connect with other writers via social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and others. There are already amazing writing communities in each of those places just waiting for you to jump in.

6. Write.
But wait, I already said that. Yep, but it’s worth repeating. Do all those other things I listed, but this is the most important and it’s the one you should always, always come back to. Writers write.

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