Writing Strategy #5 – What To Do While Waiting for Publishers to Decide


Every week, The Adventurous Writer features a writing strategy, sometimes from Quips & Tips for Successful Writers (and sometimes not — like today!). This week, the strategy is about what to do while waiting for publishers and editors to decide on sample chapters, book manuscripts, or article pitches.

Last week, I submitted my sample chapters to my agent, to be forwarded to a Canadian publishing house. They’ve been considering my See Jane Soar book idea for over a year. That’s a long time to wait in human terms… but in book publishing terms, it’s but a drop in the bucket. The publishing process moves at glacial speed at the best of times! 

But I can’t sit around twiddling my thumbs and biting my nails while I wait for the publishers to decide on the fate of my book. I’ll get old and gray! Older and grayer.

Are you in the same boat? If not now, you might be soon…

Here’s a list of things for writers to do while waiting for publishers or editors to decide on book proposals, sample chapters, manuscripts, or article ideas:

  • Plan a vacation
  • Start a writers’ group
  • Start a blog
  • Start a book club
  • Stop wondering what the publisher or editor thinks about your writing
  • Stop thinking that this is your last chance to get published
  • Explore different writing websites or blogs – I’ve recently discovered Aspiring Author and Advice to Writers and love them!
  • Treat yourself to a leather writing journal (the one pictured is gorgeous, click for details)
  • Plan your long and short-term writing goals
  • Research new writing markets
  • Learn how hobbies become money making careers
  • Clean up your blog (check for broken links, jazz up your “about” page, refresh ad sizes and colors, etc)
  • See if you can discern a distinct writer’s voice in your favorite books
  • Find ways to recharge your batteries
  • Start a new exercise program (I love the 10 Minute Solutions Pilates DVDs!)
  • Go to Amazon.com and write a review of a book you’ve recently read
  • Update your Facebook profile
  • Improve your writing skills by taking an editing or web writing class
  • Throw a Goddess party
  • Spend the afternoon in the library, browsing all the sections
  • Spend the afternoon in bed, reading your favorite books (or relaxing in other ways)
  • Brainstorm new article or book ideas
  • Declutter your Google Reader (or other RSS feed-reading device)

And finally, think about John Updike’s advice to writers…

“Try to develop steady work habits, maybe a more modest quota, but keep to it,” said John Updike. “Don’t be thin-skinned or easily discouraged because it’s an odds-long proposition; all of the arts are. Many are called, few are chosen, but it might be you.” (Courtesy of Advice to Writers)



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Do you have any tips or questions about waiting for publishers or editors to decide on the fate of your book or article? What do you do while you wait? I welcome your comments below!

P.S.  These tips work for when you’re waiting for literary agents, too.







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One thought on “Writing Strategy #5 – What To Do While Waiting for Publishers to Decide

  • Robert Earle Howells

    Personally, since I’m a full-time freelancer, I focus on income-generating efforts. Which puts throwing a goddess party pretty far down the list! Never wait for just one reply…always have many pieces and proposals under consideration. If you’re waiting to hear about your book, use the time to write article queries, possibly repurposing some of your book research. Constantly ask yourself: Will this effort further my income-producing career? That’s my approach during business hours. That leaves plenty of time for meditating, adventuring, wife, friends, family, etc.