Get some perspective

my agent submitted my manuscript to publishers two weeks ago. she said her cover letter would give them five weeks to respond (one week longer than she normally gives them...since most would be at the frankfurt book fair).

1. is it unreasonable to ask for a list of the publishing houses she submitted to?
2. is it unreasonble to ask for a copy of the cover letter?
3. obviously she hasnt gotten any offers yet, but would it be too snarkdiculously soon to ask if she's gotten any rejection letters?

i am dying. READ: DYING!! do you agents know how hard it is for us writers to wait?!! I will never ever last five weeks. seriously.

you are going to have to settle down and act like a grownup here.

If you're going crazy now, I have no confidence you'll survive the next parts of the publication process, all of which involves waiting.

Get a grip. Find something else to think about. World peace comes to mind.


Christine said...

I find writing my next book a great way to kill some time while I'm waiting.

Try it.

I'm sure your agent would agree. :)

Ray Goldensundrop said...

Best thing I've found to settle down is some other activity than writing, wringing and wetting.

Guitars and motorcycles are my favorite others. Then comedy, movies, adult beverages and activities, and I'm taking up typewriter/computer target shooting at Dragon Man's place.

Thinking about it anyway. The guy has full-auto machine guns.


ilona said...


Novel one, waiting on ARC
projected wait: 3 months
time elapsed since I last saw it: 1 month

Novel two, waiting on first edit
projected wait: no telling... 3-4 months?
time elapsed: almost 2 months

Novel three, waiting on a possible offer
projected wait: hahaha! When an extremely busy editor gets to it.
time elapsed: 2 weeks

Short story submission:
projected wait: hell if I know
time elapsed: since February

Oh, here is a good one:
time one of my novels set in a slush pile at one of the NY busy publishers: 19 months.

5 weeks is small potatoes

Shouga Tea said...

The semblance of virtue is often the only way to acquire it...
However, having patience for world peace is beyond me. I'd rather school my little brothers in peace by calculated acts of violence; and leave the world to benefit later. (^_^)

Anonymous said...

It's agony, and there's nothing you can do, and yes, it's time to be horribly grown up and get on with something else, like the next novel. Or world peace, of course. Or you could try settling once and for all who wrote Shakespeare's plays.

On the other hand, as you've said in the past I think, Miss Snark, it's true that an author does have a right to know where the MS has gone. I assume it wouldn't annoy an agent beyond reason to receive a polite email asking for the list of submissions, and also asking to know of any rejections as they arrive, rather than waiting till the end of the process.

For myself I'd rather not know what the cover letter said, let alone the all-too-frank detail of the rejection letters. Being a cushion between you and the rejections is one of the functions of an agent. It's not just cowardice: the trade talking among itself can really screw up your good writer's sense of your own work. I find that's even true now, on the second book of my two-book deal.

Anonymous said...

Try starting your next book. Writing always takes your mind off other things. This writing business is a waiting game for those of us who place all our hopes on words on paper. Get used to it. Five weeks is nothing. Wait until you have to wait on an editor.

Kimber An said...

Yes, get some perspective. Otherwise, a few years from now you're going to kick yourself for this. Check out the latest entry on my blog entitled 'Real Life' if you need help.

Anonymous said...

Another thought that comes to mind is that you express emotion very vividly. I have no doubt you will be published sooner or later.

Now grab a cup of herbal tea or go for a brisk walk or rake an elderly person's leaves - and CHILL OUT!

The Unpretentious Writer said...

Idle hands are the devil's tools....Final Fantasy XII is due out 10/31/06, there's always that.

writtenwyrdd said...

Options on my list:
1. Alcohol;
2. Food;
3. Exercise;
4. Read a good book;
5. Next writing project.

Mix-n-match as needed. If that doesn't work, perhaps see the doc for medication. I'm hearing echoes of my ADD here.

Ryan Field said...

When you learn the difference between who you are and what you write you'll also learn how to be patient. Don't ever let your work define you.

Anonymous said...

How cute the you think the editors your agent sent your manuscript to will actually look at it in the requested five weeks time - -especially since we're all just coming back from Frankfurt, heading into our fall launches and have a pile of pre-Frankfurt stuff on our desks. So sweet.

p.n. elrod said...

You wanna be a big league professional writer?

Channel all that energy into the next two books.

You wanna be an author who suffers terrible agony for the craft?

Sit on your hands until you implode--pretty much what you're doing now.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious who this writer's agent is, since I find it difficult to believe someone could land an agent when they are completely unable to hit the Shift key on their keyboard when they start a sentence.

ello said...

Congratulations on getting so far! Don't let anything get you down now, no matter what happens, you are on the right track and all you have to do is keep moving forward. As hard as it is to put this out of your mind, and I would be going crazy right there with you, I know that you know something that will take your mind off of this, at least for small stretches at a time. So go do it. How long did it take you to write your book? How long did it take you to get your agent? You've waited before, you can do it again.

ps - you might not want to see the cover letter if it only makes you stress about it more. But definitely ask who your agent submitted to, that's probably a standard request and one your contract would give you the right to ask for.

Good luck!

Alphabet said...

Shakespeare wrote the plays.

5 weeks is a long time to wait. I would be useless for the whole five weeks. Miss Snark is right, though, don't let your agent know it's killing you.

Simonbun said...

Well said, Ryan Field. I'm writing that one down for my little inspirational/educational saying easel next to my computer.

To the original poster--it doesn't get better. I was offered a two-book deal in February. The first book will be coming out in Spring 2008. I've since written another book and a half, and will probably finish another two by the time 2008 rolls around. Get busy on your next book. It's all you can do.

Jane said...

What happens at the end of five weeks, one wonders? The agent would refuse an offer even if the editor came on his knees begging, a pail of gin in one hand and a contract with a "very nice deal" in the other?

I'm also wondering what the author expects to see in the cover letter. Either it's the truth and the author knows it, or it's a pack of lies and the author is better of not knowing what the agent says. But does the author really think the agent wrote, "I have this manuscript, and it's okay--it'll probably earn out if the advance isn't too high." Or is it more likely the agent is saying, "I stayed awake all night reading this, and then I couldn't get to sleep in the morning because it was so good I *had to read it again!* This is guaranteed to sell a million copies."

Anonymous said...

I also find it a little strange that the author would want to see the cover letter the agent wrote. What would the point be? I think your agent will be VERY annoyed by that question.

However, as another poster pointed out, you do have a right to know what the responses are. My agent automatically sends me copies of rejections within two weeks of receipt. Another writer I know receives them as a batch on a quarterly basis. Another author friend gets monthly updates via email from her agent. As for where my work is being submitted, I know my agent is hitting up all the major publishers. I trust her to do her job while I do mine.

Of course, I still jump every time the phone rings.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, you completely dodged the writer's questions.
Political season must be getting to you, too.

Anonymous said...

Five weeks? I understand setting a deadline if the book is at auction and there are offers on the table, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.

My agent was happy to show me the cover letter for my novel and keep me updated on where the book was submitted, who had bid and who had passed. But I didn't drive her insane with a flurry of phone calls and emails.

Maya said...

You do realize that this is not about the cover letter, or about where your manuscript is being sent, don't you?

This is about your feelings of helplessness and wanting to assert a sense of control over the situation.

Save some time and a lot of aggravation. Accept that you have NO control in this instance. All you can do is spend your time wisely in the interim.

Foolish ways to spend your time: annoying your agent with silly inquiries and requests. When s/he has something to tell you, s/he will be in touch.

BTW, you DO need to know where your manuscript is submitted, but this is not the time to go to the hill on that issue.

Focus on your writing.

Good luck.

Miss Snark said...


vote THAT.

skybluepinkrose said...

I agree; this is a control issue. Control freaks make jittery clients, at best. At worst, they become pesky pains in the butt, liable to be dumped as soon as the contract expires.

This is also a patience issue. Patience is not waiting when you really should be acting. Patience is waiting for that which should be waited for. This situation requires patience.

Are we to assume this person landed an agent in less than five weeks? How has s/he reached this point and can't wait five weeks? Should we break the news that sometimes it's 55 weeks?

Dorthygale said...

Take a breath. What you need is a zen approach here, and endurance reminder. You sent your ms out into the world and now you need to let it go. Let your agent do the worrying. Just put it out of your mind and think about the 25 other looming projects to fill your time between now and whenever you hear back (because it might--read probably will--take longer than five weeks). But you have Halloween just around the corner, and then Thanksgivng and Christmas. There are themed issuse of magazines that need stories, new novels to outline and begin. If you desperately need something to fill your time and mind so completely you can't possibly worry about the ms your agent just sent, consider doing Nanowrimo this november. You won't have time for anythingh else.

Forget about them, and when your agent dcoes get back to you with news--good or bad, the bad won't hurt so much, and the good will be a delightful surprise.


Take a look, Nano just might save your life ;)

Anonymous said...

RE: Political season must be getting to you, too.

If it were not getting to Miss Snark, then I'd begin to worry since only the profoundly brain-dead aren't worried about the midterm elections.

Anonymous said...

Waiting is what you HAVE to do, but no one said you had to enjoy it. It is the most unpleasant part of the whole experience for me (yes even more unpleasant than any rejections I get). I sympathise with the person who posed the question. But he/she will have to find a way to manage/cope with the amount of time it takes. Chocolate and alcohol work well for me. I also occasionally like to read bad books which make me feel better about my own chances of getting published.

Minty Fresh

I just had to comment because I loved my word verification so much (hugdet)

Maya said...

Skybluepinkrose: I think you're being too hard on the writer.

Over time, most adults develop a sense of competency in their lives. When they start a new endeavor (like becoming a writer), they are forced to begin over again at square one on the grid. Accustomed to "feeling" in control, they don't like it.

If the writer can put him/herself in the agent's shoes and imagine how s/he would feel if someone with no knowledge demanded to see a letter s/he had written, s/he'll might understand it better.

Control is an illusion with which we soothe ourselves.

You might as well learn to let it go now, or you'll burn out (and burn out your agent) long before you see your book in print.

Maya (whose admittedly "funky" book took almost eight months to sell)

MichaelPH said...

Channel that energy into the next project. I know my favorite book/story always is the one I'm working on. Get a new story you're passionate about (easier said...) but that'll take your mind off the submission.

Mark said...

You have to start another project. I'm writing a third while still peddling the last two at the same time with overlap. Moreover, a project has to be set aside before going back for revisions. All successful writers do this.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of writers go through culture shock when they start actively submitting their work, either to agents or through agents. Publishing is a weird industry and long silences are the norm, not the exception. In most businesses, things don't work this way. I come from the world of advertising, where you're expected to move fast. Now that I have an agent, I've had to adjust my timeclock.

And yes, focusing on the next book makes all the difference. For me, this was tough because I'm working on a series. But if the first book doesn't sell, the second one won't have a prayer. I FINALLY decided to start something totally different. I'm no longer wandering around the house in my pajamas muttering to myself.

Imelda said...

Waiting stinks. How about setting a goal to have your next book finished before you hear about this one. That will give you something else to thing about.

Sex helps, too. I imagine exercise would too, but I'm a writer - I don't do exercise.

Understand, suffering is part of the deal and just get on with it - and eat low fat, because if you are anything like me, the stress is going to play merry hell with your digestion!

lizzie26 said...

Have some chocolate. Have some peppermint schnapps. Better yet, have some chocolate peppermint schnapps. That's what keeps me happy and patient. Sort of.

Mark said...

"Sex helps, too. I imagine exercise would too, but I'm a writer - I don't do exercise."

Oh Imelda, there's a correlation to be made here.

Simon Haynes said...

"Sex helps, too. I imagine exercise would too, but I'm a writer - I don't do exercise."

Sex isn't exercise? Damn, I guess I'll have to ride a bike instead.

Imelda said...

Indeed, Mark, indeed... correlate away, be my guest. Anyting for the fans ;>

Anonymous said...

Stuff the world peace, I'd go for writtenwydds advice. Especially no 1 mixed with regular employment. Nothing like it for taking your mind off things.

Lincoln Crisler said...

Yeah dude... just work on your next project. Five weeks isn't anything... and this is coming from one of those ADD dudes that wants an answer RIGHT FRICKIN' NOW. Short stories are great for teaching patience. It's worked out for me... I've been published every month since July, and already have December lined up, so I must be doing something right. When my first big manuscript goes out into the world, I think I'll be able to trust whoever I contract with.

Pita said...

Agree with all the encouragement above. I've heard nairy a peep for 6 months about a script that my agent was raving about. It will sell, or it won't - at this point there's zero you can do about it. Release it - no longer your problem, until further notice. Begin book 2. Become a better writer. Do charity work. But try not to worry, and don't bug your hard-working agent with back seat driving.

Anonymous said...

Okay, how the heck do you get to the point the writing doesn't define you? I'm a professional writer, and I can guarantee that it defines me. And that's the way I want it.

Texas WordSorter said...

Please be very patient with the waiting, as agonizing as it might be. I speak from experience -- nothing will tick off an agent or publisher more than being "aggressive." It's hard, as a writer, to stay patient. But remember these folks have to sort through a lot of chaff before they come to the wheat.

One of the above posts is right -- six weeks is nothing, though 19 months is a little extreme :-).

The other option, if you're impatient, is to work through a print-on-demand publisher (and I'm probably going to let the cat out of the bag on THIS one, LOL). There are some good ones out there.

Upside is, the book is looked at and published almost immediately. Downside, of course, is that your coverage wouldn't be as strong in book stores and other outlets. The national chains aren't nuts about PODs.

Anway, good luck with it all.

Anonymous said...

Chocolate. Sex. Schnapps. Writing. All those things help. ;-) You've *got* to relax and let go. There may be a point to fret and panic, but 5 weeks ain't it. Heck, I went 6 months on a short story once, and when I finally made an inquiry, it turned out the editor had been wrestling the magazine's review board to get them to accept my story! They didn't, but the point is ... try to presume no news is good news. You'll eat yourself hollow if you anguish the whole time your manuscript is out.

And for pity's sake, WRITE! My first novel is, as of last week, out in submission. I am resolutely NOT looking at my calendar or my watch, because I know I'll just end up chewing the furniture. So I'm working on my next book and throwing my leftover energies into the other things in my life that make me happy. Like old movies, good books, and Starbucks with my other half. ;-)

Relax. Impatience will kill you. Zen-think, whether acquired or induced, is a good thing.
Cheers ~

G. Atwater

Grapeshot said...

It takes patience to acquire patience and I've never had enough patience to get some.

On the other hand:
When she got tight
Everything was all right
So we kept her provided with gin.

hanging by a thread in canada said...

Full requested by publisher: end of March
7 months later...

Booze. Paint your whole entire house. Send kid to college. Work for a living. Beg for mercy every morning and sob yourself to sleep every night. Drive spouse crazy. Break up with the manuscript by telling it you don't give a good goddamn if you never hear from it again. Start writing the next one.

zdgsok. "this sucks" 3 martinis later.