The Publishing Quest: Hurry Up and Wait

Wendy Lawton



Blogger: Wendy Lawton

If you are a planner, no career is tougher than that of a published writer. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could sketch out a timeline? In a perfect world it might look something like this:

  • Sign with the perfect agent– six months
  • Work with agent to finesse proposal and manuscript– six months
  • Agent shops proposal– three months
  • Offers come in–three months
  • Contract signed–at the end of three month offer period
  • First half of advance arrives– upon signing contract
  • Book due– six months later
  • Book accepted, 2nd half of advance rec’d– within a couple weeks
  • Edits come– with ample time to respond
  • Galleys come– with ample time to respond
  • Second book contracted– so that there is no down time writing-wise
  • First book published– plenty of time to celebrate
  • Marketing for first book– happens long before book is published and long afterward
  • Writing Book Two–while doing all marketing tasks for Book One. Creativity flows no matter how many little details need to be addressed.
  • Book Two due– six months later. Plan for book to be completed early to allow plenty of time for rewriting.
  • Book Two accepted, 2nd half of advance rec’d– within a couple weeks
  • Edits come– again
  • Galleys come–again
  • Third book contracted– like clockwork
  • Second book published– see schedule above and repeat.

Sounds like a plan, right? As Robert Burns said, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men gang aft agley.” (In today’s English: The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.)

Let me take a few of these and shed some light.

Sign with an agent. If you follow agent blogs you already know that finding the right agent may be one of the toughest steps. When you decide to start seeking an agent your manuscript may not be ready. If that’s the case you will have to receive a boatload of declines (or silence) and revamp to start all over again. There’s no way to “make it happen.” Putting a time limit on this would just frustrate you.

Work with your agent to finesse your proposal. This may take no time at all, if your proposal was near perfect when the agent signed you or it may be a very long process. Remember, the agent has dozens of clients and his or her schedule may not allow for the kind of immediacy that would be optimal.

Agent shops proposal. Writers get impatient when the agent takes what feels like a long time to shop the proposal. Trust me, no one wants to sell your book more than your agent, but we know that we are likely to get only one shot with your book at each house so we hold it back until it’s ready and then we work hard to be strategic as to the timing. We want the book to have the best chance of success. We pay attention to what is happening in publishing and with each editor, trying to give them what they are looking for at the best possible time.

Offers come in. This is not a given. Sometimes multiple offers come in. Other times we get declines or silence. There is no timeline here. It is a buyers market and editors are up to their eyeballs in possibilities. They have books going through the editing process at the same time. Too much work, too little time. When we don’t have any luck on the first round of submissions we get creative and find other houses that may have an interest. Still no bites? We may have to come back to you and suggest we put this manuscript in a drawer and try another book. It’s not unusual for a second book to sell first and a first book to be published later when the author is successful and the publisher is looking for more books by the author.

Contract signed. Even after an offer is accepted it may take a very long time to get the contract, depending on how backed up the contract department is. When the contract comes your agent has to go work on it– sometimes there are many back-and-forth negotiations at this point. When the contract is finalized, your agent requests signing copies. Only then will you receive it. The first half of your advance usually arrives thirty days after all the signatures have been collected.

Book Accepted: You may break your neck to meet your deadline and then. . . silence. The editor must read your manuscript and accept it before your check is ordered. Editors work hard to do this in a timely manner since they often have tight deadlines but if another author was late or a book was slipped in before yours, your editor may not be able to get to your book right away. This can be a time of self-doubt and bitten fingernails if you don’t understand the process.

Edits, galleys, etc. Remember the editor is also on a tight timeline. You may receive edits and have to jump on them immediately to make the changes by the deadline. The same with galleys. This is where the author can offer grace and flexibility.

Marketing. Many authors are surprised that they don’t hear from the marketing department right away. Hopefully you’ll hear from the publisher with an idea of what you can expect. Your book will come up on their calendar on a certain day and everything will be put in motion. Active marketing for your book will end on a specified day as well. You need to know when your “season” of active marketing will begin and end. After that there will be bits and spurts and you may continue your own marketing but by and large, the push will be over and word-of-mouth must kick in.

Second book contracted. In a perfect world. . .  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. This is where many authors get discouraged with the journey. They know that in order to keep their readers engaged they need to offer a steady flow of books. The publisher, on the other hand, may want to wait to see how the first book does before he commits. This can be an uneasy waiting time.


I could go on, but you get the picture. Until a successful multi-book career is established, the writer needs to be able to wait with grace. This career is an exercise in patience.

How does one find the patience for this kind of journey? Some have thrown their hands up at the seeming powerlessness of the traditionally published author and decided to self-publish. Do you think they face any similar challenges?



113 Responses

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  1. Jeanne T says:

    Wendy, how did you know I am an uber-planner? Thankfully, God has already been teaching me about the necessity of depending on Him during this writing journey. As much as I would love to determine my timeline for “my” writing journey, I know God holds it, and me, within His perfect plan. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Really. 🙂 As I progress, my prayer is to keep my hope in Him and remember that His timing is the best timing. Hopefully, this will bring me through the discouraging times.

    • Jill Kemerer says:

      You have such a great attitude, Jeanne. Wonderful point of view. 🙂

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And I’ve often wondered if God doesn’t have us on this journey to teach us more than writing. When you meet a successful writer you can almost bet she has on-the-job experience in patience and perseverance.

      • Leah E Good says:

        I agree, Wendy. I’m not by nature a patient person, but writing and waiting for contest results or word about submissions has definitely developed my patience! It has actually carried over into other areas of life too, which is great.

      • Jeanne T says:

        I think you must be right, Wendy. Patience and perseverance must be part of the resume of a writer/author/novelist.

    • Lynn Johnston says:

      Since I don’t see any point to self-publishing, I am happy to play the waiting game as long as I understand the rules. Thanks so much to Wendy for giving me a peek into the process. Thankfully, I too understand its all God’s plan. I would be stressed if this was my only form of income. Fortunately, I went into writing knowing that its a long process to get results. I am happy as long as I know that it’s possible and I’m not just wasting time.

  2. Jill Kemerer says:

    You asked, “How does one find patience…”

    I think that’s the reason God put the desire to write in me–He knew I needed to learn patience!

    Seriously, when I started writing, I had this great timeline which was similar to the fantasy one you outlined. I clearly remember telling my husband, “I’ll give it a year, and if I don’t have a contract by then…” Oh, the lessons I’ve learned!!

    I also had a lot of pride. God blessed me with a lot of “no’s” and silence. I didn’t see them as blessings at the time (and I still struggle with this!), but when I step back and see how my relationship with God went from me telling him what I wanted to me trusting Him to give me what I need…well, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    Maybe I will need to wait a long, long time until my publishing dreams come true. I’ve made peace with that. I just pray God keeps me humble and waiting on Him.

  3. Wendy, As I read through your “real world” take on the process, I thought, “Been there, done that, the T-shirt no longer fits.” The publishing journey isn’t one that can be planned, and this drives an obsessive-compulsive like me absolutely nuts. I’m fortunate to have a great agent who can talk me down from time to time. Other than that, I’ve learned to trust God and keep plugging. I appreciate your sharing.

  4. Tari Faris says:

    When I started the journey of publication about 2 years ago, that was me. I tend to be a planner with lists and lists of lists. Had I read this post back then, I might just have wanted to throw my hands up. However, God has brought me through so much and taught me so much over these two years. The biggest thing He has taught me is contentment for where he has me now. For so long i felt as if I were waiting for the next step. But I realized, I am not in a holding pattern as God works with others first. God is doing work in me now, where I am. I am writing, reading, learning, and growing in my craft and in Him, now. That is where he wants me, now. So, I guess I am doing my best to embrace the now and use today to be ready for whatever tomorrow brings.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      A friend of mine, Lloyd Ahlem, once wrote this:
      “There is spiritual and emotional wilderness. The mature know that when they seem disconnected, the only sustaining experience is worship. When they emerge from the wilderness they are wide eyed at what God has accomplished while they wandered. When God seems most absent from us, it is likely he is keeping us out of the way of his accomplishing what he intends. We can learn to relax a bit in these seeming absences and anticipate some very interesting experiences when they are over. Paul got stuck in Asia Minor thinking he ought to be on his way to Rome. To fill his time he wrote most of Romans. What a time filler. When he got to Rome he found a church that already knew what he was thinking and was likely not confused by his rambling discourses.”

    • Jeanne T says:

      “But I realized, I am not in a holding pattern as God works with others first. God is doing work in me now, where I am.” Loved this, Tari. S

  5. Lori says:

    There is no such thing as a career running like clockwork. It only happens in fairy tales (hence the term “They lived happily ever after.”), old TV show and definitely old movies from the Thirties, Forties, and some Fifties. (Frank Capra movies come to mind.) There is no such thing has “having it all” and if someone appears to have it all it definitely had to be a lot of work and I am sure they would tell you they don’t have it all.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      So true, Lori. Successful author, Debbie Macomber, used to say that becoming an overnight success took twenty years.

      • Beverly Lewis said the same thing when I heard her speak last year. She said that when her first successful book took off, she heard people calling her an “overnight success,” when in actuality, she had almost 20 published books to her name already!

  6. Sarah Thomas says:

    Wendy, your timeline is spot on. As a matter of fact, it might move a teensy bit slow. I love schedules and check lists and getting things DONE. I appreciate other folks’ comments about being called to write in order to learn patience. Ack.

    My method for preserving the illusion that I have any control at all is to plan and map out what’s within my purview. My writing schedule. Editing. Conferences, workshops, blogging, service projects, etc. It keeps me busy and makes me feel like progress is being made–in some direction!

  7. Thank you, Wendy, for another needed dose of reality. I’m in the same situation as the others – lack of patience. What you didn’t mention is what comes at the very beginning – the length of time it takes to write the first book to the point where it’s ready to query. 🙂 That’s a long time, and it’s hard to see the end sometimes. Two things I’ve found help me have patience is to grow my blog and continue to send out articles and short stories. Gratification there is a bit faster, and I feel like I’m having some success with each publication or added follower.

  8. Amanda Dykes says:

    Such a helpful post, thank you, Wendy! “You need to know when your ‘season’ of active marketing will begin and end”– I’d never considered this before. Just one of the many insights in this post for me.

    Has the B&S crew considered compiling a list of links like this post to send out to newly-agented writers with their contracts? Just a thought, as you all have so faithfully put your knowledge and wisdom into these blog posts; I can think of several that would make great reading for new Bookies as sort of “standard” operating procedure/being-agented-101 reading.

  9. I love how you’ve outlined the process while keeping it realistic enough to admit the plan is never perfect.

    Not being a patient person, I’ve simply had to go with the flow as my books have been published. One book came out earlier than planned and I didn’t have the right amount of time to put into the works all the marketing I wanted to for my seasonal title. The second book came out way too late, and since it is another seasonal title, I’m looking at next year before I can realize any real sales. I think God is determined to teach me patience one way or another. 🙂

    I bet self-published authors face similar, if not more challenging, issues considering everything is dependent upon their level of business savvy. This is one thing that has kept me from diving in.

  10. A timeline is a line, no one said anything about it being straight.
    One thing I’ve learned in my research this past year is that many Native American cultures do not view time in a linear manner, but in more of cyclical view. What needs to get done, will get done. Same with a lot of Latin American cultures. One thing we say on a daily basis on our mission teams in Bolivia is that if we’re meeting somewhere or hoping to complete a task, is that we’re functioning on “Canadian time”.

    If you drew your timeline, perhaps it would look like a vine, crawling and meandering along until everything popped open and wowed us all.

  11. Lisa says:

    I love this, God is so good. I been learning this… to hold onto my dreams loosely and give God room to do the molding and shaping. I thought my WIP was ready, it was not. That realization opened the door for me to completely rewrite it, I love what is coming onto the pages. It’s like a second chance to write my first novel. For sure not my timing, but kind of perfect all the same.

  12. Jan Thompson says:

    Wendy, I appreciate your reminder to be patient. Patience, a fruit of the Spirit, not of self!

    As a prepub writer, I have no idea how it feels like to have a novel published (I had an article published but articles are not novels). So it’s good to know that I need to be patient about the process.

    Good to find out more about the publishing world. When I sit down to write, I don’t think about publishing. All I want to do is write a story I want to read.

    I think this is why new writers need seasoned agents!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I know. I just wish I’d hurry up and learn patience. 😉

      I love that when you sit down you concentrate on the story. If we start “writing for publication” it would be easy to lose the joy of the story.

  13. Larry says:

    From what I gather, self-pubbed authors have similar stories to tell: trying to find the right artist to do their cover-art, then waiting for an open slot on the artists’ work schedule; trying to find a company to do the book-trailer, or barring that, trying to find the right software and learning to use the right software to make their own book-trailer; trying to find the right copy editor to go over their work (if they themselves aren’t a good editor); creating press releases and planning all marketing events; so forth and so forth.

    Now, which one is more fun? That might be a good question to ask an author of each route.

    • Larry says:

      As far as how one can put up with all the nonsense of the industry, I believe that there are a few reasons people have:

      1. It’s not their full-time job. It is more like their hobby, or maybe it’s like the guy who fixes that classic car in his garage while still having a day job and family responsibilities: not that he doesn’t put his best effort into it, it’s just that he has other duties he puruses first.

      2. It’s a luxuary. Slightly different from the first point, but distinct in that this is more based upon the financial ability of someone to pursue it, and / or overall has less of a commitment to getting to the goal. This personality is more likely to give up once they realize what the industry is like, as compared to “Well, I wrote a book and I guess I’ll send it out and get an offer before lunch.” Someone who tries writing because they are curious, or see it as an adventure.

      3. Those who feel like it is their calling.

      4. Those who are competent enough to make a living as a writer, and find the other duties, responsibilities, or general insanity of other industries they could be in to be much less desirable.

      5. Those who seek to make art. I make this distinct from those who feel writing is their calling, because one can feel that writing is their calling and yet produce romantic comedies or thrillers: entirely snobbish, yes, but it is a dinstinction. These people write with their soul, and their fuel comes from that terror of the ways of the world and the realities of history versus their defiance that they, in a sense, wield the very powers of creation itself, creating illuminated manuscripts like the monks of old, allowing for a decadent and wicked world to see some of the glory of creation and its Creator through their art. These people seek to defy the world, and the ways of the world, by creating that which transcends it.

      • Wendy Lawton says:

        Great insight, Larry. Except I’ll take exception to your comment that romantic comedies and thrillers cannot be art. That’s like saying Picasso was not a “serious” artist because he approached his craft with a dose of whimsey and humor.

        Artists/writers reveal their souls in a number of different “languages.”

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Good question, Larry. I think it depends on the author. If an author is high control and loves the business and marketing aspects of publishing, he might be the perfect one to self-pub. If the author longs to write to the exclusion of everything else, self-pubbing would be a worse nightmare than the waiting that comes with traditional publishing.

      • Larry says:

        Indeed, I didn’t mean to say that all romantic comedies or thrillers are incapable of being art (how could one dismiss the movies of Woody Allen as not being art, for example, and I recall Shakespeare, like Woody Allen, wrote some romantic comedies as well!).

        Instead, as you said, writers speak in different languages in their writing: and while there isn’t anything inherent to a particular genre that precludes it from being art, the language of art is indeed distinct, and while examples can be found in every genre, not every example from every genre is art.

        Not that there is anything wrong with that: but in regards to the different languages writers speak, when one speaks the language of art, a distinction must be made that it is something entirely different, and that it itself speaks to others in a different way.

  14. Alex says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Wendy. I am a major planner, but the more I live the more I realize that all my plans end up changing, anyway. Thanks for reminding me that patience is an important virtue in this business.

  15. Sue Harrison says:

    I once had a person (whom I didn’t know) phone me and say that she’d just finished writing her novel, and that she wanted me to give it to my publisher because she needed the advance money in 3 weeks. I gave her a gentle answer, but still she was quite put out with me that I did have the power to arrange for that money to be in her bank account asap.

    I look back at that phone conversation, and I laugh (although that day I wasn’t laughing), but the frustrating part is when I realize that I’ve slipped into that same attitude with God. OK, Lord, I’ve worked really hard on this novel so now I need You to….yada yada yada.

    Thank you, Wendy, for a post that made me smile and also helped me accept all over again the reality of the publishing world!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Too funny.

      It’s like the phone message that Janet Grant got at the office this morning. Here’s what she heard: “Hey, my name is ___________, and I have a book that needs to be published. Call me.” As Janet said, “What more could I possibly need to know?”

  16. Rick Barry says:

    Wendy, interesting that agents, too, can receive only silence back from editors. I realized the mass of submitting writers don’t always hear back, but I had wrongly assumed that agents were valuable enough in the process to earn at least a yea or nay. Another reality check for me. Thanks!

  17. Wendy, I appreciate the sense of community here, and I love your encouraging spirit.

    Waiting is hard, but I believe that’s what makes each milestone a bit sweeter.

    One of my greatest tongue-biters recently was when an acquaintance said, “I’m writing a little book, too, but I plan to publish my book immediately.”

    Yes, this person was speaking of the traditional route. And no, I didn’t burst his bubble. I smiled. And then I prayed for him.

  18. Wendy, I’ve had so much fun reading the comments here, I’ve forgotten the question! 🙂 (Had to scroll back to look) Ahh…patience. How does one find it for this journey? Bit by bit. I’ve found that having patience is a choice I make every day, sometimes every moment of the day. Patience is a muscle we have to use over and over before it becomes strong – but it’s that resistance against the muscle that causes it to grow. So though we don’t like to wait, it makes us stronger people with increasing character. It also helps that I’m a mother of four, the youngest being 2 1/2 year old twins and they provide a great deal of distraction. 🙂

  19. Hi Wendy,

    Rather than telling you how wonderful and timely your post is, can I say what I’m REALLY feeling right now?

    ARGH! GAH! KABOOM! SPLATOOIE! This is HARD! This journey, this road, this long-and-winding, uphill-both-ways, barefoot-in-the-snow, hailstones-the-size-of-boulders, desert-traversing, no-oasis-in-sight climb is HARD!

    I wanted to open your post and read something more like this: “Hurry up and wait… JUST KIDDING! You’re in and everyone loves you!”

    Okay. Now that I got that out of my system, it really is a timely and wonderful post. In fact, a friend and I paused this morning to pray about the writing journey we’re on, for patience, and for the GRACE necessary to BE patient.

    Thank you. Really. I mean it. Confirmation that the Lord hears even my weak cries.


    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And I’m guessing that for people who are patiently waiting to hear back from me, they long to tell me to stop blogging and get reading submissions. 🙂

    • Becky, YES, it is hard. HARD. I don’t even like looking over that timeline above because I’VE LIVED IT. Five years later, and STILL WAITING. I will add that signing with an agent happened MUCH faster than hearing back from my proposal submissions. But that’s MY story. It’s different for every writer.

      I’m thankful for friends/a husband and kiddos who pray me through this process. That said, I feel like my latest novel will be the last one I send out on submission. If it gets shot down, I will take the bull by the horns and get my books to my hungry readers some other way.

  20. Once when our family was going through a hard time my husband asked me how it was that I seemed to handle the stress so well. I told him, “That’s why God gave me wide hips, so I could carry the weight of the world.” It was a joke and he laughed (with me!) But it is true that God equips us to navigate our trials. He gives us what we need when we need it.

    Now I joke with my writing friends that I am really good at getting rejected. I’m a professional! Of course I wish I was really good at being successful instead, but one thing I do know is that I’m good at staying the course. I haven’t given up no matter how much I’ve been tempted to, and I can only attribute that to God’s provision for me.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I know an author that had none of the waiting times and none of the rejection we’re talking about here. She sort of sailed in because of a connection. Now a few years later she’s dealing with a huge wake-up call.
      It’s far better to work out the kinks before stepping onto the stage than have to stumble in front of an audience.

  21. Kind of like the line at the grocery store. You’re going to have to wait anyway, so it might as well be with grace.

    : )

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And yet isn’t it with those enforced waits that we too often display our gracelessness? I’d hate to have to watch a playback of me standing in lines with tellers or checkers who were too slow or too chatty or inept. I’m afraid it wouldn’t be my best performance.

  22. Sarah Sundin says:

    This article made me smile. When I got my first contract, my husband (a scientific, business-minded, left-brained person) sat down with me to work out a schedule. He had a lovely project management computer program he couldn’t wait to apply to my new career.

    Hubby: When’s your manuscript due?
    Me: August 1.
    Hubby (plugs date into program with satisfied smile): What’s the next step?
    Me: Content edit. About a month later.
    Hubby: About a month? What date?
    Me: When she’s done with it. She said about a month.
    Hubby (enters Sept. 1): The computer needs a date. What’s the next step?
    Me: The galleys. They’re supposed to come some time next spring.
    Hubby (looks at me like I’m insane): This spring? What month?
    Me: I don’t know. They come when they come.
    Hubby: I can’t put that in the computer. (Throws up hands at this very unscientific, unbusinesslike business.)

    Computer program abandoned.

    However…I do have a spreadsheet calendar I use to track my projects. I’ve figured out my publisher’s basic timing (plus or minus a month or two), and I enter which month I expect certain projects. Now I’m not blindsided by titling questionnaires, etc.

  23. Stephanie M. says:

    This business is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s so difficult to wait and wait for those emails to come when something has actually happened, but when you get them it’s as though the world has opened up. Totally worth the wait.

    Then you start waiting for the next one 🙂

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      So true. The high points are all the sweeter for how hard we’ve worked to get there. And, of course, we become high point junkies in the process. 🙂

  24. Thank you, Wendy, for this realistic timeline. I am a very high planner and this helps me, even the parts that say essentially “there’s no way to tell how long this will take.”

    As others have said, God’s grace is the key for me in regards to patience. I have not started my agent search yet, so I can’t say how I will do in regards all of this, but I hope that with knowing what you have shared today and with God’s grace, I can stay calm during this process. My plan (I have to have one) is once my queries are circulating, I will try to place them in God’s hands and mostly forget about them. While I am working on getting an agent, my focus will be on writing book two. And that is the basic plan for the whole process: do what I can do, get it finished, send it out and let it go, then focus on the next thing for me to accomplish. I can’t control anything once it’s out of my hands, so worrying about it is a useless waste of energy. To be honest, I think the bigger challenge for me will be getting edits back and having to “jump on them right away” to meet the deadline. I’m more likely to get stressed than impatient.

    That’s my plan. I just will thank God to have the “problem” of having my manuscript in the process of getting published the traditional way.

    Blessings! 🙂

  25. Fantastic post, Wendy. I’m going to print and keep for future reference. Thanks!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Thanks, Karen. Of course, you’re already a ways down the road. (Which means there will be different challenges, right?)

  26. Thank you for the thick, relevant application of reality Wendy. 🙂

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      You’re welcome, Jenni. As long as reality doesn’t discourage you, it’s good. I always have nightmares about saying something that will discourage the tender ego of the next Harper Lee.

  27. Tonya says:

    How do you know when you are ready to start looking for an agent?

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      I don’t know if the author herself can know. You almost need to get feedback from critique partners and at writing conferences. Stick your toe out a little at a time. Sit down with agents at conferences and see what they say. Begin querying. Test the waters.

  28. Peter Bakich says:

    I once had twenty five rejections because I wasn’t heading in the same direction as the editors/publishers/agents. So I began the convoluted journey of a POD adventure. Talk about hurry up and wait. Perseverance is a hard lesson but necessary.

    Author of Jesus Told Me To Do What? Looking Beyond The Golden Rule

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      That’s one of the reasons to self-pub. When you are creating something that doesn’t seem to find a home in the market.

  29. Thank you for the encouraging and on-target words, Wendy!
    I pulled a card from the Character Clues card game I taught when home schooling my two youngest children a decade ago. I used to keep the card in my bible, but it now is in plain view on my writing desk.

    Patience vs Restlessness

    Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it.

    “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulations worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope.” Romans 5:3-4

    This game that I considered pure gold when teaching my young ones, is equally applicable to their writing mother!

  30. I hope this year as I focus on God’s will I’ll be more patient as I wait on his timing.

    Thanks for sharing today!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And I think that’s the key– focus on God and what he’s doing rather than on our plans. The perspective changes everything.

  31. Anne Love says:

    This timeline is strangely comforting. Working full time, I think I could pace about like that. The thing that seems scary is to sign, and be way too pressured to meet a quick deadline. But the way you put it here,it actually seems more do-able for a bi-vocational writer.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      A bi-vocational writer is one of our favorite kinds of writers because without the pressure to make money we can make the kind of career decisions that build a solid career rather than having to find work to pay the bills.

      • Anne Love says:

        Oh thank you so kindly for the feedback Wendy. So often I haven’t quite known how to view this balance.

        It was P.J. Casselman that used the “bi-vocational writer” term and it struck such a cord with me. I had been feeling weirdly guilty for loving writing so much when I feel such a deep sense of call in my “real” job. Somehow the bi-vocational language gives me permission to have more than one calling.

        And yes, it would be nice to have some extra cash flow for my kids college, whether I’m published or not isn’t a deal-breaker. It takes the pressure off. Perhaps it makes it more fun too. 🙂

  32. The way you’ve described it, Wendy, of “waiting with grace” is so key. I have to stop and remind myself that none of us (myself and my publishing team) actually have to be working on my book, but they are because they believe in it and have backed it with their publishing house. That is incredibly humbling. Also looking at it that I could be doing a number of other things for a living, so even when it’s 1 in the morning and that editing deadline is calling, to remember that this work is such a joy. Whenever we get to do what we love, there is always a bright side to the hard work it takes. A great post! Thank you.

    • Joanne,
      What a beautiful reminder: “I have to stop and remind myself that none of us (myself and my publishing team) actually have to be working on my book, but they are because they believe in it and have backed it with their publishing house. That is incredibly humbling.”

      Thank you for that. It’s a wonderful gift to be believed in, isn’t it?


    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Good words, Joanne.

      BTW, I just finished your book, Be Still My Soul after so many recommendations on our blog last week. What a beautiful story. I can’t get it out of my mind. I’ve already recommended it to so many. There’s so much hope in a story of redemption. I can see why so many blog readers mentioned it as their favorite book of 2012.

      • Thank you so much, Wendy! That is the hugest compliment coming from you. Sarah Sundin told me yesterday that it was up on the side bar. I was so surprised! Be Still My Soul was an intimidating story to tell and to hear that the hope of redemption resonated with you is so encouraging!

  33. Ann Bracken says:

    I’m an obsessive researcher (I blame my job), so when I decided ‘Hey, I wrote a book, I wonder what it’ll take to get it published?’ I included learning all the steps. Boy, was I surprised. As a result, though, it doesn’t bother me that it’s taking this long. I’m only on my third edit and haven’t finished my second book, after all!

    I’d really like to print out this post and hang it up for all my friends and family who ask when my book is coming out. 😉

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      As a researcher, it would drive you crazy to see how many writer-hopefuls pen a book and then go straight to a publisher– any publisher– and ask to have it published. No understanding of the business side of writing at all.

  34. Reba says:

    Wendy- thanks for your post. I am a self-published author of 3 books #4 is well underway and let me assure you there is waiting here too. Maybe not as long as with Traditional Publishing but I have to wait on my editor, the publisher, the person working on the cover, and a few other people, and let’s be fair here, sometimes they have to wait on me. :0]
    I don’t think there are too many things in our world that doesn’t require some ‘Thank you for your patience in waiting.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Good insight, Reba. It sounds like your self-publishing strategy is working– three books and another on the way. Congratulations.

  35. Miles Howard says:

    Great post, Wendy. I’m currently debating my next course of action regarding some correspondences I had with a literary agent this past spring. The project in question is a nonfiction book that I queried to several agencies in November. One agent – whom we’ll call “Larissa” – replied with interest, and over the course of winter, we had several involved conversations about the book. I sent her my proposal and sample chapters in March, and as of this date, I have not heard a single word about it. (Other than a confirmation that Larissa received the proposal.)

    My gut response would be to assume Larissa is not interested in representing my book, but after reading such varied stories about waiting periods – and recalling the nature of our earlier conversations – I’d be surprised if she passed on the book without even a brief rejection note.

    I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the matter.