Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

Joined the Army to get in shape.
But all I do is hurry and wait.
(Sound off.)
One, two.
(Sound off.)
Three, four.
(Sound off.)
One, two, three, four.

One, two.
Three, four!

When I was in the Army, hurry up and wait defined my life.

Years later as I pursue my publishing dreams, little has changed. That phrase still defines my life.

In a world of instant everything, the wheels of publishing continue to move at what seems to be the same rate it has moved for at least the last thirty years.

Hurry Up and Wait Publishing Version

Here is a simple formula that can be utilized to estimate wait time for submitted manuscripts,.
1. Assign the manuscript the value of 1 or 2 or 3, according to whether it a query, partial or complete.

2. Multiply that number by the submission policy of the submitter, based on the following values:
4=Will respond in 4 to 6 weeks
5= Will respond in 6 to 8 weeks
10= No response time provided.

3. To that number add the following points for these special features:
4 =Snail mail query.
5= No 'received your email' auto generated response.
6= Disallows multiple submissions

4. Subtract 1 point for the following caveats:

Requested material.

Allows multiple submissions.

Contest win and requested material.

5. Take the product of the above and then subtract the number of letters in your first name from that total.


The final number equals the number of weeks before you can expect a response.

A recent Seekerville survey which can be found in the Independent Journal of Unpublished Writers estimates that the average wait time is between four weeks and six weeks for a query. The estimated response time for a partial is four weeks to four months. Finally, the estimated wait time on a full manuscript is four months to one year.

Today I am releasing the results of an online Seeker study of average response times. Results are in percentages.

Have I made it very clear that you have quite a bit of hurry up and wait time as an unpublished writer?

In Seekerville one of our mottos is, Friends Don't Let Friends Whine Amok, so I'd like to offer a revolutionary solution.


By the time the heavens open up, the angel chorus sings hallelujah and that agent or editor croons in dulcet tones, 'We want you!" it is suggested that in a perfect world you have the following:

1. A drawer full of manuscripts
2. The ability to estimate how fast you write.
3. A strategic plan for writing to meet your next contract.

If you sit around waiting for the mail man and eight months have passed, you have not only gotten older but missed an opportunity to write the next manuscript. Will you be prepared when an editor asks, 'What else do you have?"

In author Linda George's workshop, Use It or Lose It, she shares a few wise words on writing.

In order to write really well you must get a million words on paper.

You don’t learn by reusing old stuff—you learn by writing new books.

Tools To Assist You While You Wait:

1. Writing Meter:

A writing meter can help you chart your progress on your next project while you wait for a response from that editor or agent.

Ross Ink recently shared The Top 6 Writing Progress Meters.

2. Tracking Calendar:
You can download Julie Hood, The Organized Writer's, free e-calendar which features
  • Motivational quotes for writers
  • Holidays

  • Monthly To Dos

  • Monthly Focus Activities

  • Reminder checklists

  • Monthly goal tracker for the number of words you write and the queries sent

  • Links to writing and organizing books

  • Seasonal query recommendations.
3. Free Writing Tracking Software and Graphs

  • Plotcraft a downloadable database for tracking all the ideas you might have.

  • Peder Hill's Book Tracking Graph. Download is free. Go to the bottom of the page for the download. This uses an Excel format.

  • Novel Progress 2.0 is a free app that will allow you to create a graph of your progress in writing a NaNoWriMo style novel. You enter your wordcount and it updates a graph showing you how much progress you have made. NovProg2 will also show you how far you are through your daily goal, and your total goal. Placing you mouse over a bar in the graph will show a tool tip with that day's word count.

So what do you think?

By the time you hear back from a query you could have your next partial written.
By the time you hear back on a partial you could have your next novel written.
And by the time you hear back on a full manuscript you could have the next two books in the series finished.

Writer, writer don't be blue
I was once unpublished too.
Sold a book and what do you know?
Now I have to write ten more.

(Sound off.)
One, two.
(Sound off.)
Three, four.
(Sound off.)
One, two, three, four

One, two. Three, four!


  1. Um, actually I am still unpublished. It's just a cadence song people.

    Today is Scone Tuesday. Your choice of maple with maple icing and cinnamon raisin with vanilla icing. Java is hot.

    Now tell me. What do you do during WAIT TIME?

  2. I do exactly what you say to do - I write! Right now, I'm revising/editing my recently finished rough draft (my third ms). I want to spend a lot of time polishing it up.

  3. Tina, if I had quit writing while I waited I wouldn't have four books written right now. Hurry up and wait is so apropos. (Is that how you spell that?) In fact, I'm really sick of hurry up and wait. If hurry up and wait was a small furry animal I would shoot it between the eyes.

    Just sayin'.

  4. Brava, ladies!!!

    Three and four msc's way to go.

  5. I loved all the helpful links for counting your progress! Thanks for that!

  6. Good morning, Sherrinda.

    I am actually going to try Novel Progress this long weekend and see if it is something that I can use.

  7. Tina, wouldn't that be 'write ten mo'?

    Thanks as always for the encouragement. I hope you Seekers know how much your words benefit -- whether just for fun or for all the help with the writing craft!

  8. Tina ... how someone as creative as you can still be unpublished is one of life's many mysteries ... a mystery that I hope and pray will be solved VERY SOON!!

    Excellent post! Like Katie and you, I WROTE while I hurry up and waited, because quite frankly, I needed something to get my mind off the awful rat race of trying to get published (insert cold shiver here).

    Which was a good thing, because as many of you know, I garnered a total of 45 rejections on A Passion Most Pure, ONE of which took ... are you ready? Three years to hear back from the publisher, who, admittedly, had lost the manuscript for a couple of years and then found it and promptly rejected it.

    Fortunately for me, the book had sold by then, so that did help to take the sting out ... almost. Let's face it -- rejections are never easy, but if you have to have them (and we all do), then I suppose this is the way to do it!


  9. Tina, you're post said it all! The links are great resources! I regret not writing more during my unpublished years. Instead I revised and revised, trying to sell my books. By the time I sold, I had four and should've had eight. But hindsight is 50/50 and we don't get redos. At least I had the good sense to leave my first book under my bed. LOL

    Hmm, the cinnamon raisin scones are delicious!


  10. Oops that should've been Your post. That's what I get for not revising. LOL


  11. Awesome.

    Yeah, in between contests, critiquing, etc.....write, write, write. If I didn't, I think I'd die waiting. Doing a lot of reading helps too. :-)

    Great post, loved it.

  12. You know me. I write. Always have.

    I think it kept me sane. (shut up, Ruthy)

    But fundamentally, I think I kept writing because I couldn't stop. That's what it boils down to. I just write, kinda compulsively.

    I just finished another book and the whole time I was rasslin' that book into completion my day dreaming time was either about that or about the next book.

    I started a new one yesterday and I've had the opening scene growing and twisting and exploding in my head for weeks.

    Typing those first words of the new book (I know, first words, who knows if they'll survive revisions) felt like this huge relief, this scene has been pressing to get out for a long time.

    so, yeah, I write.

    Three books and four books, way to go Katie and Melanie. I'm proud of you!

  13. The amazing thing is how accurate the response time was for my last full request from an agent. My number was 30, but I got the rejection in 29 weeks.

  14. LOVE this! (the scones are pretty good too...)

    I ditto everyone else, during wait time, I WRITE, or edit/revise. I'm in that edit/revise stage right now and SO want to get back to writing. Hopefully soon....

  15. Walt, that is too funny..funny cool.

    I believe Mary had 3,400 books done when she sold.

  16. Here's my opening paragraph.

    Actually this is good. I wrote it yesterday and today I went to read it, thinking to share it here and guess what???

    I found I didn't WANT to share it here....how significant is that as proof is was no good?????

    So I've rewritten it for the first time already.

    Tom Linscott clawed at the nearly sheer rock. The blood on his fingertips made the rock slippery.

    He froze, afraid to make a wrong move and fall. That scared him and so he did what any thinking man did when he something scared him. He got mad.

    Wow, I've rewritten it two more times just since I typed it in this comment box. WIP indeed.

  17. Oh my, that time log is depressing!! But you're right. Keep writing so you have more to offer when the time comes.

  18. Tina, your blog posts are so entertaining. Thanks for the lift this morning.

  19. Tina,

    I always move on to my next project when I send a submission but the frustrating part of hurry up and wait for me, is when you allow enough time to pass, follow up on your submission only to find out they never received it OR rejected it but you never received the notice! (Obviously, Julie experienced this frustration too).


  20. When I read the title to this post, I giggled. I married a Navy man 6 months ago and have become very adept in a short amount of time at the HURRY UP AND WAIT!!!

    Write, write again... write some more.

    I need a person around here to slap my fingers and put them back on the keyboard for things other than "surfing"

    Thanks for the reminder and the laugh.

    *nabs a maple scone and runs*

  21. Our next survey should be on who has the most manuscripts under the bed.

    I have 8.

  22. My mom remembers when "Sound Off" was on the radio during a date with a guy she really, really, really liked. And THAT was their song ;-)

    She married someone else.

    Anyway ... I am in waiting mode on a couple of things. I hope to have the rough draft of my WIP done before school lets out.

    I am trying to keep rolling on other ideas.

    Mmm ... scones are good with black coffee.

  23. 3,400 books is a little high, Tina, but there were plenty of them. In fact it got to a point where I didn't know if all those unpubbed books were a sign of persistance and hard work ... or a monument to failure.

  24. I love Scone Tuesday. Tomorrow is Waffle Wednesday, much to my children's delight. Who needs fruits and veggies for dinner? All a growing body needs is syrup and Beligum waffles with a nice healthy dollop of butter.

    Now I'm off to write a synopsis for a Heartsong series I want write and sell. Yipee. Good thing Missy posted on GMC a few months back. Or maybe weeks.

    And in case anyone was wondering...

    TBL finalists results are being delayed due to a historical scorseheet needign to be returned. I do know who the LC and SC finalists are, but I'm not talking.

    Of course, I am bribeable.

    Hmm. Maybe I'll take a nap instead of writing that synopsis.

  25. I love posts that help me put things into perspective! Yes, I am going to have to wait for certain things in my writing career. But there is much to do in the meantime. Thanks!

  26. Scones are lovely. Just lovely.

    Tina, what a wonderful post. I like the formula and the sound-off.

    Although it's hard to picture your soft, gentle, easy-going affable nature equipped with combat gear and packing heat.


    Of course then we get the Glynnas of this world, who skew the mean to an unbelievably short response time and make the rest of us wannabes look REALLY BAD.

    But since we love her and are bursting buttons at how smart SH was to grab her, we'll overlook her effect on the wait-'til-you-hear scale.

    That whole year thing?


    It happens!


  27. The keep writing phase is huge.



    Resting on your laurels (especially when there are none)is just wrong.

    Hand me another scone, please.

    And Mary, that monumental failure possibility now looms as a salute to tenacity, brilliance, and talent.

    (Did I get that right, dear? Was that how you wanted me to say it?)


  28. Okay, everyone's gone now but I have to say that reading Julie's comments about her rejections helps. A model of tenacity!

    Not that I've been rejected. Well, I think you have to submit to be rejected, aye?

    And - thanks Gina for mentioning the TBL. I've been wondering.

    Gina, my hero! Congrats on your Daphne and Genesis finals!

  29. Hey Tina - having served for 20 yrs, I love your song!

    Yes, I know the 'hurry up and wait' theme very well. At the moment I'm waiting on the results from the TBL contest but don't want to bug Gina - yet. Although the thought has crossed my mind they've been out for awhile and I somehow missed them. And I also wonder if I really want to know, you know?

    Thanks for the links. They're much appreciated.

  30. Julie and Mary are our poster children for perseverence. We keep a photo of them on a dart board in the game hut on Unpubbed Island.

    When we are feeling low we toss a dart..never of course aiming for vital parts and chant the mantra...of course I can't tell you the mantra as it is the secret mantra.

  31. I would like to add - I'm working on that drawer full of mss but I'm a ball of nerves.

    This past week I've been waiting for 4 contest results and 1 submission response at the same time. Very, very nerve-wracking. Someone on my blog (not sure which one) asked if there was anything I could do to space it our better. Uh... no. The contests happened to run at the same time. And the submission was a very informal one sent via emails after being in the right place at the right time.

    Yes, I'll continue to have a ms on the go, one in a contest and one in submisstion, but better timing would really help. :)

  32. Ohhhhh, I just read that Gina was bribeable regarding the TBL contest results. Girl, I need your address and knowledge of your favorite kind of chocolate/flowers/storetogetagiftcardat.

    Thanks! *grin*

    I amend, by the way, what I do while I wait. I try to bribe the judges/agents/editors! I'll let you know how it works out for me, LOL

  33. Hmmm - I have Gina's email address...

  34. thank you, ruthy.

    For some reason that old BeeGee's song from Saturday Night Fever is running through my head. "Stayin' Alive. Stayin' alive."

    Ooo, oo, oo, oo stayin' aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive"

    I managed to is all I can say.

  35. Good luck, Anita.

    And good luck to all you dust bunny writers out there. You know who you are. Someday those manuscripts under the bed will come in handy and your fans will be thrilled you are such a 'fast' writer.

  36. Tina, I love this post and your approach to waiting. Thanks for the links (I always wondered where to get those progress bars) and the laughs. You always tell it like it is! :)

  37. ROFL, Tina! Talk about a great boot camp motivator!

    Loved your graphics and will visit the sites offering organizational gadgets.

    I'm writing/editing a ms with plans to submit in June. I'm plotting out the last book in that series. I'm catching up on novel writing exercises (notice physical exercise isn't mentioned), and I'm working my way down great Seeker books!!

    Seeing friends realize their dreams is a huge motivator, too.

    You are truly amazing : )

  38. Thanks Audra and Anne..it helps to only surround yourself with cool Seeker friends who have an equally perverse sense of humor...or in the case of Gina...TWISTED.

  39. I'm really glad I found this blog! What a lot of great tips and motivators! During Nano (and even now) is Write or Die by Dr. Wicked. You set the amount of time and your goal (I usually go for 1000 words in an hour) and then you write. Everytime you slow down,annoying music plays. Doing this shuts off my mental editor and just forces me to get words on paper without getting caught up in critique. I can always edit later, but I can't edit a blank page! Here's the link:


  40. OMGOSH KAT!!! What an awesome concept. Love it. Thank you for sharing and welcome to Seekerville.

  41. This is a great article!

    I have 'googled' "Independent Journal of Unpublished Writers" and cannot find anything. Can someone lead me in the right direction?


  42. Edwina, if you check the Seekerville bylaws. Article 6 paragraph 2.

    And I quote--

    "80 percent of what Tina says is TONGUE FIRMLY PLANTED IN CHEEK."

    Need I say more?