Even when you’ve accepted the oft-repeated truth that publishing is a slow process, it can be excruciating to wait for all the pieces to come together. Writing a manuscript can take significant time, but because that is active, you may find the stages between writing and publication surprisingly challenging.
Obviously, a good deal of patience is required in this career, but there are things you can do while you wait. Use the list below as a springboard for coming up with ways to be active in the in-between times.
What to Do While You’re Waiting to Be Published:
1. Start a new project.
When the revisions for your contracted manuscript are in, and you’ve handed your story off to the industry professionals who will run the next leg of the race for you, it’s time to get started on something new. Think both strategically and creatively! Is there a follow-up project that would be perfect for capturing the audience you are targeting with your current book? Or maybe your brain will turn to mush if you keep thinking about that topic and you need to do something completely different to reset your inspiration? Time writing is never wasted time. So keep up that writing habit while you wait for publication!
2. Research/find your target audience.
Even though you will likely have some marketing support when you publish traditionally, you will always be the best person to talk about (and sell) your book. Do you know how to find the readers who will listen? Where are they hanging out? And what else are they reading? Get to know your target audience so that you can interact with them. It will make you a better writer to engage with the reading community and pay attention to how reader expectations change in your genre over time.
3. Grow your relationships.
This one piggy-backs on the last suggestion. Part of your purpose in finding your audience is sales-related market research. But another big part is growing genuine relationships. The writing and reading community is wonderful to participate in actively – book people are good people! Do you have writer friends inside and outside of your genre that are cheering you on? Are you encouraging others? Participating in book clubs, writing groups, and social media can all be positive ways to grow relationships while you wait.
4. Create an Author Site
Many authors think that they should wait to create an author website because they don’t think it’s important to have one pre-publication or don't know what to put on it. While that's understandable, there's a lot you can do to start thinking about your brand and create a home base online for yourself. Think of it as a calling card. It's a great tool for helping agents, editors, and eventually readers to get a sense of who you are and for you to show us that you are ready to be professionally engaged online.
5. Study Your Craft
While you are waiting to find the perfect agent, or waiting for your agent to find the perfect editor, or waiting for the editor to bring your book into the world... keep learning! Pick up a book on worldbuilding, dialogue, non-fiction research, or even marketing. Think of this "down time" as "in between time" and use it wisely to become an even better writer! We have a long list of suggested books and resources right here on our website!
6. Take Deep Breaths
The tough reality is that it can take two years from receiving an offer from a publisher to holding your book in your hands. There are teams of people invested in your work, and they all have jobs that take a certain amount of time. They are also coordinating with each other to make sure everything is in place to maximize the chances of your book reaching its audience and selling well. Authors are busy team members for certain parts of this process and will feel sidelined for others. Take some deep breaths and remember that you will be busy again soon. You know what they say about good things and waiting.
by Anjanette Barr