Waiting, waiting, and…still waiting

Sometimes it seems a writer’s job can be defined by the amount of waiting they seem to do. I’m not even sure it matters what kind of writing it is. A freelancer is always waiting for a response to their pitch, or to hear back from a source, or on the final edits. Fiction writers certainly endure this, too. While the story comes from the writer, the process following putting pen to paper is all about the waiting. Edits? If you’ve hired a professional, you wait. Queries? Send them out and wait. Requests for partial or full manuscript? Ahhh, more waiting. Got the agent? Great. Now wait for a publisher. And it goes on and on. Self-publishing may eliminate some of that waiting but I imagine waiting for sales is equally excruciating. (This may be another reason so many great writers are turning to the self-publishing world).

I wonder, however, what is the acceptable amount of time to wait. Let’s say you’ve written a novel and sent ten queries. How long is normal until you receive a response? I know many agents state up front that if they don’t respond, assume they are not interested, but what about the others? Now you’ve sent your full manuscript and you’re waiting (again?). There is no question that this should take longer than a query letter. Still, how long? 2 months? 4 months? 6 months? When do you nudge? Unfortunately, there is no standard answer. While I wish I could report otherwise, every agency is different and their rules are different.

So, with that knowledge in mind, here is a website that may provide some insight on a particular agent or publisher. Typically, the forum will contain a series of posts by writers and their experiences with the agency/publisher. It can be informative.


For myself, I recently typed in the name of an agency that currently has my full manuscript. On the Absolute Write forum, I learned that this agency has held manuscripts for more than 6 months before responding. While this does seem like a long time, I attribute this to the small size of the agency and the many, many aspiring writers out there. Another agency also has my manuscript although for only half the time. So, what am I doing? Waiting, waiting, and still more waiting…

Patience may be a virtue but it is the bane of writers. So, what’s your experience?

Published by K.L. Murphy

Author of Her Sister's Death and The Detective Cancini Mysteries

2 thoughts on “Waiting, waiting, and…still waiting

  1. Waiting for other people drives me nuts. That’s why I decided to self-publish and do it all myself. At least I’m accomplishing something. From what I’ve read by authors sending out queries, unless you’re sure you’re sitting on a mainstream blockbuster, the hours you spend querying and waiting is just that much of your life wasted.

    1. You’re so right about the hours wasted. Plus the nature of the business today further reduces a debut novelist’s chances of landing an agent or contract. Congratulations on your self-publishing – I’ll check out your blog.

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