Monday, July 19, 2010

What writers can do while waiting for acceptances, offers, and you know, the other thing.

You've sent off your article query, or your submission, or your agent representation query, or that requested manuscript or partial. And now you wait. Well of course you are also busy writing something else – many something elses – but in the back of your mind, you are waiting, waiting, for a reaction, an assignment, an acceptance, a sale, a contract, an offer.

While you are waiting, get ready.

• Resolve that you will be open to an editor, publisher or agent's suggested edits, title changes, and other ideas. Develop the mindset that you will listen and seriously consider what may be suggested. You know, they are editors, agents and publishers for a reason. They know stuff.

• Keep working on that personal website and/or blog, and keep building that online presence and network of literary friends, readers, writing colleagues. No matter what any particular response holds, you are going to need those folks for marketing purposes, support, sanity, or all three.

• Have a long and a short bio ready to go, w/hyperlinks in place.

• Know what you will do if a contract arrives: Sign right away or have an attorney look it over? Ask a professional organization's legal services office to do so (the Author's Guild, for example)? Have a more experienced writer friend weigh in? Compare it to those you've signed in the past and decide yourself?

• Make sure you know the rights you will want to keep, those that matter to you. Contracts can be altered. Learn how.

• If you're waiting on an acceptance for a piece that will get published relatively quickly afterward, now is the time to do the final fact checking you may have (oops) neglected to complete before submitting.

• Be ready to respond in a timely manner, even if you need to ask for more time to respond fully. Fire back with, "Thanks, I'm very excited! I am in the middle of an urgent project today (or this week), but will respond fully on ____ ( name the day). Is that okay?"

• Have a digital author photo ready to send.

• Don't research the media venue / agent / publisher AFTER getting an acceptance / assignment / offer, and then decide you'd rather not. But if that's the case, know what you will say to graciously back away.

• Resist the urge to follow up too soon, too often, or rudely. Everyone is busy, everyone has an overflowing email inbox, and most of the time, most people actually are trying their best.

• Think of what you will do next, if the response is negative. Have a tiered list of "next to try" at your fingertips. Each time a "no thanks" arrives, you'll already have the next destination in mind. This is especially effective if you harbor doubts that you sent it to the wrong places the first time around.

• If you sent out simultaneous subs, know how you will handle withdrawals so you won't waste others' time now that the work is taken.

• Have a simple invoice template ready to go.

• Decide that you will be professional and humble whatever the response. Practice saying YES with gusto, saying "sorry, this won't work out after all," with grace, and saying "thanks for considering it anyway," with appreciation. Mean it.

• Remember that you are not going to exhibit any prima donna tendencies, making those who actually are interested in your work crazy with ridiculous demands. Or way too many reasonable demands. In other words, be a writer about whom editors, agents and publishers say, "She/He was great to work with." Because you know what, most of them know one another!

What did I forget?

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