Deb Dana Hates the “Hurry Up and Wait”

I wouldn’t say I’m an impatient person.

I also wouldn’t say I’m a patient person.

I’m the kind of person who can be patient when the circumstances demand it, especially when I know waiting will make the outcome better.

Example: By the time you read this, my little family will likely have grown from two people to three. Nine months was a perfectly appropriate amount of time for me to prepare and wrap my brain around all of the changes about to come our way (okay, so I still haven’t fully wrapped my brain around all of that and probably won’t until there is a living person in my arms). I also knew that amount of time was necessary for the baby to be healthy, so I didn’t mind waiting. In fact, I was happy to have that time.

But when it came to birthing my other baby — my debut novel — I wasn’t quite so patient and understanding. The entire process felt like a drawn-out exercise of “hurry up and wait” — something I hate. I’m not even talking about waiting to hear from an agent. That process takes a while, but even once you’ve scored an agent and landed a publishing deal — both processes that involve a lot of waiting — the waiting continues. In fact, it gets worse. Here’s a rundown of how the process might go:

Your new editor has revisions in mind. She will send you an editor’s note. Soon. In a few weeks. Or a month. In the meantime, guess what you do? That’s right. You wait.

You receive editor’s note and plunge head-first into revisions, trying to devote enough time to the manuscript to make it as good as possible, but at the same time trying to get the revisions back to editor ASAP so that your book can come out when you want it to. You manage to do both and send the revised manuscript back to your editor, feeling triumphant. And then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Months later, you receive copy edited manuscript with a tight deadline to return with any changes within a week or two. You race through the manuscript once, twice, three times, then send back to your editor. After which…you wait. Months pass.

You receive copy edited page proofs for examination, which you must return to editors within a week or two. You examine with a fine-tooth comb and get the proofs back ahead of time. And then you wait. Again, months pass.

The waiting game continues through galleys and reviews, all the way up to release date. And it doesn’t stop there. Once the book is out in the world, you wait for numbers, feedback — anything to gauge how your book is doing in the market.

Some books take off right away. Others need to build their popularity through word-of-mouth. And if your in the latter camp, guess what that means? More waiting.

I don’t mind waiting when I feel it has a purpose. And I know much of the waiting in publishing does have a purpose and is necessary. But as an author, it can sometimes feel as if you’re working on a series of tight deadlines, interspersed with interminable periods of…nothing. And that, to me, can be very frustrating.

How do you feel about processes that involve a lot of “hurry up and wait”? Any advice on how I can become more patient in those situations?


3 Replies to “Deb Dana Hates the “Hurry Up and Wait””

  1. Oh, me too!!! I don’t mind the parts with the copy edits so much – it’s the big revision that slays me. Busted my butt to get my ms in on time, and waited three months to get the edit letter. Now I’m working through extensive revisions, some of which I might have figured out myself and already had done if I hadn’t been rushing to meet my deadline. Yeah. On the other hand? I love having an editor and getting that sort of feedback. So it’s worth it, for me.

  2. I’m TERRIBLE at hurry up and wait! Sometimes I think publishing was invented in part to help me lean patience – but it’s so not working.

    I’m actually better at the places where I can do something, like working on the novels and revision. It’s one reason I’m glad I’m writing a series – it gives me something to do between times.

  3. This oscillation between frenzied work and dead quiet is rough! From the other side of things I had some idea of how much waiting there would be, but I didn’t quite understand how busy you can get when the waiting stops! Your post is exactly what newly signed authors should read to get an idea of what is coming up for them!

Comments are closed.