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My agent sent off one of my books on submission a fortnight ago. It’s exciting (albeit daunting) to know that it’s going to be read by some publishers. It’s also the moment when you psychologically prepare for a long wait.

Yes, another one. Allow me to explain…

A process that involves patience

I’m not the world’s most patient person. When I first started writing (many years ago, and yes, I am that old), I believed it was a case of getting the words on the page, winging them out to a publisher, then bob’s your uncle, your book appeared in print a few months later.

Ha!

It was a shock to realise that the process has as much to do with patience as actual writing. Here’s a brief outline of what the waiting periods look like in practice.

The long and winding wait…

Stage One – writing the first draft

This bit can actually be pretty fast. Be warned, it’s the only stage that ever is!

It’s important to note that at this point, you’ve got something rough, haphazard and unpublishable. I don’t believe there’s a writer on this planet who can knock out a perfect book first time. As such, resist the urge to send it out to any publishers / agents etc. It’s NOT READY.

Stage Two – edits

Okay, now it’s time for the first big wait.

Some people recommend waiting a few months before returning to your first draft to edit it. Based on my recent experiences, I’d recommend waiting even longer, if you can bear it. I recently pulled out two of my books that I hadn’t looked at for over a year. Both felt very ‘new to me’ – and I could thus read them appraisingly, as a reader, not the author.

This was massively helpful. I was able to overhaul both, and in fact, one is the book that’s on submission. Prior to that wait (and subsequent overhaul) it wasn’t ready to be read by anyone – simple as that.

Stage Three – second (and third, and fourth) edits

The editing doesn’t end after the first round. Authors vary when it comes to how many rounds of edits they’ll do. Some stick to three or four. Others go for twenty, thirty. With some of my books, I’ve done about five or six major edits. The other ones? Possibly close to forty in a couple of instances. Yes, really.

Again, try to wait in between each major edit – the more distance you can create between yourself and your book, the more effective the rewrite.

Stage Four – the submission

When you send your manuscript out for submission…guess what? You’ll have to wait a long time for a response!

Some agents will get back to you within a week or two. Others may take up to twelve weeks. Some may take a year, while a few won’t reply at all. Be prepared for this – it’s a time-consuming, occasionally frustrating process.

Stage Five – the next edits and next submission

If you get an agent – bravo! However, it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get that book published. Because you’ve now got another lot of edits to complete, plus another submissions process to go through. Which means yet more waiting.

Publishing deal… the wait continues…

Even after you get that hallowed publishing deal, you’ll still have to wait. In fact, this one’s the biggest wait of all – it usually takes between a year and two years for a book to be published. So it’s officially time to hunker down and sit it out until that lovely publication day comes around.

Don’t be deterred

Waiting is part of the process, but that shouldn’t put you off. Find other things to do in the meantime. Start another book. Do some research. Read other people’s books, or write a short story and enter it into a competition. It doesn’t matter what you do – it all counts as experience!

I make the most of the ‘waiting times’ by setting myself targets. Right now, I’ve set the goal of completing a book I’m working on – just another 40,000 words to go. Will I get there? Who knows! In a way, it doesn’t really matter; whether you write 500 or 10,000 words, you’re still writing. It all adds up, and as we’ve already proven beyond doubt- when you’re an author, you’re in it for the long-haul, not for the short-term gratification.

New book out!

I should probably mention that the fourth Dr Ribero book came out a couple of weeks ago. If you enjoyed the series so far and want to catch up on Kester and the (inept) crew, you can buy a copy here.

And many thanks to all the kind words from people who’ve got in touch about it so far. I’m a bashful writer and don’t tend to chat about my books too much online – but just to emphasise, it really does mean a lot when people tell me they’ve read the books, and even better, enjoyed them!

So thank you. And thank you again. As for the fifth Ribero book? Well, you might have to wait for that one… I’m getting onto the task, honestly!