Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Don't panic! What to do if you are addicted to hearing from publishers and agents ....

Some thoughts on being addicted to the publisher's/agent's response to your submissions:

1) Remember you cannot jinx a submission, unless of course you stalk, harass or insult a publisher or agent. So just NO stalking, harassing and insulting and you should be okay. And no superstitious worrying that you have somehow affected the result. If, after a reasonable time, you inquire after your submission, THIS WILL NOT JINX THE RESULT (unless you stalk, harass or insult). If it's a rejection, YOU DID NOT MAKE THAT HAPPEN with your behaviour. It is the story that has been rejected and there are many reasons why that might have happened, none of them related to anything you said or did while waiting for the response. However, if you inquire every five minutes (are we there yet? are we there yet? are we there yet? are we there yet?) then this may encourage a publisher to reject your work. Don't be THAT person.

2) Your obsession is a measure of how important being published is to you. Do you want it to be less important? No? Then don't worry - everyone is a little obsessed about something. Especially when it matters this much. Try use at least some of that energy for something productive. And remember to get some work/life balance.

3) This industry is, on the whole, excessively slow with its answers. Much, much slower than many many other industries. We cannot be surprised that we get hung up on refreshing our emails - few have to wait like we do. Cut yourself some slack. You are not required to agree with or enjoy the waiting. In fact, I would be more worried if it did not bother you. It is good to accept that this is normal though (as frustrating as it is). You are not being singled out for this torture - we all get to experience it.

4) The stakes are high - there is no shame in having a significant emotional investment.

What to do if you are addicted to the response.

1) Do nothing. Your addiction is a justifiable response to a unique set of circumstances - high stakes, slow turn around times, and long term emotional investment. Just remember this addiction only belongs to your writing life and should remain there.

2) Accept that the circumstances are normal and shared by many others. You are part of a tribe that regularly deals with this and I find that comforting. We can all be a bunch of weirdos hitting refresh together.

3) Don't fight it. Only treat the addiction if it is preventing you from engaging in everyday life. If you are still exercising, eating, sleeping and hanging out with those you love you will manage the addiction. If you are not engaging with everyday life turn off the computer and go and hug one of your favourite people, take a long walk, eat something good, and go to bed.

4) Just like being told to eat your veggies because people are starving is the most rubbish piece of advice that does not make your veggies more appealing, people telling you to get to work on the next project to distract you from the frequent email refreshing feels unhelpful. However, just as veggies still actually do have health benefits, working on the next project is a smart move with career benefits. Try to do this whenever you can manage it. If you can't manage it, its occasionally okay to do nothing. You'll get sick of it eventually, and sometimes doing nothing is exactly what the doctor ordered. And boredom can be a great motivator. Just don't get stuck in the nothing zone. Set a time limit on your 'do nothing' time and stick to it.

5) Smell the roses. Treat yourself. Organise some fun.

So in summary: don't panic. This is a survivable, liveable addiction. And if you think things are getting out of hand, chatting with someone who understands this world is a good place to start. If you do not already belong to one of the many cool writers' groups who hang out online and in real life, now is a good time to go join one. They are a bunch of lifesavers, and smarties and will help you get through :)