Can there be any doubt that the most difficult aspect of writing for publication is patience? Even in our virtual world where our thoughts, queries, and questions are whisked away to the desktop of the recipient in an instant, waiting is a large part of the process. Although I have had one agent response in an amazing two days requesting to read my manuscript (she was new and left the agency before reading my work!), it is most unusual. The response wait time is usually more like two months. And for a publishing house, it can be half a year.
Perhaps that is why self-publishing is so gratifying. Generally speaking, a writer can move forward as fast as she/he wishes, restricted only by the her/his own standard of excellence. Once you are satisfied with each step in the process, move forward. But should you?
One recommendation that appears consistent among almost every successful writer is to use the drawer method. That is, after completion of your manuscript and four or five edits, put it away in a drawer for a month and work on something else. Then take it out and read it. Is it still good? Or not so much? Your eye will see differently now when you do the final edits. But this method requires patience and the recognition that you are in it for the long haul.
The quantity of your patience depends upon the quality of your commitment. And the quality of your work will reflect the quantity of your commitment. Demanding perfection of yourself and moving forward only when you are truly satisfied is the only way to insure the quality of your work.
But it is easy to become discouraged. When the mailbox remains empty day after day, it can seem futile. And when you cast your eye over the number of people who submit manuscripts to agents, or to Amazon, or Smashword, it can feel overwhelming.
And so your patience must be born of positive thinking, from the belief that all that waiting will culminate in success, and that your work will eventually be recognized for its true worth. That belief must underline every line you write. So hang in there. Be patient. You won’t regret it.