The Waiting Game: From Writing to Reward-How Long Does It Take?

I'm enjoying a brief vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado. While I'm gone, here's a "post from the past" about the waiting game we all experience in some way. Have a wonderful week!

How long does it really take to get published? Once a book is finished, an agent is found, and that elusive publishing contract is secured, what kind of time-frame can you expect? And how is the wait different for a self-published author?

In the current economy, it's tempting to look at big-name authors and think, "I could do that." If money is getting tight for the mortgage, or a lay-off is looming, it may seem like a quick way to make some cash.

For money emergencies, freelance writing may be the best bet. See Making Money from Your Writing, and 9 Ways to Make More From Your Writing. Novel and non-fiction writing is for those who have the patience to wait for years.

I didn't know the answers to the time-frame questions, so I checked them out. Here are some links to help give writers a realistic picture of the process.

For writers aiming for traditional publication:

Agent Steve Laube shared very specific answers--including when to expect those longed-for paychecks.

Agent Rachelle Gardner has not one, but two posts on the topic. How Long? and How Long Will It Take? are her most frequent questions.

For writers planning on self-publishing:

The Small Publishers Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN) lists a very detailed timeline. There are lists to complete while writing the book, when almost finished, when editing, all the way to after publication.

Self-publishing guru J. A. Konrath compares the timelines of traditional and self-publishing. And this recent post is quite interesting: the story of a writer in despair who took Konrath's advice. In a few days (with Konrath's endorsement), Kiana Davenport's ebook, House of Skin, went from #134,555 to #10. Wow.

How about you? Are you ready for the length of time publishing can take?


  1. I want to have my novels traditionally published, so I don't really have a choice but to wait. It's taxing, actually, all the waiting and the hoping and the rejections... All part of the game, however!

  2. I am definitely ready for the amount of time it will take to become a published writer. I think that every writer has to decide, at one point or another, the avenue they want to take, and go for it. No matter the avenue, it cannot be rushed or based on grand assumptions; either direction will take a LOT of hard work and dedication. I find that if you go in with no expections, since it is such an unpreditable business, it takes the pressure off so that you can actually enjoy the entire process, and like JA Konrath, it would give you the opportunity to take what you learn and help to inspire others.

  3. *expectations, *unpredictable, I REALLY need a new keyboard, LOL. :)

  4. I think there is a maturing process in the waiting that, when skipped by writers who enjoy instant success, regret later on. I'm definitely willing to wait, though I wonder if someone had told me at the start how long it might take, I might have given up too soon.

    Sometimes a little ignorance at the beginning can be a good thing (and I was clueless!). But now, I'm too hooked to give up. Like both of you, I'm aiming for traditional publishing as well. It's nice to have folks to wait with!


  5. I've forgotten what year it was exactly that I started my novel, but I'm pretty sure it was 4 or 5 years to acceptance. Not a game for the impatient among us!

  6. True what Charlotte said: "Not a game for the impatient among us!" :)

  7. Thanks for the links, Debbie. You mention Rachelle Gardner and I thought I'd tell you that I first found her blog some time ago through yours. Her blog is invaluable to me, so thanks for that, too!

    Checking out your freelancing links now...

    Enjoy vacation!

  8. Good stuff here Debbie. Thanks for posting and doing all that research!!

  9. Thanks for all the great information!!!

  10. The waiting game is something we all have in common! Wouldn't it be nice if we had some idea of how long our own journey would take?




Related Posts with Thumbnails