The clock ticks. Tumbleweeds roll past your window. Your email and snail mail boxes remain empty.
So you sit. And wait.
Why are you sitting there, clicking the "send and receive" button? You have work to do!
Write your next novel. You can't pin all your hopes on one project. When your dream agent finally writes back, you want to wow them by having another book in your arsenal. Alternatively, if your current project doesn't get the response you wanted, you need to have a back up plan. Either way--keep writing!
Branch out. There are things other than novel you can be writing: poetry, short stories, articles. Anything. It will help you build a biography and it will keep your creative spark burning. You’ll also gain more practice sending out submissions (and more practice taking bad news—but don’t worry, it’ll only make you stronger.)
Work on a website. You want to have your web presence established so your future audience has a place to call home. Agents will often do a precursory search online if they are interested by your query. A website shows them you are serious about your writing and you are ready to take on a career.
Blog. Write blogs. Read blogs. Comment on blogs. You aren't just fooling around online when you do this "blog work"--you are interacting with other people and building a network. Follow some book review blogs in your genre and join the conversation. One day you'll want to do a virtual book tour...and you'll need friends to help you out. Find those friends now and help them out first by supporting their work--one day they will support yours.
Join a writers association. There is sure to be a group that fits your style. Local groups that meet at a library or a Starbucks in town once a month. State groups like Pennwriters. National groups like Romance Writers of America and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. All shapes, all sizes, all genres and focii. Join a weekend critique group. Go to a big conference and mingle with the writers and agents. Find the courage to pitch a project. It's all good exercise for any writer.
Improve your craft. Read a book on writing (I think Stephen King can help you with that). Put your manuscript through the rigors of a workbook like Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel. Just because you finished a book doesn't mean you've finished growing as a writer. Get cracking on your homework.
Writing and waiting seem to go hand in hand. The submission process is 2% communicating and 98% waiting for a response--but don't waste those precious minutes waiting for cobwebs to grow on your computer.
You wanted your hobby to become a job the moment you decided to seek agent representation...so get to work. One day you'll have scant precious time between projects to do all these important and wonderful things.
Waiting time doesn't need to be wasted time.
(Photo courtesy of gunner07)
Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who resides in the heart of the Pennsylvania coal region, where she keeps the book jacket for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in a frame over her desk. Visit Ash's blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com for news on her newly released urban fantasy "Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde" (Pink Narcissus Press 2012).