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Guest Post: Embracing the Boredom with Sprinkled Donuts! by Stephanie Elliot

doughnut with chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles beside a laptop
Authors are a busy bunch, and the process of getting published is a long and arduous one. If you’re in the midst of getting a book published, congratulations! If you’re a reader and don’t know what’s involved in the publication of a novel, there is so much for a new author to discover – like learning about doing book edits, thinking about book cover copy, figuring out how to get complimentary blurbs from authors they admire. And then authors have to work on more edits, and then do more edits, and still more edits, also while thinking of creative ways to market their book.

There’s also a whole new lingo to learn – authors need to learn the difference between developmental edits and copy edits, and why some editors call it a galley and others call it an ARC (Advance Reader Copy). Some authors may receive their edits via hard copy with handwritten changes on hundreds of pages, while others get a nice, neat attached document with Track Changes. Authors will hear new phrases like “optioning” their next book or they might even get a movie option for their book! There may be additional people who will need to handle “foreign rights” and someone will wonder, “What ARE foreign rights!?” Becoming a debut author IS FOREIGN in its own RIGHT.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!

When things start out, there is so much for a new author to figure out.

There is so much to do.

And then, suddenly, there’s not.

There will be radio silence. And months where nothing will happen. Literally months where an author might not hear from her editor. Because that’s the way publishing works.

And the boredom will probably set in.

And the doubts and the worry.

And the boredom.

So. Much. Boredom.

And so much waiting.

The author will sign her contract. And then she will wait.

She will get her edits. And she will do them, and then she will wait.

Her edits will come back and she’ll do that round of edits, and then she will wait.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Yes, of course, she could write another book, and maybe she will, and that would be great! But maybe the author doesn’t feel like she can get the book that’s being published and its characters out of her head. Or maybe she’s already written THREE other books and she’s burnt out and she needs a break.

It’s okay to take a break!

Embrace the boredom that’s setting in.

If you’re THAT author, here are some suggestions on what not to do during those long stretches of lag time when your book is out of your hands and in the publishing process:

  • DON’T check your email every two seconds to see if your agent has written to update you on your next book proposal that’s out.
  • DON’T check to see if your editor has sent you the mock-up for your book cover.
  • DON’T email your editor to ask when your copy edits are coming.
  • DON’T check to see if your editor has sent you the revision of the jacket copy you sent her.
  • DON’T check to see if your most favorite author in the entire world has gotten back to you about the blurb you asked her to write for you.
  • DON’T check to see if your book is on amazon for pre-order yet.
  • DON’T check to see if your publisher has listed your book on their website yet.
  • DON’T do everything that I do sixteen-million times every single day because I’m bored out of my mind and I want things to start happening.

Because as we all know already – publishing is slow. It’s dreadfully slow. And for a debut author, it’s double the amount of slow.

Instead, consider doing some of these things to keep that depressing boredom from settling in while you wait for the next phase in your publishing journey:

  • Focus on something ELSE! Yes, we know it’s easier said than done. Having your book published is a dream come true and all you’ve been thinking about for practically your whole entire life. But, stop thinking about it. Soon enough, there will be plenty of work to do for your book and you’ll wish you had time to be bored again.
  • Do something else you enjoy whether it’s painting, cooking, playing an instrument, exercising, or doing yoga – nurture your other talents. Usually, when you focus on other things you love to do, your mind refuels and this might spark ideas for your next novel.
  • Declutter the areas in your living and working space! For me, when this intense boredom sets in, I feel a great sense of unease in my life. By simplifying my surroundings, it calms my spirit and not only cleans my visual spaces, but my spiritual spaces too. And more than likely, just about the time I’m finished cleaning out the worst closet, those emails I’ve been desperate to receive from my agent and editor will be rolling in and I’ll be back to concentrating on my novel!
  • Get back to reality with family and friends! We all know that these are the people who are first to get ignored when the hard work begins.“I can’t spend time with you this weekend, I’ll be working on my edits!” Or, “We’ll have to order takeout tonight – my edits are due in a few days!” These are phrases all new authors have said to family and friends. When we are experiencing these bouts of boredom, let this be a reminder to reconnect with our family and friends while there is time to do so!
  • And if nothing else works to stave off the extreme boredom when it hits, you can always do what the wise Joanne O’Sullivan, author of Between Two Skies suggested to me when I was complaining of this intense stretch of boredom: “What you need is a donut with sprinkles!” I told her I needed two!

For authors who are publishing their debut novel this is what it is: A delicate balance between needing sprinkled donuts and someone to monitor us so that we don’t go crazy from boredom waiting for the next phase to begin!


Stephanie Elliot headshot
Stephanie Elliot is an author, editor, wife and mother to three children. Her young adult novel, Sad Perfect (FSG, February 2017) was inspired by her daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She is a Swanky Seventeen administrator/member.

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The opinions expressed in guest posts are the views of the designated authors and do not necessarily reflect those of YA Highway members.

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Kate Hart

Kate is the author of After the Fall, coming January 24, 2017 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. A former teacher and grant writer, she now owns a treehouse-building business in the Ozarks and hosts the Badass Ladies You Should Know interview series.

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Item Reviewed: Guest Post: Embracing the Boredom with Sprinkled Donuts! by Stephanie Elliot Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kate Hart