You've hit the send button on that submission package, or dropped it into the mail. You can't take it back. It's gone and you just have to deal with the consequences.
Congratulations - you're a real author! Now comes the Dreaded Waiting.
Publishing is a slow business. I think that's partially due to the fact that it's one of the few remaining industries run completely by human beings. Sure, with the help of electronic submissions, they get there faster, but so do everyone else's. And people still have to read each one and make a decision. That takes time. (I've had a full manuscript out with an agent since late June, which is not even a long time. I'm totally unconcerned.)
So what do you do with all that nerve-wracking, nail chewing time between your submission and the rejection notice (or hopefully, better news)?
10. Learn a new skill. Crocheting, knitting, and underwater basket weaving are sure ways of sucking up all that extra time that you spent writing, polishing, and perfecting that manuscript.
9. Clean your refrigerator. After all, if you're thinking about identifying that mystery gunk on the bottom shelf or wondering how long it takes before Chinese take-out spoils, your not thinking about how the agent or editor could be reading your submission THIS VERY MINUTE.
8. Clean the house. Once the refrigerator is clean, you might as well move on to the rest of the house. I mean, the cats always need vacuuming, right? Imagine each dust bunny you suck up as getting yourself one step closer to that big publishing contract.
7. Play Farmville. Chasing down that last nail for your next barn is very productive.
6. Update your Facebook status every hour with the following : "Still no news..."
5. Rearrange your Netflix queue and catch up on all your DVR'd TV.
4. Stalk the editor or agent. Become their friend on Facebook and double-check their Twitter feeds and blog, hoping to see some inkling that they've read your manuscript and LOVED IT SO MUCH that they want it NOW. (I actually have editor and agent FB and Twitter friends. I am not stalking them, I promise.)
3.Impulsively and obsessively check your email. From the minute you send the submission. Every five minutes.
2.Impulsively and obsessively run to the mail box. From the day after you send the submission. Peer out of your curtains, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting mailman, then wail and ask him WHY he hasn't brought you a letter TODAY.
What you SHOULD do the minute that submission leaves your hands:
1. Write the next book. Seriously.
Well, I mean what happens if that agent or editor really DOES want your book RIGHT NOW?? You have to be ready to tell him or her what else you have? Even if it's just ideas, write them down, flesh them out. And if, as happens so often, that manuscript ends up on the Island of Forgotten Toys, you will have already moved on with an even better idea.