While I'm waiting for a certain publisher to send a contract, I'm in a pins and needles wait state. Will the publisher change her mind? Decide my space opera romantic action adventure is not right after all?
Writers spend a huge amount of time waiting. Yeah, we're doing other things to fill that space between query, request for ms, rejection or acceptance. However, we're still churning our CPUs in that idle state. A virtual head popping up on occasion to see if the various zines, publishers, and agents have not passed on to the great publishing heaven in the sky or tend to ignore anything in which they have no interest.
Despite the "6-12 (or more) weeks to reply" often stated in guidelines, I'm an impatient sort. I'll give them their stated minimum plus one week, then they're marked as non-responsive. After that length, I've learned that if they answer at all, it will be a rejection. Positive answers always come more quickly, except when they don't.
Writers develop their own version of casting chicken bones or crystal gazing to determine the future of a particular query or submission. Those writers who wait and wait and wait . . . well, they're more patient than me. I have my own formula for wait time, and it is based on past performance.
Bless Query Tracker and Duotrope. We've got STATS! So, publishers and agents: know that we know. You can play hard to get, but writers are learning and have may have already gone courting a new beau for their work. 99% of the time it's no big deal. But that 1% you've ignored or put off might mean a big payday missed.