Monday, February 8, 2016

Behind the Veil: A Peek Into Submission, Part 2

Last week, I posted the results of a survey I did, asking agented and formerly agented writers to anonymously share their submission experiences.  This week, I'm going to share some of the advice respondents gave for people going on submission for the first time. 

Overall, the advice tended to follow a few major themes: Write something new, drink a lot, try not to think about it. Several authors also noted the importance of communicating with your agent about your expectations. But here it is, in our own words:


Write something new and try not to think about it. Submission is completely out of your control, and had I not distracted myself by writing another MS and putting it on sub, I might not have gotten published. Patience, work, and wine. ;)

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1) Get excited about a new project. Hands down most important thing. 2) Try to find support from others who've been there.

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Write something else. It's the only way to properly distract yourself.

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Keep yourself busy and get to writing your next book. Forget about the submission process.

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Write another book!

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Take up drinking. :-)

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Patience, chocolate, and wine.

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I'm far more Zen when I ask for as little info as possible. I don't want to know who has it. I don't want to know why they rejected. I don't want to know if it's going to acquisitions. I only want to know about an offer. Keeping it off my mind lets me focus on my next project and not be a slave to my email.

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Stay busy.

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Make sure you're with an agent that has connections and a strong history of sales. If an editor has no urgency to read your MS, it won't get read. Without being read, there's no possibility for a book deal.

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Don't read rejection letters! My agent didn't share mine with me and it preserved my sanity. It allowed me to continue writing without letting editors' words plague my thoughts.

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Work on your next book. Period. Never, ever wait on publishing. Always have your next step in mind.

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Find something to occupy your brain. You will need to distract yourself.

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Assume it won't sell and focus on your next book.

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Get invested in writing another book! Once I started a new WIP, I was much less focused on whether the first one sold because I knew I'd have something else to sub soon.

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Communicate with your agent and don't feel like you're a nag if you want to check in after not hearing anything for a few weeks, but also, trust them to do their job. Do your very best to distract yourself and keep your obsessing to a minimum. Don't Twitter-stalk editors you're on sub to; it's not productive and is likely to just make you feel worse. And find a few friends who have been on sub! Their support and knowledge will help immensely.

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Focus on something else, whether it's writing something new, reading, or other interests. Obsessing won't help the process move any faster.

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Do something else.

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Try everything you can to forget about it. Make sure your agent has connections that don't get them automatically ignored.

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Decide what sort of communication you'd like from your agent when you're on sub--how much information you'd like and when you'd like to receive it (as in getting a summary on Fridays or radio silence if that'll help you stay sane).

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Find out what your agent will tell you about it and what you want to know.

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Work on something else & try your best to forget you're on sub!

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Start on your next project immediately. Otherwise the email notification dings will drive you to drink (more).

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Finish your next project so that if your current ms doesn't sell, you have something else to focus on. It really does help.

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Do your own research on editors and imprints. Don't be afraid to offer suggestions on the pitch letter or speak up re: following up with editors who have the ms or sending it out to more houses. Be aware this is one of the toughest fiction markets ever, so let go of any expectations or entitlements and keep working on new books.

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Do NOT wait for the first book to sell to write the next one. I'm in acquisitions on my second book because I didn't stop writing while waiting on the sell of my first.

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Ask your agent to provide submission list after you hear back from editors so you don't burn time obsessing over them. Stay focused on your next project.

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Get a good support system. Don't have unrealistic expectations. Learn how to distract yourself and have a healthy attitude. The whole process can make you ill if you let it. It's not for the faint of heart. But be determined. Be resilient. And you'll be all right.

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Drink wine. Write something else right away because it's going to be harder to do so the longer you're on submission.

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Be patient and don't compare your journey to anyone else. Also, stay off Facebook and Twitter. :-)

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Lower your expectations, because your book might not sell. If it doesn't, be prepared to grieve and feel down. This is normal. Then, pick yourself up and get back to why you got into this in the first place; writing awesome stories!!

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Find something else to do and do it. Devote your thoughts to a new project whether it's writing or not, and fully commit yourself to it so that the waiting doesn't get to you. Find some friends who have gone through it or are currently on sub to commiserate with. Whatever happens whenever it happens will probably be ok.

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Try not to get too excited when an editor requests to see the MS. It doesn't mean much (yet).

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Write the next book. This is the only thing that kept me sane/distracted.

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Good luck and be patient :)

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As hard as it is, try to put it out of your head and stop checking your phone or email. My offer literally came in the five minutes I stepped away from my phone. Put your head down and keep writing.

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I managed to have a quick turnaround, but there's a wide range of experiences. Always be working on your next project!

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Submission experiences vary so widely; try your best not to compare yourself to someone else. You're going to stress and worry about the process and that's okay. That's normal. But put a cap on it--one day, one week, two--and then put those worries in a box and try to ignore it. For me, the only way to keep my mind preoccupied was to write more.

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Work on something else! distractions help. Also, don't get too fixated on imprints or editors. the right fit might surprise you.

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It can be really stressful so make sure you look after yourself while you wait. Also this is cheesy but trust your instincts as much as possible: if you feel like writing another book, do it! If you think revising is your best shot, do that!

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Make the silence and waiting your friend, not your enemy. As an enemy, it will destroy and devastate you. As a friend, it offers a nice quiet space to work on your next novel. Which leads me to my last point: work on something else. It's common advice, but absolutely true. Stay busy and distracted.

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Try not to think about it and keep working on something new.

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It's a cliche, but write something new.

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Don't be afraid to turn down the wrong deal, and know what you want before a book deal comes in. That way, you don't get blindsided by an offer that isn't the right fit for you and your career.

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Do anything you can to forget you're on sub. Work on something new. Find a hobby. Remember that there are many routes to readers these days.

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Keeping everything a secret will drive you crazy. Talk to your trusted writer friends about your experiences. A little transparency can help make you feel less alone.

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Sauvignon blanc.

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Find some friends who are on sub at the same time, and commiserate with them.

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Things can happen quickly, and it's exciting if/when they do, but realistically it's best to be prepared for the long(er) haul. No matter the book, serendipity always plays a role, and there's truth in the adage: right book, right editor, right time.

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Drink heavily.

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Find something that will occupy your time so you're not constantly refreshing your email.

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Writer, know thyself. Protect your sanity however you know is best for you, whether it's knowing nothing or trying to know EVERYTHING. Find a community. Don't apologize for or try to minimize your own struggle. Even if it's good, it's hard. You'll get through it.

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The industry is awful and nothing is guaranteed. I got rejections for the weirdest/most fickle reasons. Have faith in yourself--you're on sub because you wrote something good.

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Start a new project!

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Visit a country with no internet for six months.

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Be kind to yourself! Being on sub is hard!


Do you have any advice for authors on submission? If so, share it in the comments!

3 comments:

  1. Sorry I missed your Blitz Day. Hope you had fun!

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  2. Wine, you say? Beats whine, so I shall consider it a prescription.

    Happy belated Blitz Day. I am horrible at email when the kids are home.

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  3. Another great post! One thing I learned from being on sub (unsuccessfully) is that I should have asked my agent more questions about when I would hear from them, and had a rough schedule for updates. It wouldn't have been painless, but would have helped a lot. My agent assumed I wouldn't want any information at all and I went along with this because it was my first time, but in hindsight that was a mistake. I drove myself and everyone close to me crazy trying to figure out what was going on.
    And it's awful if you have no clue what's going on, so you think there's still hope, and then the bad news comes all in one day. Not fun.
    So - don't be afraid to stand up for what YOU want in terms of communication.

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