Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Long Wait: A Short, Annotated Submission Guide

Hello to all you lovely people out there. We've squarely hit September. Pumpkin spice may or may not be in your coffee cup at the moment. The supermarket is full of Halloween candy, but no Lysol wipes. And I'm mentally preparing a holiday list of stuff I will buy myself--dependent on the outcome of the presidential election. So, you know, autumnal things.


I decided to blog today about going on submission. It is a truth universally acknowledged that authors on submission do not talk about being on submission, not openly anyway. And why is that? 

To sum up, it's simply not a good look. 

Editors don't want to see potential writers moaning on Twitter about how long they've been on submission, how they've gotten another rejection, or that no one wants their book. It's like when a house sits too long on the market--you begin to wonder what is wrong with the house. Wet basement? Leaky roof? Was someone murdered there? That sorta thing. 

But then if we can't complain on Twitter to anyone who will listen, where do we go to get a semblance of the traditional submission process? I assume, of course, this is after you've asked your agent a bazillion questions already.

I imagine most submission processes look like this: you write a book. You get an agent. Your agent helps gussy the book up for submission and then comes up with a list of publishing houses that seem best suited for your work. The book is then pitched to those editors, and just like querying agents, the editors can respond that they'd like to read more or pass on the pitch alone. And this can happen in rounds. One author could sell a manuscript in a few weeks, another in a year. Yes, a year. Or longer. There could be an auction where houses bid for your book. Or an offer from simply one. Your book could be snatched up just as it is or after a revision. Some writers won't sell an agented book. Some go on to sell manuscripts they wrote while waiting for responses. It's a crapshoot, really. A good agent will guide you, but in the meantime, you can obsess about the process by clicking on these links.


In this Publishers Weekly article, agents discuss how the pandemic has affected submissions. Spoiler alert: it has, but editors are still buying.

This post by YA author Diana Urban is an honest, upfront look at the arduous submission process. She also provides a ton of additional resources including podcasts and a link to Absolute Write's Next Circle Of Hell thread where you can totally commiserate about the submission process with other writers. It's fair game over there. 

This is a fabulous Twitter thread from Claribel Ortega where various authors comment on how long it took to sell their books. It's always cool to do this after the manuscript has been bought.

In this 3-minute YouTube video, YA author Ava Jae gives a nice overview of the submission process. It's two years old, but not that much has changed. Here's her blog post covering the topic as well.

Lastly, this Reddit thread from three years ago which is still timely and relevant. I may get lost in it myself.

To all of you on submission or to those who dream of submission or to those who are simply curious, I salute you. It's not an easy process, and it doesn't get easier with experience. Or so I've read.

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