My fellow Debs have already provided all kinds of wonderful advice on the submissions process this week. (If you haven’t read their posts, go and do it now. They are full of good stuff! That’s okay. I’ll wait.)
See there? They’ve outlined the To-Dos and To-Don’ts so well I can’t think of a thing to add. (Not that I ever let that stop me.)
So, as you may have gathered, the whole submissions thing doesn’t end when you get an agent. (Sorry, it’s true.) BUT, at least after you have an agent you’re not in it alone. Fifteen percent of every rejection will officially belong to your representative in the literary world!
Once you and your agent agree that everything possible has been done to whip your manuscript into shape, your agent starts submitting it to publishing houses.
And then you wait. Again. (Cue the Jeopardy theme music.)
For most of us, there is an inordinate amount of waiting involved in publishing. (Yes, there are a few—a very few—for whom the journey from submission to bookstore shelf is remarkably fast. But the rest of us hate them, and pretend they don’t exist.*
During this agonizing process, depending on your agent, it’s possible you won’t even hear the details of the worst rejections. Your agent might just report the complimentary comments from the editors (believe it or not, the editors who pass on your book often have nice things to say about it), as well as any criticism that’s likely to prove beneficial in selling the book to some future editor. This is invaluable, and a smart writer will take helpful hints wherever she can get them.
Now, if you insist on hearing every-blessed-thing each editor has to say, a nice agent will follow any devastating revelations with “But what does s/he know? S/he’s obviously an idiot.”
Um…not that my agent ever called any editor an idiot. She would never (*cough* within earshot *cough*) do that.
And not to scare you even further, but even when an editor falls in love with your book it doesn’t mean the publisher will buy it. There are all sorts of hoops editors have to jump through before they get the okay to make an offer. Trust me, not much is more frustrating than knowing an editor wants your book but can’t convince the other editors, the sales staff, the marketing personnel, and the top honchos of the house to take a risk on it.
Frankly, it’s a daunting prospect for any writer-agent team to undertake. So, here’s a little quiz I devised for you to see if you’re ready for the submissions game. Don’t worry, it’s only one question, and it’s multiple choice!
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO OCCUPY YOURSELF WHILE WAITING TO HEAR FROM EDITORS?
A. Crochet a laptop cozy.
B. Take the labels off every can in your pantry. “Surprise” meals can be quite a distraction!
C. Memorize the complete works of Shakespeare. Backwards. (If you’re a wuss, you can go with the abridged version.)
D. Become an expert thumb twiddler.
E. Work diligently on your next project.
[Clue: It's not a trick question.]
But, really, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, you want to get an agent! And to that end, we are here to help:
The Debs are giving away query critiques to 5 of our beloved readers! To be eligible, just leave a comment any day during this week (including Saturday, April 14th’s post—contributed by our FABULOUS guest agent Michelle Wolfson) and specify if you’d like to be entered in the contest and we will randomly select 5 winners. You’ll have up to two weeks to send us a digital copy of your query letter (for books in any genre) and we’ll give you feedback on the query. We’re so excited to see what everyone is working on!
*We don’t really hate them. Well, okay, maybe a little. And only until we get our own book contracts.
P.S. Oops. I almost forgot the obligatory end-of-post questions. Hmm … okay, it’s Friday the 13th, in case you hadn’t noticed. Are you superstitious?
You know what counters any bad luck brought on by the date? Commenting on Deb Ball posts.
Uh-huh. Really. Come on, would I lie to you? Besides, you know you totally want to enter the Query Critique Contest. And even if you don’t, why risk bad luck?
Oh, and another end-of-post question: Have you ever crocheted a laptop cozy?