Deb Linda Doesn’t Want to Scare You, But …

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!




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?

45 Replies to “Deb Linda Doesn’t Want to Scare You, But …”

  1. Ack! It IS Friday the 13th! I believe that is a VERY good day to enter a query contest–after all, I am oppositional, remember? 😉

    I loved this wrap-up, Linda–and you are so right about the “prepare thyself” clause…I worked with another agent on my first submission years ago and the book didn’t sell and I genuinely had never thought that would happen (gulp) but guess what, it does–and guess what else? It isn’t the end of the line at all! KEEP WRITING, KEEP SUBMITTING. And you will move forward, always. I firmly believe that!

    1. You know, I kind of like Friday the 13ths. They’ve always been pretty calm for me. (Um… *knocks wood*)

      And, yeah, if I had to name THE most important quality in a writer to guarantee eventual publication, it would be persistence. You just have to be stubborn enough to keep on keeping on. 🙂

  2. Now I kind of want to crochet that laptop cozy. I mean, I know the answer is Keep Writing, but still…laptop cozy. Oh! Or I could quilt one! Or both. Hmm. Anyway, I’m not particularly superstitious except when it comes to jinxing. For instance, if you had shown up at my last job and said, “Wow. It’s slow in here,” I might have been a wee bit tempted to stab you. Of course, now I’m a writer, so I’m always roughly three inches from stabbing someone. Hahaha! Kidding! (Mostly.) I’ll stop typing now.

    1. LOL! At least when writers have an overwhelming urge to stab somebody, we can easily get it out of our systems on the page.

  3. the whole “cue jeopardy music” thing — if the submission process really only took as long as the jeopardy music (i.e. one minute), we’d all be happy campers!

  4. I love the cans! I don’t want to actually do that…I want to sneak into my mom’s and do it to her. Damn–where were you on April Fools Day? Probably good I didn’t know that trick–I’d be dead.

    1. LOL! I have a friend whose toddler actually got into the pantry and did that. She said their meals were very interesting for a while.

  5. I married my current husband on a Friday the 13th. It was the only day we could get the hall – for some reason nobody else wanted that date.

    Fourteen years later, I’d have to say Friday the 13th is good luck for me. 🙂 So, me, superstitious? Nah. *Knocks on wood*

  6. HA! My husband was desperate to marry on April 1st, but I guess that’s another thing altogether! I’ve never been superstitious, about much at all. I was surprised, however, to find that my mother-in-law always insists on going out of the same door she entered a building through. That sounded weird to me, so I asked her what she did at airports…something she’d never thought of before…and now she won’t get on a plane. Me and my big mouth.

    1. LOL! At both the April 1st thing AND the airport thing. Though I suspect travel is now more complicated for your poor MIL. *grin*

      1. Oh, oh, and I’ve noticed that some people are, like SHOUTING, “Please enter me into the contest,” and I wasn’t sure if my comment from a few days ago, claiming that my query was weeping with ineptness (it really is) was explicit enough, so pulease enter me in the contest!

        Thanks 🙂

  7. Ha! I’m not much of a crocheter, but I am an expert at thumb twiddling-forwards AND backwards. Thanks for ending the Deb portion of Sub week with some frights, but an inevitable smile, Linda. And I can’t wait to see what Michelle talks about tomorrow.

    p.s. Fun fact – my mom was born on a Friday the 13th. Hmmm.

  8. Oh, Lordy…I have crocheted quite a few other useless things…like a pencil warmer…but not a laptop cozy yet. My laptop is going through menopause, so it’s pretty warm most of the time on it’s own.

    Just sayin’.

  9. Could be the best argument yet for an old broad like me to play the I-wanta-be-published game. Ya see, time goes much much faster for me. A year only lasts for a heartbeat, and the grandkids start school just a couple weeks after they’re born. It’s true. Kinda like that saying, “Age is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” So I have patience out the wazoo.

    As for Friday the 13th, I love ’em. In fact, I consider thirteen to be my lucky number. (Has absolutely nothing to do with the fact I was born on the 13th…)

  10. I’m definitely NOT superstitious! I laugh at the thought of a random number influencing anything.

    However, I do have to say that I’m horribly disappointed in your post! I was certain that at least one choice would include the consumption of alcohol. You have let me down Deb Linda. 😉

    1. *hangs head in shame* I’m sorry. How about if we mentally add “and take a shot of whiskey” at the end of every option in the quiz? 😉

  11. No, I’m not superstitious *knock wood* 🙂 Great contest, but I have an agent so good luck to everyone else! Yes, submissions are loooong, drawn out months, but hope is ever alive!

    1. You’re at the part of the game where you realize it never really ends. Kind of like “Candy Land” or “Shoots and Ladders.” 😉

    1. Thanks. 🙂 Yeah, that’s about the age I started writing, too. Of course, my “novels” were only a page long then. 😉

  12. I’m not superstitious (wink, wink) but you might want to stand in front of me. People have been hit with flying salt when standing behind me. I really need to get a new salt shaker.
    I totally want to enter the Query Critique Contest!
    And, of course, I would work on my next project while waiting. There’s a very real possibility that my next project might involve demolition derbies and I might have to go on the demolition derby circuit for a while but I assure you, it’s strictly work related (wink, wink.)

  13. Ha ha! Great blog. Gotta love the laptop cozy! I have loved all of these blogs on submission. Good to know after the long waiting process we can wait for iiiiitttt…wait some more. 😀

    Am I superstitious? I’m a Red Sox fan so what does that tell you? 😉 I’m one of those crazy people who looks for *signs.* And I may or may not obsessively ask my Magic 8 Ball app if I should do this or that. You may be surprised at how often it’s accurate. So no not superstitious AT ALL. 🙂 Friday the 13th has historically been a great day for me so here’s hoping today doesn’t break that rule. *knocks on wood*

    Oh and yes, I’d like to be entered in the query contest. 🙂

  14. What kind of idiot agent would call an editor an idiot?? I’m sure that wasn’t me.

    On another note, after reading “the Fabulous Michelle Wolfson” so many times this week, I’ve decided to make it a permanent addition to my name. I’m having my business cards changed as I type.

    1. Maybe the kind of agent who’s trying to talk her client off the ledge? 😉

      And I think you should totally make “Fabulous” a permanent addition to your name. That’s how I refer to you when someone asks me who my agent is, anyway.

  15. First let me just say that I cannot crochet. I have tried and my fingers and mind just don’t work together to be able to make something. As for being superstitious? I may or may not be. I guess it totally depends on what we’re talking about. Friday the 13th typically is a normal day, except for the kids at school being CRAZY!

  16. Peel can labels. That could be hilarious. Definitely a good April Fool’s gag. 🙂

    And of course I’d love a query critique; who wouldn’t?


    P.S. I can’t wait to read your book. 🙂


    1. Oh, I’ll bet it would be hoot. Especially if you include the pet food cans. 😉

      I’ll add your name to the entries! 🙂

    1. Well, if you’re like me, you superstitiously picture the disaster to keep it from happening. I call this “proactive worrying.” 😉

      And you’re entered!

  17. Lol! Always enjoy your humor. I am a little superstitious! Yesterday was a good day although our baseball team lost. 🙂 Thank you for a great post and the truth about submissions.

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