Deb Rachel Has Been There and Back Again

2012 Debutante Rachel BertscheI’m coming to the ball from both sides this week.

Sure, I am a published author who can spew some learnings about being on submission. But I’m also an aspiring author, one who is prepping to submit a proposal to her agent and is thus steeling herself for the emotional roller coaster ahead.

Being on submission is a bit different the second time around. The burden to prove yourself might be slightly smaller. If I’m pitching an editor I’ve already worked with, for example, I don’t have to include an “about the author” section since we have an actual relationship.

But the big picture stuff is the same. I still have to sell agents and editors on my idea. I still need to show the powers that be that this book will fly off the shelves!

No publisher is about to throw a contract at me just for being me. I’m not J.K. people.

And so I’ve been revisiting my first time on submission, trying to decide what I want to do differently when the next time comes.

There’s one word, and one word only, that comes to mind: PATIENCE!

While trying to sell the proposal for MWF Seeking BFF, my nightly moods were dictated by the emails I’d received from my agent that day, or that week. Good news meant I danced around the house. Bad news meant I assumed the fetal position on the couch. My husband hated the swings, and I couldn’t explain (I still can’t, really) why I attributed so much of my self-worth to the opinions of people I’d never met. But I did.

Every day felt like a year, and I couldn’t comprehend what was taking these people so long.

In fact, MWF was on submission during the holidays, and I remember seeing some Facebook picture of the editors at some publishing house having their holiday party. My first thought was, no joke, ‘What are they doing just hanging out there as if it’s no big thing? Don’t they know my proposal in on their desks?!?’

When your mind is entirely consumed with a single thought, it’s hard to remember that other people aren’t quite as obsessed. That they, you know, live their lives like sane human beings.

My overall problem the first time around–other than being a generally impatient lunatic–was that I’d read too many stories of books that sold, went to auction even, in the span of 24 hours. I thought if a week passed without a sale then all hope was lost.

Now I know better. Does that mean I will do better? Who knows. But at least I know we’re all in this together.

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 14ths 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!

19 Replies to “Deb Rachel Has Been There and Back Again”

  1. Rachel, that comment about the holiday parties on FB was priceless! It’s so important to remind ourselves that while our proposal is the ONLY writing business in our worlds, editors and agents have dozens of writing projects in theirs–not hearing doesn’t always mean bad news and such a good reminder to be, yes, patient!

    (And yes, forget the book awards–where are the partner awards for our mates who put up with our insanity? THAT deserves the medal, people!)

    1. Erika it is so true — if anything were ever going to end it between my husband and me, it would be my tumultuous temper during the waiting game.

      And oh, I totally stalk, I mean check out, the editors on Facebook! Of course I do.

  2. *laughing* Yes, I snarfed at the facebook photo comment too. I have been known to (silently, very silently) look at agents on Twitter and think “How do you have time to live-tweet a Doctor Who episode (for example), but you don’t have time to read my query?”…and then I remember that I’M reading Twitter, when I should be, ya know, writing!

    Funny post!

    1. Suze — you are not alone!! I have totally done the same Twitter thing. Don’t you worry…And yes, when we are doing our own procrastinating it never seems as bad, does it?

  3. We ARE all in this together (and did I mention I’m still on submission, too?) and that’s one of the things that makes this place so awesome – you can always come here and know there’s someone who GETS IT. Wishing you luck with your submission, Rachel and there aren’t too many holidays coming up, so hopefully it goes a little quicker this time.

  4. It’s maddening being on submission no matter how many times you’ve done it, isn’t it? Not sure there’s anything that would make the process easier, except maybe talking it out with other writers in the same boat. Misery loves company. 😉

    1. Some things (sunburns, the 6-floor walk-up to my old apartment, being on submission) just never get easier! At least this time I have people to vent to…

  5. Deb Rachel, so glad that you are pitching again. I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t leave any hints about the WIP. Hmmmm? No deets?

    I’m totally LOVING BFF right now!

    I’m sure your patience will pay off!

  6. You hit the nail on the head about the patience. When I got started, I thought I already knew about everything that makes being a writer hard: the self-doubt, the keeping-at-it in the long, slow, slog through the middle of a 100k word novel, the working even when you’ve had a day and would rather do just about anything than force yourself to write.

    When I finished my novel, though, I found out that I’d just move on to an even harder part of the process. First, there’s editing, revising, lather, rinse, repeat, and then comes writing, re-writing, and revising a query. And then the waiting on the queries. And more waiting.

    I mentioned the waiting, right?

    Yes, the writing part is hard, certainly, but you control that. Once you’re ready to send it out into the world, though, into the hands of others, there’s little you can do but grin. And wait patiently.

    Luckily, all that waiting leaves you plenty of time to start writing the next thing. 😀

    1. Jason you are so right. It’s the lack of control that is so frustrating! If I’m the one holding things up, I at least know what is going on. But when other people have your work and you’re waiting on them its impossible to know — is it taking forever because they are busy? Or because they hate it? Are they in the office? Do they read quickly? etc…

      I’ve entered you into the contest. Good luck!

  7. Excellent post, though, as well all know, easier said than done. We’d all like to hope that we won’t be neurotic about our books and check email like a crazy person, but it’s much harder to actually not do it!


    1. The email refresh button and I have a love-hate relationship. What’s best to know is that I’m not the only one!

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