If there’s one thing that many aspiring writers have few clues about, it’s the submission process. There are good reasons for that; authors aren’t exactly encouraged to talk in detail about our own submission experiences, and – just like agent hunting – everyone’s story is different.
I managed to cobble together a few non-specific questions that some debut authors have agreed to answer (bless them). And so I bring you the submission interview series – Submission Hell – It’s True. Yes, it’s the SHIT.
BBC: How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?
AH: I’d already been through the sub process before with a prior book and a prior agent, so I had a good idea how it worked. The big difference was the way my new agent (aka Agent Goddess Jenny Bent) handled the passes / news. She got back to me immediately upon hearing something w/out me having to nudge her. My first agent would let the passes build up then when I nudged, she’d send my way. I definitely prefer Jenny’s way of doing things. I never felt in the dark.
BBC: Did anything about the process surprise you?
AH: I think what surprised me most this time around was how fast we were hearing back on the fulls. My book is a twisted version of a classic which gives it a large demographic, and that had them reading it very quickly. With my first book, it took a LONG time to hear back from editors. In fact, when I left Agent One, we still had the MS out with an editor who had been holding onto it almost a year and a half after we sent it. Agent One gracefully withdrew the MS from them and handed the rights back to me. Now I can try to sell it again w/Jenny and a whole different set of publishers.
BBC: Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?
AH: Heck yeah, I researched them. I looked for online interviews so I’d know what their likes/dislikes were. Do I recommend it? Not exactly. You can drive yourself crazy trying to surmise if the book they’re describing in their interview, the one they’re dying to find, is yours or not. In the end, knowing a lot about them isn’t going to change how they feel about your MS. I suggest waiting until you get real interest from a publisher, then research that one (or if you go into auction, research each publisher involved). Because you’ll be ending up with one of them, and that way, when the intro phone call comes, you’ll already feel like you “know” things about them, and it makes the conversation flow easier.
BBC: What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?
AH: The longest we had to wait was eight weeks. If I had to average it out, I would say probably three-four weeks.
BBC: What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?
AH: Stay busy. Write up a few short blurbs for upcoming book ideas. When considering taking on a new author, one of the things an editor looks for is the broad scope. They’d like to know (especially if it’s a standalone novel) what else that author might be working on, in case they’re considering offering a two book deal. The first editor who offered actually asked what else I had in mind for future books before she made her offer. So it sure paid off having those worked up and on hand. Also, work on your next book, if you can. That’s what I did my first time on submission. I wrote two more books during that year. But this time around, I was too nervous and couldn’t make myself write. So instead, I concentrated on my platform. I started blogging and tweeting regularly, made a book trailer, created a website (still under construction but looking better by the minute thanks to my webmaster hubbie). Just keep yourself busy with something productive that ties into your writing career and will reap instant gratification, because you have enough waiting going on w/the subs. 😉