It’s time for another SHIT (Submission Hell – It’s True) Interview! Today’s guest is fellow Lucky 13‘er Melissa Landers, an unrepentant escapist who left teaching to write novels. No offense to her former students, but her new career is way more fun! Her YA debut, ALIENATED is set on Earth in the not-too-distant future, and follows the misadventures of valedictorian Cara Sweeny, who gets more than she bargains for when she agrees to host the nation’s first interplanetary exchange student, the alluring Aelyx from planet L’eihr. ALIENATED is slated to release in the fall of 2013 from Disney-Hyperion. In addition to YA, she publishes contemporary romance under the name Macy Beckett. Melissa would love to hear from you on Facebook and Twitter!
BBC: How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?
ML: Not much. I’d heard stories from author friends, but I was blissfully ignorant when it came to the details. I figured the less I knew, the less I’d stress.
BBC: Did anything about the process surprise you?
ML: Oh, sure. What surprised me most were the reasons some editors gave for rejecting my manuscript. One editor said she loved my work, but my “tone” was too similar to an author on their list. I remember thinking, Seriously? If they reject people for that, it’s a wonder anyone gets published!
BBC: Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?
ML: Hell to the no! And I wouldn’t recommend it, either. If you trust your agent to submit to the right editors, why torture yourself? Everyone knows that researching editors leads to twitter-stalking, and you’ll drive yourself insane in the membrane by overanalyzing each tweet. Whether or not an editor acquires your manuscript is beyond your control, so put them out of your mind and get to work on your next book.
BBC: What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?
ML: This is tough to answer. Some editors dipped in immediately, and some took months to start reading.
BBC: What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?
ML: Do whatever it takes to keep writing. If you know rejections are going to set you back, ask your agent not to forward them. If you can’t stop checking your email every five minutes, install “Freedom” (Google it) on your computer, and lock yourself off the internet for an hour at a time. You’ll feel better if you can immerse yourself in another manuscript.
BBC: If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally?
ML: Oddly enough, the only rejection that hurt was the first. I actually sat at my computer and cried—no lie. After that, something shifted inside me, and I sort of wrote the project off as a loss and focused on my next book.
BBC: When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?
ML: Surreal. That’s the only way I can describe how it felt. When my agent called, I was sitting in the New Orleans airport with my husband, getting ready to return home from a research trip. I’d known for a week beforehand that I was going to acquisitions at Disney-Hyperion, and I swear on my life, that was the longest and most torturous week EV-ER. So when I heard they’d made an offer (and a very nice one, at that!) I squealed and bounced in my seat, drawing the attention of every passenger in concourse A. My husband hugged and congratulated me, and then I had just enough time to call my mom and one of my crit partners before boarding the plane. I was flying high in more ways than one.
BBC: Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?
ML: YES! The offer came in early November, and I wasn’t allowed to make the announcement until February. I had to keep that SPECTACULAR news inside for THREE MONTHS! Why so long? Because my publisher wanted to wait until we’d agreed on a new title before announcing the deal in Publisher’s Marketplace. And while I agreed that was a good strategy, I felt like exploding. But look—I survived. J