You’ve just completed your masterpiece, you’ve researched a publisher or an agent and you’ve sent in your work as per the submission requirements. Now what?
You could do like I did with my first manuscript and sit in anxious anticipation waiting to get word back… and lose sleep and maybe even some of your sanity. Or you could start a new project.
Are you getting any sense of which way I think you might want to go yet?
Yes, I’ll admit it, I did do the first choice once. Or was it twice? Either way, I was going great guns right up until I sent the manuscript out. Then… nothing. That’s right, my productivity came to a complete standstill. What’s worse, I waited and waited, getting more and more anxious with each passing day. I also beat myself up because I wasn’t actually writing. I was only waiting.
After three months, the reply came back with a standard form-letter rejection. Did I start writing then? Of course not! I went through my manuscript with a fine-toothed comb trying to figure out what was wrong with it. That eventually meant another two months without any new writing. I sent it out again, but I was lucky enough to have Nanowrimo happening so I actually wrote something new. I didn’t obsess quite as much as the first time around.
The submission came back as another rejection. This time I tried to send it out to friends for review. The only critique I got back was “I think I know why you were rejected.” Nothing else was forth-coming. Not the following week or even three months later. Now, I do crave feedback, but as feedback goes that didn’t help me in the least. In fact, it probably knocked me back several paces. I put the manuscript on ice and moved on to my Nano book.
I edited and re-edited the thing before finally sending out nine query letters. I got three positive replies to the nine letters. The first publisher came back within ten days asking for more. I sent it (agonizing about what they might say). Within ten more days they asked for the complete manuscript. I sent that (REALLY agonizing about what they might say). A little over a month later, I had my first rejection for the story, this time with actual, honest-to-goodness feedback. Hooray!
I sent it out again.
During this round of submissions I also did something very different with my writing. I challenged myself to write 30 short stories in 30 days. My productivity actually was higher this time around.
Just after sending out the story for the second time (to a second publisher, naturally), I started writing a new story. This time, I wrote a 30,000 word young reader book in 45 days. A little off my Nano pace, but still respectable. I did think about the submitted book at least once a day, but it wasn’t as painful as the first book was. Maybe keeping my mind busy was a good thing.
Today, I received my second rejection for the second book. No big deal, actually! It was another form rejection which is fine. I’m busy editing my fourth book and I’ve already got the submission package together to send book two (the recently rejected one) out the the third responding publisher. This one wants the entire manuscript.
My alpha readers (wife and daughter) have already done the read-through for book four and I’m doing my first full edit. I have a beta reader rounded up for August and I’m very hopeful about the story’s success. I actually wrote it with the first publisher’s comments firmly in mind, so guess where it will be going first.
I’ve also dusted off the very first book I mentioned and have started a rewrite. While the original comment wasn’t overly useful from a “what’s wrong with the book” perspective, it did force me to take a serious look at the story. I saw many of its flaws for what they are and I’m pretty jazzed about where I think it will go this time around. Once the rewrite is done, it will begin to make the rounds. I’ve already got a friend prepared to recommend it to a publisher, so we’ll see how it goes.
I’ve also been busy making connections with people in the industry. I really hope I have some success that way too.
So, I’ve been pretty verbose without really getting to the point, haven’t I? Maybe I should stop talking and just give you the message already, right?
OK, here goes.
Anything you write is your baby and it’s scary to send it out. However, when the story is ready, you must let go and give it a chance. Send it out until there aren’t any publishers left to read it. You can take a few days in between submissions to incorporate any comments that might be made, but that’s it.
And while you’re waiting, start a new project. Start writing something new. As you no doubt have heard a thousand times, practice makes perfect. That is SO true. I thought my first book was pretty good and my second even better. I’m here to tell you that my third is better yet and once that first book is rewritten, it will likely be the best thing I’ve written to date.
That’s a good thing. It means that I’m learning and getting better with every word I write.
By the end of August I will have three books in circulation looking for a publisher. I think that will make my odds of getting published even better. I’ve also got my next Nano book to plot out (the kids have already heard my pitch for the story and they are demanding it get written), and I’ve got a great idea for a Science Fiction/Humor story that will really rock. I’ve also got editing to do on a couple of short stories so I can get them submitted too.
I think I might be pretty busy for the next while and you should be too.