For those of you wondering why the submission process is so rarely talked about, I think it narrows down to three options.
The first, it’s sad.
The second, it’s ugly.
The third, it’s hard.
In all seriousness, it’s not an incredibly pleasant experience. Although searching for an agent for eight months was also not high on the “fun things to do” list, I felt it was easier and didn’t have so much pressure to it. When I was querying for an agent, I always knew that if I didn’t manage to snag an agent with my current project, I could simply query new ones and then discuss my older one with them.
Submitting to publishing houses feels different than submitting to agents. It feels less certain. Not that I was ever certain I’d get an agent with my project, but it didn’t feel as big.
One of my critique partners and I actually talked about this a few weeks back and why it’s hard to be out on submission. When you’re querying for an agent, you get a lot of rejection, but you also get those small victories of one asking for either a partial or full. There’s the thrill of getting into a contest. If you have a bad day writing wise or you feel like your writing isn’t moving as fast as you want it to, you have the option of sending more queries out into the void. And you do feel better. At least until a rejection hits.
Plus I feel like one of the main reasons it’s so rarely talked about is because people don’t want to go around talking about their rejections. Why would they? It’s hard to put work out there not knowing whether or not an editor will love it. Or if it will ever be in your hands in a physical copy from a publishing house.
The submission process is also a pretty lonely place. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have a critique partner out on sub with me right now. We share a lot of emails about expectations or hopes and fears and it somehow makes the process easier to handle.
I think if I didn’t have my critique partners, my writing friends, it would be a lot harder. So if you’re going out on sub, try not to do it alone. The writing community is full of people in the same position, even if they’re not talking about it on social media.
Some kind of secret trick to staying upbeat on the submission process would be great. But I unfortunately don’t think there is one. I will say that I’ve followed the advice of many writers about the process. Keep working on something new. I don’t think I’ve edited as much in the past few years as I have in the handful of months since my agent and I have been out on sub.
It’s pretty much like anything in life. Sometimes you experience disappointment, sometimes hope. Sometimes more of the former than the latter. But if you’re like me, and know for certain you want this, you’ll hang on until you get it. And maybe start offering sacrifices to the writing gods in the hopes of a quicker sell.
If you have any tips you used or are using while on submission, I’d love to hear from you! Either in the comments or on Twitter @judi__lauren.