Queries & Submissions Part 2: The Good, the Bad, & the Lost in Space
Last week I shared a few Naked Truths about the query and submission process, and because I like you, I’m going to throw another Naked Truth out there. Here it is:
If you want to be published, you must write.
After you’ve written, you must submit.
That statement is so obvious that it might be misconstrued as condescending. Quite the contrary. Submitting is a scary prospect for some, and because it is, there are many good writers whose wonderful work will never see the light of day—not because their writing isn’t up to snuff, but because they’re afraid to submit it. It’s tough to push our babies out of the metaphorical nest without knowing whether they’re going to fly or go splat. If you’re one of those writers who lives by the code of “write and release,” I applaud you. Keep up the good work! If you’re the opposite sort, the kind who allows self-doubt to stifle your creative muse, then I beg you to push past those fears. Write. Submit. Repeat.
For years I was the latter sort of writer. A blank page was never my problem. It was self-doubt that ruled the roost (and often still does) and it was a hard line for me to cross, that giant step from not submitting to submitting. It wasn’t until I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and gave my work a shove that I realized having it go splat wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to it. No, the worst thing would be if I never gave it the chance to fly.
A few weeks ago I participated in a game of blog tag wherein I answered several questions about my writing process and my works in progress. At the time, I had completed Book 1 of a romantic trilogy and was hard at work on Book 2. I was querying/submitting Book 1 and hoping for the best.
I’m organized and maintain a spreadsheet of submissions and queries with all the pertinent info so I don’t forget what’s what or who’s who. My first submission for Book 1 was in August of last year, and my last was in May of this year. That’s nine months of querying, and here’s how it all played out, the good, the bad, and the lost in space:
- Over the course of those nine months, I submitted 21 queries. (Wipes brow.)
- 9 never responded. (How rude!)
- 7 sent outright rejections. (So sad. Must gorge on ice cream.)
- 4 requested either samples or the full ms. (Oh, happy day! The query letter did its job!)
- 1 of those 4, on follow up, claimed never to have received my submission, and the editor who requested the work had quit. An editorial intern invited me to resubmit. (I declined.)
- Another of those 4 never responded. (So what else is new?)
- 2 of the 4 who requested samples and/or the full ms sent thoughtful, personal letters complimenting my work while declining to accept it, but their words were uplifting and they encouraged me to continue submitting. (Disappointed, but not reduced to eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s alone in the back of a dark closet, i.e bullet point #3.)
- And 1 responded with, “I’m delighted with your work and would like to offer you a contract to publish . . .” (SQUEEE!)
On June 14th I received my acceptance from the acquisitions editor at Black Opal Books, a small publisher I discovered via glowing comments on the RWA PRO forum where I’m a regular lurker. I contacted current and past Black Opal authors to get the scoop, and because writers are such a supportive and chatty bunch, I compiled enough information about this publisher to write a book. Ha.
I held off sharing the news because the ink had yet to dry on the contract and I’m just superstitious enough that I didn’t want to jinx the deal by blabbing. But I received the final contract today, so barring nuclear devastation or an alien invasion, all systems appear to be go, Buttercup!
The best part? It’s a 3-book contract. I’m beyond thrilled that my romantic trilogy will be published in its entirety with the same house.
So. Excited. And nervous, angsty, worried, etc. because—gak!—what if the books bomb? What if the little buggers refuse to fly? Self-doubt still prowls my psyche on a regular basis. The publishing contract didn’t change that reality, and there’s only one thing I can do to beat it back:
Write. Submit. Repeat.
Which kind of writer are you? A Write-&-Releaser, a Self-Doubter, or a Combo? How do you push past the self-doubt? If you are reluctant to submit your work, will you take the challenge and commit to doing it? Please put yourself in the Buff and leave a comment.
Thanks for being here. See you next week for the Naked Truth about . . . Prepping for Conference.
See you then. Have a great week!