I’d Submit My Manuscript But…

April 13, 2011

I hope this post serves as a kick in the ass, because I need one. I’ve been writing full time for over a year, and I’ve submitted four times. Four. I’m pretty sure that ranks as pathetic.

The first time I mustered the courage, I sent an email query to an agent who responded a week later with a lovely request for the first three chapters and synopsis. A couple weeks later, I received an email rejection in which the agent told me to work on my “atmosphere.”

I did—even though I wasn’t sure what that meant. I read a lot more, and I told myself that when I’d atmosphere-d my MS to perfection, I’d submit to another agent on my list.

I did that. The agency’s policy was email queries. If they were interested, I would hear something in about three months. I didn’t hear anything.

In the meantime, I wrote. I participated in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write (SYTYCW) and submitted the first chapter and synopsis to my latest (at the time) manuscript (MS). I received a rejection with feedback.

Taking that feedback to heart, I made changes. I found a great critique partner (CP), and she offered me additional perspective on the rejected MS. She saw the story fitting into another Harlequin line, and as if by fate, the line announced a pitch contest.

I entered. Sent along two paragraphs and waited.

Not picked.

Now? I keep telling myself I’ll submit after my synopsis course. But I’m starting to think I’m procrastinating. (I even procrastinated on making the determination that I was procrastinating.)

Four manuscripts are waiting for me to do something—five if you count my work in progress (WIP). The first is the single title submitted to two agents. The second is an MS I edited down from a single title and steamed up in hopes of submitting to Blaze. The third is a single title I haven’t looked at in over a year. The fourth is my SYTYCW entry, which I submitted as a Blaze, then rewrote to make a Desire and entered in the Desire pitch. The fifth is being written as a Desire.

At some point I need to submit, don’t I? I keep telling myself that every writer has a collection of stories under the bed that were never meant to be submitted. Is this accurate? Are these my “practice” manuscripts? Or am I making excuses?

I give myself to the end of this synopsis class to decide. (Lord, this sound like another excuse.) Really. I’m going to have my CP hold me accountable. (Are you reading this, Nicole?)

Whether it’s one, three or all five, I’m going to submit. Soon.  And I’m going to stop making the following excuses.

Non-valid Submission Excuses

  1. Publisher X takes too long to respond. (Oh yeah? Because sitting in a never-opened file in the laptop or stashed in a dusty box underneath my bed is the shortest route to publication.)
  2. International postage is such a hassle to deal with. (Could be. Don’t know. I’ve never made it to the post office to find out. And I won’t know unless I do.)
  3. Publisher Y only accepts snail mail, which means I have to print out the entire manuscript. That’s so much paper, ink and time—not to mention the price of postage. (Most of these publishers do not require the entire manuscript up front, so if I’m actually to the point where I’m facing a request for the full manuscript, the cost and time of printing and the cost of postage should be outweighed by the sheer joy of getting this far.)
  4. I’m still not sure if the story fits. (Usually said after reading oodles of books from the line I’m targeting. I actually do this…pretend I’m not “getting” the line or focus on one scene in my manuscript and deem it un-Blaze or un-Desire or un-whatever.)
  5. The story’s not ready. (After four revisions, a read through by my “ideal reader” and a full critique by my CP. When exactly is it ready? Beats the hell out of me.)

4 Responses to “I’d Submit My Manuscript But…”

  1. taristhread Says:

    Okay, the only fiction manuscript I’ve submitted was for a children’s book, I had the manuscript sold, and the publisher went out of business while we were working on the contract…never submitted again.

    But I have to tell you 4 rejections…especially if you get feedback is nothing. I can’t remember how many rejections Ray Bradbury said he’d had before he sold a manuscript, but it was more than 4 I know that. The author of Superman was told that his story was only fit for the circular file because it was unbelievable. I’ve heard so many stories of now iconic writer’s who received many rejections before selling that first manuscript. You’re in good company. Put a stamp on it, and send it out!!

  2. nicolehelm Says:

    Holding you accountable starting now! Even though I am guilty of about half of the procrastination reasons on your list… ESPECIALLY #2!

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