Journey to Published: The Submission Process

January 11, 2013

I’ve decided to try to go in a kind of chronological order in terms of this series of blog posts about my publication journey. I’m grouping my ideas and the questions I got/may get into three categories: pre-contract, contract, post-contract.

So, we’ll start these first few weeks with topics that fall into that pre-contract offer space.

First up, I want to talk a little about the submission process. Now, if you’ve ever submitted anywhere before you know that every publisher works differently. For example, I have signed a contract for three books to three different publisher and none of them have worked the same. Let me break down what the submission process looked like with each.

The Wild Rose Press

Subbed query and synopsis (5/20/11)

Partial Request (Chapters 1-3) (6/6/11)

Full Request (6/20/11)

Revision request (8/25/11)

Contract Offered (9/29/11)

Entangled Indulgence

Subbed query and first three chapters (5/4/12)

Synopsis Request (5/31/12)

Asked for revisions on first three chapters (5/31/12) (Sent 6/2)

Full Request (6/2)

Contract Offered after agreeing that specific revisions would still need to be done (6/21)

Samhain Publishing

Subbed query/synopsis/full (6/13/12)

Contract Offered (12/5/12)

Right off the bat you can see that each publisher wanted different things in the first submission. Also, different publishers did more revisions before offering a contract. Some had a multi-tiered process, some just wanted the full. This is why it’s so important to follow submission guidelines. No two publishers are exactly the same and no two publishers are looking for exactly the same thing in a submission. (Also, apparently I should always submit in May and June, huh?)

If you look at the time frame, you’ll notice that each also had a difference. For both my TWRP and Samhain submission, I was at some point beyond the “normal” response time. Now, while it’s not frowned upon to send a status email to any of these publishers in my experience, I found that my nudge emails were unnecessary.

Editors are going to get to your manuscript eventually. Sometimes it may be quickly (I was very lucky to hit Entangled when I did, because of their growth it takes longer to hear back from them now). Sometimes, it may be longer. It is very rare for a manuscript to go astray especially when you get an automated response, as I did from all of these publishers. Sure, my paranoid brain told me maybe my email had been lost, but the truth of the matter was I received the automatic response, and publishers are typically very organized in this matter. After all, think of how many submissions they see in a day.

Sometimes, a nudge helped ease my fear of being lost, but it didn’t actually amount to anything. The editor got to it when it fit their schedule, and if you think about all that these editors do (sometimes also with a full or part-time job on the side), they have very full schedules. Sometimes everything will fall within a given time window, sometimes it wont.

I’ve heard this of agents, but it applies to editors as well. The greatest portion of their job is dedicated to the authors they’ve already acquired. If they acquire you, you’d want this to be the case. Waiting sucks. SUCKS. Especially when it’s longer than you think it’s going to be, but it’s a fact of life and a HUGE fact of publishing life.

I think, in nudging, it’s important to remember that this is a business. Yes, your MS might feel personal to you, but treat your writing and the people in publishing as you would treat anyone you work with. You probably wouldn’t go whining to your boss every day if he didn’t do something when you wanted him to. Yes, occasionally you may need to say something, but be careful about how and when.

If you’ve been in the submitting roundabout before, you’ve heard the age old adage that the best thing to do when waiting is write the next book. I get irritated when people tell me that, because duh I’m going to keep writing. Still, it’s true. If you let yourself get truly lost in the next manuscript the wait is easier, and you’ll find yourself obsessing less and whether you get an acceptance or pass, you have another book ready.

At the very least, arm yourself with a CP who will listen to you whine. God knows the amount of whiney emails I’ve sent mine. Also, back away from Twitter. When you’re waiting it can make you crazy.

Next week I’ll talk about pre-contracted revisions. You’ll notice I’ve done that twice.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments about this or anything else you might want to hear about.

Nicole

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