Monday, November 22, 2010

So what exactly is the submission process?


On Friday, I said I was starting the submission process. Blogging through the highs and lows of this past year has been such an encouraging and thought-provoking exercise. So even though I've now finished my MA, I'd like to continue blogging, and to describe my submission process (without getting into too many specifics!).

So first I thought I'd explain what I mean by the submission process.

What's being sent?

An email query letter describing Project Sparkle and myself. Some agents want only that, others would also like the first 5-10 pages of my manuscript.

Obviously, that means query letters are really important, especially when you consider agents may get hundreds a week. I originally wrote my letter for my Publishing course. I rewrote it again this summer, with help from the Blueboard. I revised it again this past week.

To whom is it being sent?

A handful of agents. Most publishing houses no longer look at "unsolicited manuscripts." So a writer's best bet to get published is to have her work submitted by an agent. Also, agents can help with further revisions, deal with the business side of things, and support an author throughout her career. I definitely want an agent.

Why those agents?

I chose agents with a good reputation, who work with authors who write books in a similar genre to Project Sparkle. I chose agents who represent children's books (some of them only represent children's books). I chose agents who I think I would want to work with (their clients rave about how kind they are, they do a lot of work on writing with their clients, they come across as really smart and passionate on their blogs).

Why only a handful?

If every single agent rejects me, I'll know my query letter may not be good enough, or my first 5-10 pages aren't of interest. It gives me time to go back to the drawing board before I send out another group of letters.

On the flip side, if several of the agents I write to are interested (what a dream!), it means I'm only deciding between a handful, rather than fifty of the best in the business.

How long do you think it will take?

I don't know. In the past, I've received rejections minutes after I've sent query letters. I've received requests for partials (part of the manuscript) in hours. I've also waited weeks and months. Some agents don't respond if they're not interested. It's a very busy job, and query letters aren't usually a top priority (dealing with clients is!).

I'm hoping I'll have a sense of whether most of the agents are interested or not by Christmas. Then I can plan my next steps, whatever the outcome.

What will happen?

Goodness, I don't know! Who's writing these questions?

Best possible outcome, one or more agents will get back to me and ask to see a partial or a full manuscript. If that happens, the process will be drawn out, as they need time to read the entire novel and consider it.

If no one's interested, I'll do some revisions and submit to another group of agents. If I'm lucky, some of the agents will have sent me a "personalized rejection" explaining why they weren't interested. This will help me to make it better for the next round. Also, sometimes agents ask for a "revise & resbumit" if they're interested in a manuscript, but aren't sure whether or not the writer will be able to revise it sufficiently.

What will I do in the meantime?

Check my email every 3 minutes.

Actually, in an effort to avoid that, I'm hoping to get back to Project Demo, which I'm only about a fourth of the way into. Unfortunately, I also have a cold coming on, so I'll probably spend some time on the couch reading and watching bad TV--with my computer across the room so I have to get up to check email.

Please feel free to ask any questions! For those of you who have submitted, how did it go? Have I covered everything? Did you do anything differently?

5 comments:

  1. It sounds like you have things all figured out. It's a grueling process, but the more you can distract yourself with other things, the easier it is. Good luck!!

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  2. I agree with Anna, this is well-thought out and you've covered your bases. I know you're hoping to hear back by Christmas, but I wouldn't assume that. One, it's the holidays, and two, a lot of people seem to submit during the holidays. (Not sure why, maybe because they're off work and have the time to submit?) Getting back to Project Demo sounds like a good idea—writing the next book is always a good plan. :) Hope your cold is better!

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  3. Thanks, Anna! Yes, distraction is the hard part, isn't it? I think for me it's hard diving into a different project at the best of times.

    You got me counting, Andrea, and you're right--Christmas is soon! I think I'll be competing with all the crazy non-revising NaNoers, too.

    Alright, back to Project Demo! =)

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  4. My record was an R on an e-query that came in 2 minutes after I sent it.
    {gloom mutter mutter} Finally I convinced myself the agent was just to busy to look at any queries and had set up his email to send Rs automatically.

    It helped.

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  5. Oh dear, Anne, that is pretty bad. It really is such a disheartening process, isn't it?

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