A few readers have noticed that I haven’t been writing about . . . well, writing lately. Yes, life is busy (you know how long it took to make all that Minecraft Halloween/birthday stuff?) but trust me, I’ve been 95% in writing mode.
Technically, in submission mode.
Yup, I’ve tossed my baby out there. I’ve entered the Fight Club.
Errr— I mean—The SUBMISSION CLUB.
Wait, that still sounds like something from Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s not. I swear.
For those not in the business, once a writer has slaved over every single comma, dash, and precious word in their manuscript, they submit it to agents, who then submit it to publishers. Someday. Maybe.
A super-quick rundown of the submission process:
- Finish the damn book. Perfect the damn book. Love it as much as a child.
- Write a query letter—250 titillating words that must tempt an agent into requesting more of your work. This can take
weeks months and dozens of revisions.
- Write the book synopsis. This means taking those 100,000 words (400 pages) you ever so carefully arranged and condense them down to 3-5 pages. You must include the entire plot, all major conflicts, characters, personality, oh, and if you can write it so it conveys the tone of your novel, that would be great as well. …weeks later… Now, slash it down to a one page version, too.
- Carefully research literary agents. Scour writer’s forums. Winnow down the list of thousands of agents to a few hundred who actually seek your genre. Check agency websites, pour over agent blogs, Google interviews, follow twitter feeds. Make pretty, color-coded spreadsheets.
- Decide which agents you will query first. Decide how many you will query at a time. Study their individual submission guidelines. Yes, it’s different for every single one. Adjust your query letter, synopsis, bio, and sample chapters accordingly. Follow every single direction. If you don’t, you will be rejected. Immediately.
- Once you have that submission package PERFECT—you must hit SEND. I tend to hover over the button for a half-hour, then go check everything for the tenth time. PRESS SEND. (My heart is racing just writing about this moment. For real.)
- Check email every 5 minutes.
- This waiting can go on forever. Okay, not forever, but most agents say they respond in between 4 – 12 weeks. Some respond only if interested.
- Deal with rejections. (Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller The Help—60 rejections. I know many writers who have kept going after hundreds. It happens to even the best of books and writers.)
- And then—open an email from an agent requesting more pages!!!!! They might ask for a partial manuscript or a full (whoohoo!) or anywhere in between. Do a Snoopy Dance.
- Repeat steps 6 – 15.
- Keep going. Go back to step 5. Repeat.
- Achieve goal. *The goal is to acquire an agent, who will then sell your book to a publisher. This entire process can take years. That’s just how it goes. (So please stop asking me if my book will be in the bookstore by Christmas.) You have to want it. You have to be brave. You have to be slightly crazy.*
Okay, so that wasn’t so super-quick, but when you wonder if I chow on bon bons while watching HGTV all day, the answer is a resounding NO. (::sigh:: Sometimes I DO watch HGTV. It keeps me company.)
That’s what’s going on in my world. But I can’t really blog about it.
Agents are pretty smart and savvy cookies. Agents read blogs. Agents check out social media. They know their way around Google. One does not want to upset, confuse, or irritate said agents. That means querying writers must keep their mouths shut and fingers still—at least in reference to discussing/ranting about the trials and tribulations of the querying process.
In addition, other writer friends read blogs/follow us on social media, and no one likes a braggart. Or someone constantly whining about rejection.
A few stats for your reading pleasure~
Literary Agent Carly Watters kindly posted her 2012 query stats on her blog:
Queries received: Approximately 6,000
Partial manuscript requests: 189 (She looked at a lot of partials because she was building her list. Anything that she thought had potential to be a fit she requested.)
Full manuscript requests: 30
New clients from the slush pile: 7 (That’s a lot. She won’t be signing that many this coming year.)
Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency (and the fab Pub Rants Blog) posted her astounding 2012 stats as well:
32,000+ or some big number…
estimated number of queries read and responded to. Down from last year as they closed queries in the month of December.
full manuscripts requested and read (up from 69 last year).
number of new clients
That’s 16 new people signed. Out of 32,000+. Yeah. I’m not even going to work those percentages.
Sooo, dear friends and family, there will be times when I feel like I’ve had the snot beat out me as the rejections roll in (if only it was by someone as hot as Brad Pitt), and there will be moments when I’m riding on an adrenalin high after a win (a.k.a. an agent request). I’m not showing signs of bipolar disorder. I don’t need prescription medication.
Let the nail biting begin. Wait. I don’t bite my nails. Maybe I should start. I don’t smoke. I don’t run. I eat chocolate. I do yoga sometimes. Send chocolate and yoga studio memberships, please. And wine! I’ll just be hanging out here nibbling dark chocolate and
chugging sipping chardonnay while getting on my om.
And plotting my next book.
If you’d like to see a humorous run-down, check this out on Writer’s Relief:
Deciding your work is ready for the world to see:
READ MORE HERE