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Monday, September 28, 2015

Submission Process Part 1: Dante and the waiting game

Previously, I talked about the process of finding an agent (it was long and I made many mistakes). I also wanted to share my experience taking a manuscript to publishers.  I know this will be more valuable for the writers out there, but this process has taught me many lessons about patience and accepting the unexpected.  It's also shaped new ideas about how to measure success.  Perhaps, those will be useful to you. For this post, then, I'll give more of a brief background and move into the lessons next time around. 

When I was querying, it seemed as if  finding an agent was the holy grail.  If I could just land an agent, my path to publication would look like this:

Straight, narrow, and with the perfect final destination. 

Ah, if only.  It probably looks a little more like this:

Rocky, difficult, and with unknown destination.

My agent and I worked for a couple of months to get the manuscript in tip top shape before she sent it off to editors. It was finally official.  I was "on submission," and I was equal parts excited and nervous.  

On the absolutewrite forums, they refer to being on submission as the next circle of hell, and while I wouldn't say it's quite that bad, it's definitely true that being becoming agented is a step toward publication.  Much like writing itself or querying, for some folks, a sale is practically instant.  Others may have to move on to another project. Obviously, an agent won't take you on if they don't think they will be successful, but they can't predict everything either. 

I admit I was relieved to be on submission probably more than anything.  After such a long query process where I had to actively monitor everything, I could just sit back and wait.  And I had to wait a long time. It took us about six months before we got any feedback.  My agent had prepared me for potentially slow responses, but that certainly put a damper on my dreams.  Still, life was busy, and I managed to forget to worry about it for months at a time.  Then my agent and I would touch bases with new rejections (all maddeningly positive, as Jen said).  After a year, though, I pretty much assumed it was time to let it go.  I started talking to Jen about which manuscript to prepare next.  

Like that proverbial watched pot that doesn't boil, the minute I started thinking more about other projects, I got the amazing news about an offer.  

As joyful as it was to get the news, I think all the waiting and the fear made it difficult to fully embrace and accept that it's real.  

Plus, the waiting isn't over.

Stay tuned for Submission Process Part Two: Serious business (and more waiting).  I'll post that next week as part of the Insecure Writer's Group for the first Wednesday of the month. 

In the meantime, does waiting build your anticipation? Are you able to avoid negative thoughts when waiting for news?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The positive side of insecurity

Most folks in my social circle have already heard the good news.  My debut novel will be published in Fall of 2016 by Sky Pony Press.  I am obviously over-the-moon.  It's the big one, right?  Dream come true, bucket list kind of stuff.  It's the end goal of this whole thing, so by definition, it should mean I'm no longer insecure, right?  Well, not exactly.

First of all, despite seeing the announcement in print and even seeing that it's already got a goodreads page, I'm not sure it feels real just yet.  I could say that'll come when there's a cover, but I'm guessing I'll need to see the book in print before reality sets in.  Even then, who knows? 

More than that though, I've been thinking about the very concept of insecurity.  There's the definition most of us use: "An uncertain or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence" which is what we're all dealing with in these monthly posts and support for each other.  It's rooted in a deep sense of not feeling good enough. 

On the other hand, we can twist this a bit.  Another definition of insecurity is "the state of being open to danger or threat; lack of protection." That's scary, sure, but it implies risk and the potential for reward.  It's about action and putting ourselves out there. 

After I got my agent, I did a series of posts about that process and some lessons learned.  I'm going to do something similar now in describing the submission process and beyond.  I've found that throughout this whole journey, the more I knew about what to expect, the less my insecurity crippled me.  The more I felt okay with being open to danger, so to speak.  

For now I say, embrace your insecurity.  

Keep trying to do things that you may not feel confident doing, that involve risk.