Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Being On Submission (i.e. Waiting for the Rain)

Do you know that moment just before a big rainstorm, when the clouds are pregnant with rain and you can feel the heaviness in the air, but not a single drop of water has broken free? That anticipation, that knowing, that feeling that something is about to shift and change and suddenly the quiet stillness will give birth to something new? That's what it feels like to be on submission.

I wanted to blog about it because it's an important piece of the writing journey, one every writer certainly aspires to. I am blessed to have found such an amazing agent, and even more blessed that he has a really good eye for knowing what editors might really connect to this story. And so here I am, at the next rest stop, once again waiting, having faith, making prayers, and trying to quell the butterflies that are perpetually dancing in my stomach.

You see, the waiting game does not end when you get an agent. Far from it. Though that process alone can take anywhere from several weeks to several years, once you obtain representation, you may have to perform rewrites before your book gets sent out. And then, if it gets sent out to a few editors and they like it but have a few concerns and are kind enough to detail them, you may have to revise yet again to address those concerns in the hopes that they will be willing to revisit it. This part alone can take months.

Once an editor receives your book, if they like it, generally they have to take it to whomever is above them and win their approval too, and then ultimately, the book would move on to acquisitions, where that team also has to fall in love with it and stand behind it. Again, this process too can take anywhere from weeks to months.

There are far more agents than there are editors, so when you go out on submission you are going to a much smaller pool of people. This is quite daunting, because you only have so many chances for someone to fall in love with your work before you might need to put it aside. The good news is that editors do change houses, so what you are forced to put aside now may indeed be saleable somewhere down the line to fresh eyes, but ideally, we all want to sell our book NOW, right?

So right now I'm sitting here, waiting for the rain. My sky is absolutely pregnant with possibility, and I have no doubt the rain will come. The question is when, and what force will this storm bring? It's an exciting moment to be sitting this close to the threshold of seeing a lifetime dream become reality. There's something magical in soaking up the palpable essence of the moment that potentially divides those two things.

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