Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mission: Submission

I know I have to submit my manuscripts. I really do. But lately I seem to suffer from a malady I'll call "submission indecision".

Let me explain.

After I've completed a manuscript that I envision could eventually become a book, I revise it as much as I possibly can and then I send it out into the world. Or at least that's what I should do.

I think of the perfect publisher. And I'm all ready to send it there. I really am.

Until... I discover their 11 month average response time to unsolicited submissions. And I start to have my doubts.

Maybe I should try to get an agent so I can bypass the slush, I think to myself. So I start researching agents.

But then I think about the variety of genres I write in, and I start to have my doubts again. Which single manuscript would be best to showcase me to an agent?

Now, you might think it would be easier once I finally send a manuscript on its way. And, other than the waiting, it is.

But then it comes back. And I've got to decide what to do with it all over again.

If it comes back with a rejection that indicates it completely missed its mark, I worriedly put it aside, trying to figure out how to fix it.

And, if it comes back with a glowing rejection indicating it came "oh so close" to making it. Believe it or not, sometimes that's even worse. Then I worry about using up all my best publishing options with a bunch of "close calls". (It's especially tough when the manuscript is aimed at a niche market with few possible option for unsolicited submissions... like poetry or easy readers.)

So the poor lonely manuscript sits on my hard drive. Waiting.

Does anyone else suffer from this malady? How do the rest of you get your manuscripts out in the world where they belong?


  1. Me too! Sometimes I don't sub things, and sometimes I just force myself to send it out there, and I'm always glad I did. Even if it's a rejection, I'm doing something and moving in the right direction. I need to do that more. When I get my new WIP done, my goal is to send it out!

    Good luck getting your manuscripts out the door too!

  2. Thanks for responding, Stephanie! I definitely know what you mean about even rejections being a move in the right direction. I might as well find out that doesn't meet their needs and move on to the next possible publisher... who just could be the perfect fit!

    P.S. You illustrated my very first published poem several years ago for Dragonfly Spirit. I still have your wonderful illustration of "My Snowman" in my clips folder!

  3. I know just what you mean. My MG that came close with a major publisher has been languishing on the sidelines since, waiting for me to sprinkle fairy dust on it, or whatever it takes to make it perfect.

    I NEED to send it back out again.

  4. Speaking as the Queen of Doubts, I have discovered that my lack of faith has actually helped me with submissions. I have lowered my expectations, so I don't get as upset when the rejection comes. I just do a bit more research to find that "perfect publisher" or agent (never expecting that they will be the "perfect" publisher or agent) and send it out again.

    I do identify with Brianna's quandary of which manuscript represents my best writing for which publisher/agent. And then I remember that I have low expectations anyhow so I just wing it - while always remaining profession, of course.

  5. I heard Harold Underdown speak at a conference a few years back and he said something to the effect that if you really research the publishers, your submission list would be fairly small. I know it doesn't sound awfully hopeful (kind of like a balloon leaking helium...) but that's what I've done.

    As for getting an agent vs. getting an editor...eeek, think that's like What came first the chicken or the egg?

    I guess it all comes down to the fact that a manuscript won't be published unless it's out there...so get it out there!

  6. Oh, yes, this disease runs wild among writers. I was just fretting today about a poem I wrote and submitted in hopes of matching a magazine's "wish list." Well, it was rejected and now it sits.

    I've done some looking at guidelines for other print and online magazines, but that takes time! I'd rather be writing.

    So who knows when that poem will be submitted again!

  7. I didn't know that was you! (I should have, but I didn't put it together until you said something.) I still have your wonderful poem with my snowman picture!!

    Thanks for saying something. :0)

  8. Hey Guys, Very fun to have so many responses to respond to...

    Judy-- I know what you mean about wanting "fairy dust" to sprinkle on that "oh so close" manuscript. Aah, if we could market that, then we'd have a besteller, wouldn't we?

    Meg-- I do think I've gotten better at not getting crushed by rejections, bu maybe I'm still too much of an optimistic worrier. (What a combination! :o) )

    Robin-- Harold Underdown's point is exactly what scares me. After careful research, it just seems that there are so few possible options for some manuscripts. But you're exactly right, it won't get published unless I send it out there.

    Gale-- Good luck finding the time to find the magazine you can send that poem to!

    Stephanie-- So neat to make a connection with someone who has illustrated my words!

  9. I think I have the opposite problem...I'm so excited that I want to get it out there. I did this at first but when I really should have sat on the manuscript a while, revised a little more then sent it out. I'm slightly more careful now, but I do just want to get my stories out there!

  10. I totally know what you're saying, Kelly. Believe it or not, I've actually erred in that direction too. In fact, it's some of those same manuscripts that went out on that first round too quickly that now make me hesitant to send them out on again. If I managed to make them so much better between round one and round two, will I be able to find even more ways to make them better, I wonder. But I know I have to remember that my manuscript is never perfect. I can just make it as good as I know how to make it and send it on its way!

  11. And then we go back to examples I've seen from editors of submissions that were far from perfect, but accepted for publication. They loved the idea, and the writing was competent. So they worked with the writer to make it shine.

    Yet we all strive to make our work more than shine before submitting. We want it to positively sparkle.

  12. We've ALL sent out manuscripts before they were ready. I'm embarrassed to recall all the "newbie" errors I made when I was a newbie. Now I'm an oldbie! I still make errors, but not that one.