When Jacob Wonderbar went out to editors I really thought I was going to be completely cool about the submission process. I’m an agent! I’ve seen this before! I’ve sold projects that were out on submission for six months and even a year! How hard could it be?
So. Being a Big Bad Experienced Agent, how long did it take me to crack?
A week and a half.
A WEEK AND A HALF.
That’s how long it took before I woke up in the middle of the night to check my e-mail and whisper, “It’s not going to sell! It’s not going to sell. I can’t believe it, it’s not going to sell.”
Now, bear in mind that I know that even when books sell they almost never sell in a week and a half. I know that!! A book selling in a week and a half is almost unheard of. But for some reason everything I knew went out the window. It’s like I turned into a doctor who’s afraid of needles.
Luckily I was able to keep my panic within the walls of my apartment, but all the same. The experience gave me a huge new respect for just how hard it is to be waiting to hear about your manuscript.
Writing is hard. It’s hard, it’s time-consuming, it’s solitary… it’s hard. But at least it’s within your control. You can change things, you can work harder and revise more, and it’s all within your reach. Writing is the fun part.
The frustrating thing about submitting to agents and editors is that there’s nothing. you. can. do. about. it. Once you hit send you’re at their mercy. The stress of always wondering if today is the day you’re going to receive good or bad news, of always sneaking peeks at your e-mail, and trying to be cool and composed in front of the people who are invested in your work, and hearing all those nos before you get your yeses…. it’s a steady stress that wears you down.
Everyone has their breaking point. Turns out mine is embarrassingly short.
Now that I’ve gone through this myself, I really really try as much as I can to avoid keeping people waiting. I try so hard to keep waiting to a minimum. At the same time, a certain amount of time is just built into the process simply because it takes a long time to read a lot of different projects.
How do you cope with the waiting?
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Art: George Goodwin Kilburne – Awaiting the Return of the Fleet
Rhiannon Hart says
Lolcats. It's impossible to be sad when you look at a lolcat.
Ginger Clarks submitting my work right now, and I find I'm calm at the moment. Ask me again when Christmas rolls around and I still haven't heard anything…
Geoff Stokker says
The worst part is that you grasp at straws.
I live in South Africa and there is no market in SA for the kind of novels which I write so I've sent through queries to agents in New York.
My cell rings the other day and the thing I hear when I answer is an American woman saying 'Please hold, your call is being connected.' My mind immediately leaps to the possibility that an agent would like to read more than just the query letter and my whole body goes numb.
Turns out it was only an electronic switchboard routing the call from a company in SA.
Oh well. Now I'm preparing for round two of submissions.
Thank you all so much. Relieved to know I'm not the only one who lost it after two weeks "out there." 😀
Michael M. Hughes says
I want to see all of the rejections, despite each one ripping out a little hunk of my soul. Sometimes they are very complimentary, as you pointed out, and that gives me a morsel of hope to cling to. Most of the rejections I've been getting since my book started circulating have said nice things about my writing, the plot, and the characters, which, while it's nice to hear, makes me want to scream, "Well, why don't you want to buy it?!" It's that "just not right for us" nebulousness that I'm sure drives many of us to hard liquor or to consider giving up writing for something less painful — like professional kickboxing.
But I always keep in mind that I am incredibly fortunate to have found an agent who believes in me and my work. Repeated rejection is the price of entry to this profession. And it only takes *one* editor to say yes.
Jonathan Porter says
Okay, I know this is over ten years old, but I needed to hear this. I’ve had several editors like my manuscript, but felt they weren’t right for it; I’ve had others want to take my manuscript, but the higher-ups didn’t; I’ve also had 2 editors truly hate my manuscript and called me to question my purpose in this world. It’s been months, and I’m at my breaking point. God, I hope it ends soon.
Nathan Bransford says
Hang in there!