Today's guest for the SHIT (Submission Hell, It's True) is my tried and true crit partner RC Lewis, author of STITCHING SNOW, her forthcoming 2014 Hyperion debut. In her honor, I've had to rename the SHIT for today, because as you'll see, her story is more of a Submission Heaven. But I think it's good for authors to see that these whirlwind success stories do happen... but you have to remember that RC's whirlwind was based on years of solid writing and more than a few manuscripts that had been passed on by agents - the calm before the storm, you might say.
How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?
Quite a bit, actually, thanks to friends who’d gone through it in the year or two before I did. (Um, such as Mindy.)
Did anything about the process surprise you?
That it went so fast. I was geared up for long waits and frustration ... basically the Query Trenches, Round Two. With earlier manuscripts, I spent upwards of a year querying one, waiting on fulls and partials, etc. Not so in this case. Sometimes it’s glacial migration, and sometimes it’s a flash flood.
Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?
I didn’t exactly. My agent gave me a one-line tidbit about each editor she submitted to. Like “Edited (Book X), is awesome, is building (Y type of story) in her list.” That was enough for me, but each writer needs to know their own comfort level. Some like digging into all the possible information, but some would go batty. (Or battier than we already are.)
What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?
There was an offer on the table after less than two weeks, which naturally meant the other editors still reading rumbled into motion. Within about another week, we had a done deal.
What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?
Distraction! Work on your new manuscript, catch up on your to-be-read pile, critique for others, throw yourself into non-writing-related hobbies. And remember the lessons learned while querying. Things can move slowly, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it takes one round of submissions. Sometimes it takes two or three. Sometimes the book that landed your agent won’t be the one that sells.
If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?
I was unusually fortunate in this case. Since the first offer came so quickly, the rejections felt less like a “No” and more like “Not a Yes.” Does that make any sense? I didn’t have to deal with the intense stings of many query/full rejections I’d had in the past.
But I’m keeping in mind that a single book deal does not mean I’m locked in for life.
If you got feedback on a rejection, how did you process it? How do you compare processing an editor’s feedback as compared to a beta reader’s?
Not really applicable in my case. :) But I talked to a couple offering editors on the phone, and we discussed the direction they were thinking of for revisions. Editorial feedback isn’t too different from working through things with critique partners, though sometimes you can feel the higher stakes. It’s all about working together to reach the best novel possible.
When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?
I got word of the first offer when my agent emailed me so I’d get online for chat. We had more than one offer, though, so in the end I guess I was the one saying yes. Weird position to be in!
Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?
I didn’t end up having to wait too long. The deal was announced in the Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf newsletter, so I just had to wait for that to go out before firing off the confetti cannons.