Queries and Submissions… Oh, my!

It’s a no-brainer: writers love to write. Find a plot or an interesting character lurking in the brain’s back room and away we go, plotting (or not) and happily unravelling story complexities for hours, days, probably weeks… to the exclusion of all sorts of potential distractions. Housework? It can wait. Family? They’ll understand. Grocery shopping? Mmm, maybe a quick trip to stock up on essentials like chocolate and chai tea and Diet Coke.

When the initial writing is done we’re willing to delve right back into it, editing, revising and even rewriting. It’s what writers do, right?  Pick away at it from every angle until we get it ‘just so’.

Jay 2

When it’s finally ready, we steel ourselves to send it out into the world — to critique partners first, then to beta readers. Finally the day comes when we can’t stall any longer. The story is as good as it’s going to get under our hand. It’s time to find an agent or editor to mentor us through the next stage, time to send the manuscript out on submission. Ackkk!

That’s what sends me into a flap.

Jay 1

I end up all a-flutter, suddenly convinced that it’s premature… surely another revision is necessary. If it’s not the best I can make it, sending it out now could be a mistake. I begin to re-read. It’s total crap! I’m sure it is. At least, the whisperings of that nasty Inner Critic sitting on my shoulder are telling me it is.

What’s the solution? Do we re-work and polish manuscripts until the life is sucked out of them, then shelve them in favour of starting something new? Do we close our eyes to the possible shortcomings and throw them into the public eye, hoping the recipients will be kind and limit laughter and jeering to the confines of their own office before sending out the rejection letter? Or… dare I suggest it? Do we stand tall, pull up our big-girl britches and recognize when we’ve done the best we can for now — ‘for now’ meaning we accept the reality that there will undoubtedly be recommended edits forthcoming — and take the next step?

Jay 3

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking in my world than hovering my finger over the ‘send’ key. Despite what others suggest, it never gets easier for me. Over the years I’ve read plenty of books on the craft of writing, studied agents’ and editors’ blogs to glean helpful information and listened carefully to the experiences of other more seasoned writers. I’m developing a fat resource file, but nothing nourishes the seed of confidence that will tell me, “Yes, DO it now. You’re ready.”

Earlier this week I printed out another item to add to my file from the Books & Such Literary Agency blog: “Minimize the obstacles to publication“, a post written by agent Rachelle Gardner. Her very first point is, “Not working on your book and your writing craft long enough.” ::sigh:: See what I mean?

I just might have to peck out a bit more on this revision. I’m aiming to make it public soon, but… not today.

*

What convinces you that your work is ready for public scrutiny? How do you block out the negative Inner Critic’s evil whisperings?

~  ~  ~

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Queries and Submissions… Oh, my!

  1. S. Etole says:

    Love the way your photos fit it here. My son has been known to remark, “Don’t edit the life out of it.”

  2. Jenn Hubbard says:

    When I started sending my stories out, way back when, maybe 10% of them were of publishable quality, but I didn’t know that then. I’m not sure I could have known that, except the way I found it out … by continuing to submit (and get, mostly, rejected), by continuing to read and to polish my writing. I’m not saying writers should send out their first drafts, but if they’ve worked on them and done their best and gotten feedback, then the only way to really know *at that point* is to test the waters.

    I also think that writers, if they really work at it and really learn, eventually hit a point where almost everything they write is of publishable quality. But it may or may not have a market, which is a separate question. Usually at this stage, writers will see more personalized rejections, along the lines of, “You have the goods, but I’m not sure I can sell this particular story.”

    You could always pay for a professional critique, which means that an expert conversant with the business will give you an opinion, and that may be a better indicator than gut feelings, but it’s still not foolproof either.

  3. It’s really a guessing game for me. Always has been. I’m still reeling over the fact that I’d like to change things about my first book. I doubt that feeling ever goes away.

    As for my grocery list… how you know I needed those 3 things exactly!

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s