Submitting your book to agents is one thing. It’s a writer’s first time putting it all out there and the responses are varied.
However, when your agent submits your book to a publisher that’s a whole other level of stress. It can be exciting! Finally, it’s out there in the world. And it can be worrying…what happens to my project now? You might hear back from editors in a week or a few months. It could be good news or bad.
Here are 5 things to do while your book is on submission:
Trust your agent. We have your best interests at heart, truly. If you don’t trust your agent then you shouldn’t have signed with them. Let us handle the submissions and worry about the business side. We will consult you on decisions. Pull together with your agent at this time because the bonding will happen.
Vent with other writers, but never online. I hope this goes with out saying, but I do see writers participating in this and I want to warn them off. Tweeting/Blogging/Facebook-ing about your submissions to publishers (or agents for that matter) is not considered appropriate behavior for a number of reasons: privacy, keeping mystery, keeping your cards close to your chest–however you want to see it. But that information is yours and shouldn’t be public.
Work on your platform. Pitch essays, build your online community, and join an organization (RWA, ITW etc). A month before your book comes out is NOT the time to build a platform. The right answer is AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. So there’s no better time than the present when you want to keep your fingers busy typing.
Most importantly…get back to the next project! No matter what you have to keep writing. Whether that book sells or not, your agent needs to know what you’re working on next–either to tell the editors or to coach you through the next steps of submitting again. The right fit is always worth waiting for.
Get used to this feeling. Publishing is about waiting. Learn how to control and manage these feelings. Develop your own strategy for coping because it’s different for everyone. Physical exercise, TV/movies, throwing yourself into your next project (always my advice!), chocolate, glass of wine/coffee–your choice!
One of the hardest things about being a creative person/writer/artist etc. is balance. When you work from home sometimes family members don’t know your boundaries. When you love your job sometimes it’s hard to stop working when your desk is always in the other room. Tell me in the comments what the hardest part of the “creative juggling balance” is for you.
Tips for Juggling Your Creative Life
Give yourself a schedule. I always advise writers to treat writing like a job if they want it to be a career. If you want it to be a hobby (and in that case, an agent might not be right for you at this time) then you can treat it like a hobby. But the only way to get writing done is to do it.
But remember to define your work day by what feels right–beginnings and endings don’t always start at 9 and end at 5. In fact, it’s nearly impossibly to write that long every day.
So, what is your word count goal? 1000 words? If it’s done in 1 hour or 5 hours you can pat yourself on the back.
Have a defined space that your family and friends are aware of. Laptops are great for being able to pick up and go to the coffee shop, but they make it challenging for your family to understand the divide if you type from your lap in the living room. Try a desktop if you’re having trouble setting physical limits.
Remember: your book should always be your #1 priority if you’re writing fiction. Blogging and social media aren’t going to write your novel for you. (Non fiction writers, platform is equally important so you stick to that community building!)
Do yourself and favor and read BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her point of view on creativity and inspirational guidance is unparalleled and you won’t regret it. Even better: listen to her MAGIC LESSONS podcast too!
A book can be written in 10 years or in 1 month. It’s all about the time you give and that’s up to you. Remember that everyone is busy. Every. Single. Person. How do writers get books written? They simply make time and write. Sacrifices will be made and it’s up to you which those are–but in order to make a career of this priority has to be given to the craft.
Do you feel guilty when you work on your writing because you could be doing other things for your family/friends? Don’t. Your family and friends want you to be happy and they want to spend time with you when you’re at your best–which means: when you are living a fulfilled life creatively. If you are in your best place you’ll be more fun to hang out with anyway. (Resentment never looks good on anyone. It can build fast and take years to chip away.)
Don’t forget: Tell me in the comments what the hardest part of the “creative juggling balance” is for you.
When to rewrite your query and when to revise your manuscript
Why agents send form rejections and why they send personalized rejections-and what the difference is
Winning formulas for your premise, hook and query letter
Why your pitch should focus on plot, not theme
The truth about how agents process queries
How to think like an agent who is reading their slush pile
ABOUT THE WEBINAR
Writers are tired of all those rejection letters piling up in their inbox. Some writers are confused about what they mean and how to learn from them. Agents don’t love sending rejections; in fact, it’s agents’ least favorite part of the job. Agents send them for many reasons like writers not following guidelines or targeting the right agents, or perhaps an agent really does like a pitch, but they don’t love it. Everyone can see that’s a broad spectrum. So how do writers know where they fall into it? Believe it or not, those form rejections hold the secret to writers’ success-they just don’t know it yet.
This live webinar will change the way attendees think about the polite passes they get from agents. P.S. Literary VP and Senior Agent Carly Watters will teach writers how to deconstruct rejections, interpret unknown patterns, provide attendees with winning pitching formulas, and empower writers to find their success within the querying system.
Agents actually love the slush pile because it’s where they find most of their debut clients. Carly will show attendees how to stand out in the slush pile and reduce the number of rejections received through simple and straightforward techniques they’ll wish they had before they began submitting. Carly has proudly found 95% of her fiction authors in the slush pile and she’ll share the patterns of success that helped land those writers with her.
It’s never too late to have a winning writing career. Those rejections aren’t the end. All it takes is one yes. And Carly will help you get closer to yes.
Let me quickly say: I don’t believe any writer should be following trends. That’s not what this post is about. However, I do believe that writers who want to get published traditionally need to have their eyes open to what the market is doing.
Why You Don’t Follow Trends
Trends are something that no one can predict–especially when they end and you don’t want to be on the tail end of something when the booksellers are no longer stocking that “thing.”
Trends are established years before anyone knows about them. With the year(s) of writing, contract negotiation, and production, by the time a book comes out it’s either starting a trend or with a trend that you have no idea about until it’s on the market. Therefore, trends are started 2 years prior.
Following a trend is a quick way to date yourself and risk unoriginality.
Agents aren’t looking for trend followers; we’re looking for writers who have something unique to say about the world, even if that type/genre of story has been done before (romance, historical etc).
Why You Follow The Market
To me, follow the market means reading industry news sites, going to the bookstore a lot, talking to librarians and booksellers, and/or joining a book club. Plus, reading a ton!
Write for the market means to have your eyes and ears open to what’s selling and what people want to read. Do your own market research as I mentioned above.
The market is the group of people that would potentially buy your book. Do you know who they are?
The marketplace is where your book is sold. Do you know which books are being chosen as “staff picks” and “recommended reads”?
Why You Still Write For You
If you write for trends, are you really writing for you? Is being a follower going to be the thing that gets you up in the morning? Is chasing something the right way to hone your craft?
Usually, most writers I know, get excited when they’re doing something special to them. Something that’s unique to them.
At the end of the day, the special books are the ones that stand out in the market and start trends. The books that are well-crafted and speak to people like few books do. So, the bottom line is that you have to write for you because you have to work on that craft. You can’t move readers until you’ve understood how to exercise your talent.