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!
Q: What do you YOU do while you wait?
To all you aspiring authors out there doing research about what’s in your future: this post is for you.
It’s hard to know what your traditional publishing path is going to look like until you’re in it. Lucky for you, three of my wonderful authors (with books coming out this summer) share their wisdom about what the publishing process has been like for them. Read on for the specifics about patience, publicity and more…
From Rebecca Phillips, author of forthcoming FAKING PERFECT (Kensington Teen 2015)
I didn’t anticipate the incredible amount of time and detail involved in traditional publishing. You have all these different people working with you to make your book the best it can be. It takes a long time, and you need a lot of patience, but it’s an amazing experience overall.
From Karen Katchur, author of forthcoming THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD (St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Books 2015)
The biggest thing I learned was that copy edits can really mess with your voice. They need to be reviewed carefully and can be almost as hard as content edits. Even the simplest change in verb tense can change the reader’s experience and it may not be for the better. But, (and this is a very big but!), if you’re going to break the grammar rules, you better know why you’re breaking them and your reasons for breaking them better be good.
From Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of forthcoming MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE (Atria 2015), FOREVER, INTERRUPTED and AFTER I DO
The biggest thing that surprised me is how much work goes into publicizing your own book. Writing the novel is only half of your job — making sure people hear about it is the other half.
The other thing I didn’t realize is just how many wonderful friends I’d make. I always thought of being an author as a sort of solitary job but I’ve met some of the most interesting and sincere people through my work. Whether it’s getting to know other authors, meeting interesting agents and editors, or hearing from readers, being an active part of the book community is definitely one of the best perks of the job.
Many writers think their day job is getting in the way of their writing and count down the days until they can quit because that big book deal is on the way, right? Wrong, for now.
(I should preface this with: Some writers have the luxury of external support, have modified or flexible work schedules that allows them to time to dedicate to their creative projects. Day job or not doesn’t make you more or less of a writer.)
I’m a fan of suggesting writers keep a job, volunteer, or engage in other intensive hobbies for the following reasons….
Keeping your day job has many benefits:
- Inspiration via interactions with people other than your family and settings other than your immediate location.
- Steady income that you can rely on.
- Routine–it’s never a bad thing to have some structure in your life. Even if that means knowing you can only squeeze in a hour or two of writing every other day.
When you quit your day job you have to get your inspiration from sitting at your writing desk all day, your income will come in crazy spurts and there will be many lows, and you suddenly have no routine and the norm becomes sleeping in and working in your PJs all day.
I’m a big proponent, if you can, to keep your day job for as long as you can. Once your writing income surpasses your day job income and you have a multi-book contract where you can plan out your income for months and years to come then it’s time to think about whether you need that day job. And many writers still keep theirs.
Getting paid in traditional publishing looks like this:
- Getting your advance paid in thirds (or fourths!): part on signing, part on delivery and acceptance of the manuscript and part on publication (and sometimes 3-12 months after publication). That money, on average, is divided up over the course of 1-3 years. Plus, your agent or lawyer gets some too.
- Twice yearly royalty statements, but only once you’ve earned out that advance. Royalties go towards earning back the money paid out in advance. So sometimes books earn out and you see that money in a year or two, but sometimes they never earn out. It’s not something you can plan on unless you have a royalty-only publishing deal.
- Foreign publishers, if you’re lucky enough to get some translation deals, don’t pay quickly. If you get a deal in Italy or Greece you’ll get paid, on average, 8-12 months later then you’re supposed to. Foreign money is always “bonus money.”
My experience with debut authors is that sometimes when they quit their day job before getting published their books start to be about the idiosyncrasy of daily life with their kids or their spouse/partner. When what we need is big idea debuts that are about more than the mundane things of daily life.
Q: Do you look forward to being able to write full-time?
A: It’s possible. But it’s a lot of hard work and you have to have the right people in your corner.
Here’s how you can make writing a career:
1. The Right Team
You need the right people around you to make it work. You need an agent that you trust and connect with. And your agent needs a team that can support you: contracts expert, sub rights manager, film and TV agent, publicity contacts, editorial contacts and much more. You are not alone when you have an agent that is well connected, has their finger on the pulse of your career and is aware of what’s going on in the industry.
2. Sub Rights
This is the #1 way that authors can make writing a full-time job. Sub rights include selling film and TV rights, audio rights, dramatic rights, translation and foreign rights, and many more. When you have multiple books earning money from multiple sources in multiple countries you are on the road to financial sustainability. One good advance isn’t enough; making money year after year is based on revenue earned in sub rights and royalties. The more hands you have pots in the bigger your success will be.
3. Understanding the business
When writers start out in the business they shy away from asking questions that they really should. Continue reading Q: Can I Write Fiction For A Living?