by Raelene Gorlinsky
On Tuesday I listed the steps for getting your submission ready and sending it in. So, what do you do after that? (Besides chewing your fingernails to the quick, having long emotional phone conversations with all your author friends, and collecting up all your good luck charms, that is.)
Step 4: Be patient
Response times are often longer than stated. If you haven't heard back right away, at least you know it wasn’t rejected at first glance.
Do not call or email the editor/agent a week later and ask if they've read it yet. Check their website for the average response time, and wait that long to inquire.
Step 5: Responses - Reject, Revise, or Accept
Reject: This is what happens to 96 - 98% of unsolicited romance fiction submissions. Don’t argue, it is pointless. Do not write a nasty note back! A thank you note (brief, professional) is not necessary but is a nice touch. You may want to submit something else there in future. Don’t burn your bridges.
Yes, it's discouraging and disheartening. Take a day or a few days to cry and mope and eat chocolate. Then send that submission out to another place. And get to work on your next book!
Face reality. Publishers are companies, they have to turn a profit. They determine what is selling in their market and offer readers what they want to buy. The book of your heart may be something that does not tug at sufficient other hearts.
Revise and Resubmit: It's not too common, but sometimes an editor will indicate they are willing to look at the story again if you make certain changes. Yes, it’s a rejection, but the door is still open. The editor took a lot of time to analyze your story and explain what needs to be revised—so she must see a good bit of potential in it.
Really think about the advice. If you don’t agree, or it doesn’t match what you feel for your story, you don’t need to take it; try submitting elsewhere. But if you keep getting similar advice…
Accept: Joy and celebration! Ask lots of questions early. Find out the process, the timeline; develop realistic expectations. This is your chance to be a “newbie”, your editor will be more tolerant now than later. Be friendly with your editor, but keep it professional, not personal.
Be professional and realistic in contract negotiations. Be responsible for understanding all the ramifications of your contract.
If you have contract questions, it's worth paying for an hour of time from an experienced literary agent or literary attorney to go over the contract with you. Do not consult a lawyer who is not experienced in the publishing industry—forget about the nice woman who drew up your will, or your brother-in-law the divorce attorney. The advice you get will not be useful, and will only make you look inexperienced and cause aggravation to your publisher. Use an experienced literary attorney.
Don’t take the attitude that a publisher will be trying to trick or cheat you. If you think that about them, why did you submit there in the first place? Start with the belief that the publisher is looking out for your joint best interests. They only make money if your book sells well. I’ve heard authors claim that a publisher tried to harm them by purposely giving them a bad cover, or delaying the release of their book, or other nonsense. Why would we want to reduce sales, and therefore our profit, by doing that?
Find out how to handle future story submissions. You want to be multi-published!
Step 6: Get published.
Meet your deadlines. Be reasonable and cooperative about revisions. Don’t turn into a prima donna. Remember that your editor has a lot of other books and authors to handle.
Your editor is your coworker, not your mother or your psychiatrist or your best friend.
Not all stories that get bought, get published. There are bumps on the publishing track, and some of those could derail your book. They may be out of your control, and this can be very frustrating. Keep aware of what is going on at your publishing house and in the industry as a whole; network with fellow authors.
And be sure to celebrate your accomplishment—by turning in your next book for publication!