Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When Not to Hit Send

by Meghan Conrad

The other day, Raelene was talking about Self-Rejection by Non-Submission--reasons authors don't submit their work, and why they should.

Today I'm going to look at the other side of that story--reasons you shouldn't submit your work, at least not yet.

1. You're really writing this story for yourself.
Raelene mentioned this in her point five--some people just love to write and don't have any desire to get published. There's nothing wrong with this, and if you fall into this category, not submitting is a perfectly okay thing to do. You can enjoy playing piano without wanting to be a concert pianist--writing's no different.

2. You're done writing, not revising.
Just because the book has a beginning, middle and end doesn't mean that it's done. Have you read the book? Have you set it aside for a month, then picked it up and reread it? Have your crit partners read it, and have you addressed (or at least considered) their criticisms? If you're not saying yes to all of those questions, you're not ready to submit.

3. You think the story is perfect.
I know, I know--I just told you to finish revising before you submit, but this is different. If you're not able to look at your book and admit to yourself that there are things that could make it better, even if you don't yet know what those things are, you're not ready to submit. We think that your baby's lovely--and it would be even lovelier if we were to edit its face just a little.

4. You don't have enough time to commit to the process.
Getting published isn't easy, and that doesn't change once you've signed a contract. First there's researching companies and submitting to them. Then if you're lucky enough to have your book signed, there's edits, more edits, promoting your book, more edits... If you're in your last year of grad school, are six months pregnant, have four children under three, work full time, and are moving across the country in two months, maybe you should consider waiting until your life settles down before submitting.

5. You're not prepared to be rejected.
It takes a fairly thick skin to be rejected over and over--and let's face it, most people are rejected over and over--and not let it destroy you. If you can't handle gentle comments from crit partners or you feel like being rejected might put you off writing altogether, consider that maybe you're not yet psychologically ready to go through the potentially grueling submission process.

There are plenty of really fantastic reasons to submit you work, but when you do submit, make sure you're ready to really go for it. Publishers will still be buying books next year, and for a long time after that. There's no shame in waiting.

1 comment:

Laurann Dohner said...

I'm really glad you wrote this post, Meghan. It made me feel better reading it. You see, I started writing in 1993. Long story short - tons of family stuff, jobs, or health issues (my own, family members, and my son's - I'm the family care person) took up a majority of my life. I managed to write 54 novels in my spare time. It wasn't that I didn't want to try to get published but I take writing seriously. I knew when I went for it, I needed to be able to commit to it seriously. In 2009 I put my last child into school which freed up my days. I had time to write, to put in the long hours, and I chased after the dream. LOL.

I have gotten a lot of grief when I admit I wrote that many books but didn't try to get published in those years. #4 in your post covers why I waited. Thank you.