Thank you everyone who emailed and commented on what they’ve done during the submission process. It’s been a tremendous learning experience for me just gaining perspective from people who’ve been there and are there now.
The single biggest agreement about the submission process, regardless of whether it’s for editors or agents, is the waiting. For unpublished writers, the wait can be months if not longer. I had a rejection from an agency a year and a half after I’d submitted to them but I adhere to the 90 day rule. If I hadn’t heard from an agent after about 3 months, I assumed there was no interest. The fun part about email queries is that you don’t necessarily get a response. Agents Janet Reid and Jessica Faust have both commented on their blogs how nasty exchanges get sometimes can get when an email rejection is sent. As a result, many agents simply don’t respond, which leaves the budding writer in a near constant limbo.
The next hardest part about submitted, again which there is wide agreement on, is the rejections that come. Either through silence or a ‘it’s just not right for me’ blanket rejections offer little incentive to the writer to keep going. As the writer progresses, however, usually rejections may get a little more informative and sometimes, the best answers are rejections with suggestions for improvements as well as an invitation to resubmit. Those rejections give the unpublished writer the opportunity to revisit the manuscript with comments in mind for specific issues and ultimately, can help the writer grow, both professionally and as a writer.
For many writers, the ultimate challenge is what to do during the wait. Many mentioned working on the next process because for a writer, there is always work to be done. Either copy edits, galleys, proofs or simply starting the next book. Keeping busy is a way to keep from obsessively waiting for the phone to ring or the inbox to chime, plus it helps advance your career as well.
Choosing writing as a career is not for the faint hearted. I truly thought in December 2007 when I’d written the end that I’d created a masterpiece. Said ‘masterpiece’ is in the trash now, though the heart of that idea has been completely rewritten. Stay busy, stay after it, and above all, keep writing. It only takes one yes to move you from hobby to professional.