Lorna Hollifield On Processing Feedback

If there's one thing that many aspiring writers have few clues about, it's the submission process. There are good reasons for that; authors aren't exactly encouraged to talk in detail about our own submission experiences, and - just like agent hunting - everyone's story is different. I managed to cobble together a few non-specific questions that some debut authors have agreed to
answer (bless them). And so I bring you the submission interview series - Submission Hell - It's True. Yes, it's the SHIT.

Today's guest for the SHIT is Lorna Hollifield, who began her professional writing journey as a tourism and travel blogger, before finally deciding to pursue her dream of publishing fiction. Her first novel, Tobacco Sun, released June 13th from Pen Name Publishing.

How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?

Umm. Nothing. I had this finished manuscript, with no idea how to get it published. I learned quickly though, because I was hungry to get it done. I started reading articles, researching how my favorite authors did it, and reading books on the process. I did a lot of research, but still made it a priority not to get lost in the planning stage.

Did anything about the process surprise you?

The rejection. I mean, I knew I would get it. I knew it would sting and I knew it was normal. But it still sucked. But, silver lining - I was just as surprised when I got the YES! That was the best feeling in the world!

What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?

The average agent might not even respond if they aren’t interested. However, the more professional ones will at least send a form letter out in about 6-8 weeks. Some are quicker, some are slower. I’ve noticed the ones that are interested tend to respond after a couple weeks, but that’s just my experience.

What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?

For me it helped to feel like I was always moving forward. I would busy myself with going to conferences, writing groups, book signings, events, ANYTHING where I might meet someone who could get me close to my goal. I’m most anxious if I’m still too long.

If you had any rejections, how did that feel emotionally?  How did that compare with query rejections?

Query rejections hurt, but become common pretty fast. The worst is when you start actually working with an agent or editor, and something falls apart. It’s like you are about to get married, you’ve already said the vows, and right before “I do,” he calls the whole thing off. When that happens I take the advice my mother gave me: “You can cry for a day. Feel sorry for yourself, stay in your pajamas. But you only get a day. Then you clean up, put a smile on your face, and try again.”

If you got feedback on a rejection, how did you process it?  How do you compare processing an editor’s feedback to a beta’s feedback?

I take an editor’s feedback very seriously because they know the business. I would only revolt against it if it were just completely horrifying creative differences that changed the work. With beta readers, I tend to take everything with a grain of salt. However, if everyone says the same thing, it’s definitely worth looking into. One or two people can be wrong. But usually 10 in agreement are onto something.

When you got your YES, how did that feel?  How did you find out?  Email?  Telephone?  Smoke signal?

Haha! It was amazing. I was crying so hard that my husband thought someone had died. I couldn’t speak to tell him they were tears of joy. I received an email expressing their desire to pick up the novel. It was 10 days after I submitted, and they were so excited about the project. It made everything worth it!

Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult

Yes, and yes. I shared it with my closest friends and family because I couldn’t hold it in. But I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! I was finally able to let the cat out of the bag after about a month and it was thrilling. I was blessed to have a lot of people rooting for me!