On Submission with Elsie Chapman

Today's guest for the SHIT (Submission Hell - It's True) is fellow Friday the Thirteener Elsie Chapman, author of DUALED (Feb. 26, 2013 / Random House) featuring West Grayer, a fifteen year old assassin who lives in a gated city where everyone has a double, a virtual twin, an Alternate. Within this oasis of safety from the wars without, where there is limited space and even less resources, only one Alt is allowed to survive. When it’s time to kill her own Alt before her Alt kills her, West has to face the hardest Assignment of all–herself.


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

Enough to know I was signing up for some serious torture. I spent a lot of time online and on Absolute Write just reading and researching and learning from others’ experiences. Especially those who ended up not selling. I think, deep down, I was trying to prepare myself for that very real possibility.

Did anything about the process surprise you?

The very real emotional whipping you go through. Not that it’s ever a personal rejection—only of that particular work, at that particular time, with that particular editor. Having read so much about that, you think you’re set to go, that you can handle it. But it doesn’t make it easier. You don’t really have a choice but to develop a super thick skin and realize it’s just one more part of it.

Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?

I did do some research, actually. Just a quick google to see what else they’d acquired in the past, or what they were currently looking for. I don’t know if I’d recommend it, to be honest. At that point, your book is completely out of your hands. An online search will either drive you nuts with worry or give you an inflated sense of hope. At the same time, I think it’s almost impossible not to look them up. I guess it come down to knowing yourself and what you can deal with.

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

It varied from a few days to a few weeks.

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

I think you’ll get the same answer from every writer because it’s absolutely true: start writing something else. You need to just immerse yourself in something brand new and get your mind off what is no longer under your control. It’s good incentive to just keep at it.

If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?

Rejections are tough, but at the same time, they help you build that thick skin. That’s the only way you can really look at it and be able to bounce back. They differ from query rejections because they can mean the end of the line for your book with a certain editor or house. It means maybe coming so very close but falling just short. It can be incredibly disheartening.

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

Feedback is the one bright side to rejection. And coming from an editor’s perspective, it can mean the difference between your book selling or not selling. But reactions are also very subjective, so I’d talk everything over with my agent before deciding how to approach any suggestions. In terms of beta readers, I’ve never used one before. Eeps. `

When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?

It was the most amazing feeling in the world! I don’t think I stopped grinning all day! I’m on the west coast, so I got an email from my agent one morning to wake up and call him right away. I knew things had been in the works, so I was pretty sure it was good news. He told me over the phone, and it was an absolutely fantastic moment! Then I had to go make breakfast for the kids before they went to school, just like any morning. Except I was also going to be a published author, so it really was a crazy, surreal day.

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

I waited until I got the okay from my agent, and that was it. I think it was just a matter of days. I was so happy I didn’t have to wait any longer than that. I kept running up to my husband and just poking and squealing at him, so he was probably going a bit insane.