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 Laura Taylor Namey, author of The Library of Lost Things.
How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?
Having a few published friends and attending publisher breakout sessions at conferences, I knew a fair amount. I mainly knew to prepare myself for what could be a long wait and that no two authors have the same sub experience. Hmm, that sounds like pregnancy to me…
Did anything about the process surprise you?
Not really, and I think that was due to my own research. Before I even had my agent, I’d listened to editors speak about submissions and the long process each book must go through from first read to an offer.
Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?
I did basic research on many of them just to put a face to a name. I recommend doing that only if it’s something you feel will ease your experience, not add further anxiety.
What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?
I’d say the average time was 2-3 weeks. Some read and responded within days, and others only did after I received an offer. I got my offer around three months into sub.
What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?
I want to shout this from mountaintops and tattoo it on my forehead: the best way to deal with subbing one project is to be heavily invested in, and well into, a draft of another project. The second I began querying agents for book one (which sold,) I began drafting book two. I got an agent offer, paused my drafting to briefly revise book one, then dove back into book two during my sub process. I finished that book while on sub and was (and still am) so passionate about that story, I would’ve totally been at peace if book one hadn’t end up selling. Book two preserved my sanity and kept my eyes and momentum moving forward.
If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?
Rejections are a huge aspect of doing this thing we love called writing. I found sub rejections much more detailed than query rejections and actually quite kind and/or encouraging. Many editors who said my story wasn’t quite right for them still complimented my voice or characters or other aspects. While rejections are never easy, they do not have to be devastating. We can always move forward, adjust, and adjust again. It’s part of publishing.
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?
I carefully considered each rejection and tried to weigh them together to see if many editors were passing for one clear reason or common thread (they weren’t with this book. My rejections were mainly subjective.) There is one comment I received that resonated so much, I am going to address it in my current revision.
But, say, if ten editors pass for world building issues, it’s time to pull your story from sub and address the world building. This is where sub/rejections can help you make a better story to go out with in later rounds.
Beta reader’s feedback is posed as: here is where I am stumbling in your story, and here is where you should fix it. I feel betas read more like bookstore readers. Or, some of mine are sensitivity readers and I have them read for specific issues to help the authenticity of topics in the narrative.
Editors read with a different scope, an eye on sales and craft and marketing, and how the book would sit on their list.
When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?
My husband calls the day I received my deal my ‘tiara day.’ We were in the airport on our way to Italy, after receiving a big upgrade. So, it was already a great day. Then my agent sent me a text about twenty minutes before I had to board a twelve-hour flight. I had champagne on the plane and kept saying, “Is this my life?” I’ll never forget it.
Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?
Most authors have to wait––it’s part of the process. My wait wasn’t too long and one of my agency siblings actually saw my deal listed in Publisher’s Marketplace before I knew it was even public. I felt so grateful for my incredible offer, I wanted to share it with everyone, so even a small wait felt like eternity. The day my deal was announced, I was able to join my 2019 YA debut group, which has been fabulous.