“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” – Stephen King, On Writing
January 1, 2015: I wish I could say it was easy. That I hit that Submit button on Submittable with confidence. That I didn’t bat an eyelid when my manuscript whooshed off into cyberspace, invading some poor soul’s inbox. But that’s not entirely the way it went down. Instead, I sat at my cluttered kitchen table- (my very formal office space reserved for composing) – and cringed, certain I would rue the day I put my work out there.
It’s a painful thing for us writers. Placing something we’ve spent months creating, editing and refining into a stranger’s hands in hopes that it won’t be tossed back. But it’s the path to traditional publishing. A path I chose to take in pursuit of publication.
So, I put on my big girl panties and did it. I hit Submit and began waiting. Without experience. Without an agent. And without a clue of what was to come…
How long does it take to hear back?
One year. Six months. Twelve weeks.
It doesn’t matter who you ask, which blogs you scrutinize or how many times you hit refresh on Submittable. There is no definitive answer to that question other than, It depends.
It depends on which publisher you queried. On whether or not your manuscript was requested or unsolicited. On how high the slush pile is. On how busy the editors are. And so on.
I bit off my nails. Tore into every email. Jumped each time the phone rang. Floated to extreme giddiness and plunged into despair on a daily basis. And, finally, came to the conclusion that the only way to stay sane is to forget about it. Move on to the next project. Dig deep into a new WIP and hope for the best.
I was incredibly lucky.
My Wait: 6 1/2 months
July 17, 2015: I got The Call and a three book deal with Harlequin American Romance! (And promptly went into terrified shock.) What had I gotten myself into? I wrote one solid story. Could I do it again? And again?
Terrified. That’s the only word I feel accurately describes my emotional state after being contracted. Absolutely terrified.
I was afraid of not being able to juggle my day job with the long hours of writing. Afraid of my next manuscript not being “good enough”. Of making a complete fool of myself in front of seasoned professionals. (Which, I might say, is still entirely possible…)
My fears are still there but, over time, have started to dwindle. I’ve been paired with a fantastic editor. She has a skilled eye and her feedback is straight-up. Her suggestions for revisions made the story stronger than ever. The line edits were great and the copy edits made that manuscript gleam.
November 14, 2015: After finishing AAs, I’m doing one last read through of my manuscript before submitting it for the final time. It’s bittersweet letting my first story go and knowing it has finally reached The End. But that’s the beauty of the path I chose. By the time my first book hits the shelves in May, it will have been polished by several pairs of hands. It will also be stronger than I, alone, could ever have made it.
I’m learning so much with each step of the publishing process and am so grateful for the opportunity. It’s a dream I never thought would materialize.
Published or not, though, I’d still be writing because it’s what I like to do. As Stephen King said, “Writing is about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
If you’re a writer, I wish you the best in the pursuit of your dreams. Be brave. And I hope you continue to find happiness in writing.