October 21, 2010

Querying vs. Being on Sub

So last week, the lovely Alexa Barry asked me a question on my blog and I've been ruminating over it ever since. The question at hand:

"So is being on sub worse than an agent having your full manuscript?" 

Hmm, my first response was a barking "Yes! It is, indeed! It's terrible!" But then I thought about it some more and I realized, "Well, maybe it's not worse than querying since it's such a relief to have an agent who doesn't think I'm totally weird for writing space stories...."

And then my brain feuded against itself in trying to find the right answer. 

I guess to be totally honest, being on sub is a lot like querying yet it feels different too. I know, I know! What a lame response! Nevertheless, here's a breakdown on my thought process:

  1. The anxiety. Sweaty palms. Nervous tics. Loss of appetite. Yep, that part is still the same. Both the querying and submissions process are quite nerve-killing!
  2. The rabid email checking. When I was querying my book, I always got a flutter of butterflies whenever I saw a (1) appear in my Gmail inbox. My fingers would often tingle with excitement and dread whenever I clicked on it. And yeah, being on submission is the exact same way. I check my email, like, 40 times a day. Sometimes more. No lie!
  3. The delusions of grandeur. Haha, I'm embarassed to admit this but I had total delusions of grandeur when I first started querying and then when I went on sub. Agents are going to fight for my book! Editors will offer me a six-figure deal! Fortunately, such lofty ideas are quickly quashed by the dreadful slowness of the industry. As of now, I'd be happy to sell my book for a bucket of fried chicken or a $50 gift certificate to H&M. (Just kidding! It totally better be a $100 gift certificate.)

  1. Taking a back seat. This the biggest difference, I think. During my querying process, I was constantly checking various writers' forums for information on MG agents and I was constantly tweaking my query letter. I poured a lot of sweat into that venture! But now that I'm on sub, I've taken a back seat and let Jim take over. He's the one who put the submissions list together. He's the one checking up on the editors. And he's the one who receives all of the rejections first. It's kind of nice really! Although I'm a control freak, I'm more than happy to let Jim undertake this whole sub thing.
  2. The numbers go down. Okay, this is probably the worst part on being on sub. I imagine there are around 30 editors who Jim can submit my book to. (That's a complete ballpark figure.) Yipes! When I was querying, I found over 100 agents who I planned on contacting. So...100+ vs. 30. My odds aren't looking as good as before.
  3. It's a relief...in a way. Sometimes my heart clenches tight in my chest because I'm afraid my little book will never see the light of day. I've worked on this novel for three years and I love it and I can't even think about shelving it. And yet, I take comfort in knowing that I have an agent who's super supportive and who won't drop me if my book doesn't sell. Having Jim on my side...it's wonderful! Even if things don't go as I hope, my book helped me to find a great agent and I'm really, really grateful for that. 
So there you have it! 

For those of you in the query trenches, what is your least favorite part about the process? For those of you on sub, what are some of the similarities and differences you have noticed?


  1. *hugs you until your eyes bulge* Hang in there!!

    You're uber-lucky to have a fantastic agent and a kickass story (am I allowed to say kickass in reference to a MG novel????). Needless to say, it'll happen. Word.

    I'm not in any trenches at the moment, but I hope to be one day. *wistful sigh*

    Best of luck!!

  2. Hang in there!

    I'm also writing MG (Scribble on the BBs), and just signed with an agent. I've only just left Queryland, and started edits before Sub. So I can't compare yet the two experiences yet, but soon!

    All my fingers crossed for you, Caroline. I the biggest game changer between Query and Sub has to be that you have an agent.
    Now you have an advocate, someone who believes in you.

    So don't cave in for anything less than a huge bucket of chicken and those vouchers!

  3. So, Cynthia Williams pointed me to this blog. I'm in the querying process for my monsterpiece and am enjoying reading another person blogging about the authoring process. I'll check in here regularly.

  4. Hey, thanks for answering :) Good to know. I think the buffer of an agent is nice and I'd totally say I didn't want to know about the rejections.

    The worst thing about querying? That flutter of hope when the email comes in