March 3, 2011

After The Call: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Submissions

"After the Call" is a new feature on my blog! It chronicles what happens after an agent offers you representation: how to choose the right agent, how to communicate with your new agent, what the revision process is like, etc. For previous posts in this series, please see the "After The Call" sidebar to the right.

Recently, a good friend of mine went on submission and we've been emailing back and forth about the insane emotions that you get once your book goes out on sub. It's nerve-wracking! It's exciting! It's nerve-exciting!

I've spoken to a few people who have been on submission and it seems like all of them have experienced a similar emotional roller coaster. One minute you think you're going to be the next J.K. Rowling or John Green or Neil Gaiman. The next minute you think you're the worst writer in the entire world. What fun it is!

And so, BEHOLD! I give you the five emotions you shall inevitably experience once your book is launched into the great world of submission:

1.) Sheer Elation
Your agent sends you the email you've been itching to receive: your book is ready to go on sub! This is when sheer elation sets in. You're going to be published! You're going to sell your book! You don't have to work on revisions anymore!

Grab your friends and your family and go celebrate! After all, you've probably been working on this book for months or even years. (I fall into this latter group. It took me 2.5 years to draft my first book and get it shiny for submission. I'm so slow!) Enjoy yourself before the next set of emotions come rolling in...

2.) Nervousness, Anxiety, with a dash of Excitement
The nail-biting begins. The sheer elation phase doesn't last long---maybe a few days, maybe a week. This is because most agents will tell you that you're ready to go on submission but then they'll need a few days to get a submission list in order. During those short pre-submission days, you will be on Cloud Nine. But once you're actually on sub? That's when the nervousness sets in.

You'll check your email every second.
You'll stare listlessly at your phone. 
You'll pray. If you are an Atheist, you will still pray.

But within this turmoil of anxiety, you'll still be excited too. And you should be! You've worked so hard and for so long---an editor could be reading your book RIGHT NOW and loving it! But wait, what if she finishes it and doesn't love it anymore? Damn it. You should have revised more!

See? Emotional roller coaster, I tell you!

3.) Depression
It has been three weeks since you went on submission but nary a word from your agent. Shouldn't those editors be knocking down your door at this point? Is there a massive power outage in New York City? That must be it! No, no, that isn't it. Nobody likes your book. Not even your cat likes your book. *Insert crying*

Hey, this is all part of the process! Depression, feelings of failure...it happens to all of us. Just try not to wallow in this stage for too long. Go on a walk. Take up a new hobby. Start a new book. The point is: keep busy. Being on submission can be a long process so you need to put on your Patience Hat and hunker down.

4a.) Resignation
At this point, two months have gone by and the rejections have started to roll in. You're not depressed. You're simply...resigned. The economy is bad, you tell yourself. It's a hard market. After awhile, the rejections roll of your back like raindrops. You wonder when you developed such thick skin. But it's okay. You work on your next project like a fiend and you still hold out hope that maybe---just maybe---an editor will fall in love with your work.

But you're not holding your breath or anything.

4b.) Sheer Elation Once More!
Your phone buzzes. It's a 212 number. Your agent is on the line with great news: an editor LOVES your book and has offered to buy it! You jump. You scream. You do the moonwalk, even though you have no rhythm. The world is a wonderful place!

5.) Rinse. Repeat.
You think getting a book deal will make your life perfect? Ha! Now, you have to start another round of revisions, finish line edits, and plan out your marketing campaign. Cue the anxiety phase!

:o)

This is what I've learned about the crazy writing process in the past year: writing truly is an emotional roller coaster. Whether you have an agent or not, whether you have a book deal or not, the same feelings are always there. Excitement. Nervousness. Depression. Elation. It's a never-ending cycle, even if you're a NYT Bestselling Author.

So my advice? Enjoy it! Take the good with the bad. And when the bad stuff does come along, just shrug your shoulders and remember that it's all part of the crazy writing roller coaster.

If you have been on submission, what has your experience been like?

8 comments:

  1. Lol, you've nailed this process to a T. I've only been on sub for a few weeks, but I'm constantly checking my email--even more so than when I was waiting to hear back from agents! :)

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  2. I haven't been on submission, but it sure sounds a lot like querying. :)

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  3. Spot on. This is exactly how I feel.
    Like you said, submission is a harder wait than querying.

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  4. Never been on sub, but I get what you're saying. The key is to push through and keep that chin up.

    By the way, nerve-exciting? My new favorite word :)

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  5. Whether you are a new writer or a seasoned, published veteran, the emotional roller coaster ride never seems to end. Highs, lows and everything in between. Thank goodness for writer friends who can help keep you sane! :)

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  6. Another fascinating post. I'm still at the revisions stage so I've got all this to come!

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  7. Pam, best of luck on submission! Fingers crossed I'll hear about your deal soon!

    Janet, haha, you're absolutely right! Being on sub is a LOT like querying, especially the crazy emotions.

    Ian, agreed! What's scary about being on sub is that the number of editors you can sub to is so much smaller than the number of agents you can query. Makes for a more nail-biting process!

    Amparo, yay! You like my made-up word! I feel kinda cool now. :)

    Erin, indeed! I'm so glad to have made some awesome writerly friends who talk me down from ledges. Like you. :)

    Kate, best of luck once you go out on sub! And best of luck on your revisions!

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  8. Only been on sub ONE DAY :) I think having a day job helps!

    Caroline, I love your After the Call series!

    Good luck on sub!

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