Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In Which I am the Bearer of Very Bad News

First of all, a great big HI to all of my new readers. I love you.

Okay, that was an exaggeration. I don't really know you. But I already like you very, very much, and fully anticipate loving you.

And so today, in honor of breaking 400 followers (clean in half! Each and every one of them BROKEN from reading my blog too much!), I am going to depress you out of your minds. If that isn't enough to keep you reading, I don't know what is!

(Except if you aren't a writer, this won't be even mildly depressing for you. So, non-writer-readers, your job is to lurk in the comments and offer kleenexes or, in very bad cases, Dr Pepper and chocolate. And if any of you are licensed doctors or psychiatrists, well, feel free to prescribe some mild virtual pick-me-ups. Heaven knows we'll need them.)

Ready? Okay. Most aspiring writers can't think much past getting an agent. That's the goal. That's the finish line. Once you have an agent, things are easier. And really, getting an agent is awesome. Freaking awesome. Like, wow, incredibly awesome. So awesome the word awesome will begin to lose its meaning it will be so awesomely awesome in your life. But here's where things get tricky.

I'm going to let you in on a secret, one that agented writers can't admit publicly for fear of shooting themselves in the foot, and one that writers with book deals don't talk about because we've completely blocked it out of our minds due to severe psychological trauma. It's this:

Being on submission sucks.

Sucks, sucks, sucks sucks sucks sucks SUCKS.

It bears repeating one more time, I think.

SUCKS.

(Being on submission, or going out on sub, for the uninitiated, is when your very talented and incredibly brilliant agent takes your manuscript from your trembling hands and sends it on its merry, hopeful way to editors. All agents go about this differently, but the end goal is for one or more editors to offer to buy it.)

I'm uniquely qualified to talk about this because I went on submission not once, but twice. And one of those times was a spectacular failure. But that's wrong, really, because it makes it sound exciting. No, one of those times was a soul-sucking, grind-you-down-until-you-can't-remember-why-you-ever-thought-you-were-a-decent-writer-in-the-first-place, oh-please-for-the-love-of-any-remaining-sanity-let's-just-forget-the-whole-thing failure.

But that's not the whole picture. That first day, when you know your precious book baby is going out to editors at houses you've only dreamed of, you get this giddy, fluttery, oh my goodness this could actually happen feeling. You're high on it. It's real. An editor could be reading it RIGHT NOW. And it's going to sell! And you'll be an author! Finally, finally, validation for all of that time you spent acting like a crazy person!

That feelings lasts approximately 1.4 days.

So it's a good thing that writers as a whole are very calm, rational people. It's not like writers are emotional, introverted people, who channel their thoughts and feelings into creative outlets which are then read and judged by other people. It's not like we're already perhaps a bit odd, living in our own heads as much or more than we live outside of them, spinning out fantasies and stories and becoming so attached to them we make ourselves cry when we read the last lines. (Not that I, uh, did that today or anything.)

No, it's a good thing writers are sane.

Otherwise after that first day you'd start panicking. Checking your email obsessively. Google stalking any editors you know have your stuff. Wondering how long, exactly, it would take to read, assuming an editor started reading right away. But that's okay. It hasn't been long yet.

And then a week goes by. You've heard of book deals happening in a week. And rationally you understand the process, that even if an editor likes it he or she can't usually make an instant offer, but rather has to pass it off to others to read, present it at an editorial meeting, get more people on the "buy the book!" bandwagon.

But let's face it. Rationality went out the door the minute you decided to pursue publication. If you were rational you'd have a sane hobby, like knitting. Or an aspiration that wasn't entirely dependent on other people, like getting a Master's Degree, or becoming the world's best Arnold Schwarzenegger Impressionist. Or even just learning how to spell Schwarzenegger. But you chose writing, so rationality is not a factor here.

And when, like in my case, you get rejections, it hurts. It physically hurts to have an editor vaguely point out flaws, or pass based on something unalterable about the book, or like it but just not love it. And what hurts even more is the terror that every other editor will feel the same--mediocre, meh, fine but not for them. And what hurts even more is the hope that maybe one will still love it.

After four months of this, you are so worn down you question why you started writing in the first place. You question why you want to be published so badly. You worry that your agent will feel the same way--disappointed and questioning your talent. And if, at the end of those four months, you and your agent decide to pull the submission, you wonder why it didn't happen.

Because it should have. Right?

Now, this submission story was unique to me. And, granted, the soul-sucking aspects were compounded by infertility issues. It was like the Universe was kicking me every. single. month. And the Universe wears big, nasty, steel-toed boots with "REJECTED" stamped across the sole.

So here's my advice. And this is where it gets happier, I promise! Expect submissions to be hard. Expect to be something of an emotional wreck. But expect to succeed. And work toward this success by being smart about things. What should you do while you're on submission?

Write.

Write another book. Work on something you already had written. Get better. Have a backup plan. Because if your submission goes great and you do sell, YAY! Yay, yay, yay! Now you have an option book already in the works, which will save you stress down the line.

And if your submission fizzles for whatever reason (in my case the protags were just a little too old for YA), you have another project ready to polish and send to your agent. Because if your agent is anything like mine, and I sincerely hope she or he is, then you are still in good shape. Whatever they saw in your writing will still be there, and, regardless of how many editors passed, you still have an industry professional on your side, a partner. You aren't starting from scratch.

Going on submission that second time was terrifying. I had nightmares of repeating the same process all over again. I felt sick just thinking about it. But guess what? Within two weeks we were hearing good things--exciting things--holy crap stuff is actually happening and wait a second, submissions can be thrilling-if-still-kinda-stressful! things. And within three weeks I'd sold in a pre-empt to an incredible editor at my dream house.

So, submissions? SUCK. But what submissions get you? Beyond amazing. I don't want to discourage anyone. I just want to be honest, and let you know that submissions are hard. Even if you sell quickly without a single rejection, it's still stressful. Please find supportive writer friends who are crazy, too, and will understand what you are going through. (Carrie Harris will always be my submissions sister.) Write the best possible book you can, and then let it go. In the end, your book will sell or it won't, and there's nothing you can do about it. Which is both the hardest and the most comforting thing of all.

I hope that you find your dream agent, that you never experience a failed submission, that you and your dream editor match up painlessly and immediately. But, just in case, I'll leave you with this sage advice: If at first you don't succeed, do everything you can not to have a nervous breakdown, polish another book, send that one out, and get a dream-come-true three-book-deal.

In fact, I think I'm going to have that embroidered on a pillow.

105 comments:

Disgruntled Bear said...

I'm still querying agents, which is horrible enough.

Thanks for letting me know that the horror doesn't end there.

pauling said...

I think the roller coaster ride of being a writer never ends. It's always nice to know, we're not alone! Laura

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

Kind of a side note: I thought I read somewhere recently that a few publishers are opening older YA lines (books that are actually for young adults, not teenagers). Have you and/or your agent heard about this, and would you want to resubmit Flash?

inthewritemind said...

Thanks for this. I'm no where near that point yet, but knowing how I am, I will probably be an emotional wreck when the time comes. Reading this helps me realize that all writers go through it at some point and that we truly aren't alone when it happens, even if we feel like it.

Anyway, very happy that your dream came true! :)

Cat Clarke said...

Excellent advice Kiersten! Going out on submission was THE most stressful thing in the whole process. Checking for emails every three seconds, trying (and failing)not to get hopes up, thinking about it every second of the day. Urgh. Makes me feel vaguely nauseous even now.

Kristan said...

LOL. I will totally buy that pillow.

This post does make me want to cry and hide under the covers a bit... but then again, it's nothing I didn't already know. This process sucks pretty much the whole way. But still I love it.

I think they call that certifiable. :P

Kaela said...

Really good stuff to know, Kiersten. As I haven't even finished my first book, I try not to look too far down the road of this process. Haha, you're right, at this point getting an agent seems like such an insurmountable task! But it's so good to be prepared and pick up on these tips (I had no idea what being n submission meant).

Sidenote, the point where your book was out on sub and you were having infertility issues sounds like a really hard time and I'm glad you've lived through it for happier times! You're a tough little writer lady.

Renee Collins said...

*slams head repeatedly on tabletop*

Laci said...

Thank you for posting about this.

Corra McFeydon said...

What am I - crazy? And even after this post, I still want to try it.

(Seriously - great post. Thanks for the honest forewarning. It's truly appreciated.)

I'm nothing like the introverted person you describe... nothing.

:D

Christine Danek said...

Thank you for your heart warming advice! I am just starting to pursue this journey and your descrptions of being an emotional wreck made my day. I am still finishing my first draft and this story is my baby. So thank you for making me feel --should I say--sane. Take care.

Kiersten White said...

Definitely definitely not meant to be discouraging--but I hadn't heard from ANYONE how rough submissions were, and every single author I know who has gone through them has really stressed out. Even the ones who sell in two weeks on their very first sub. I just think it's important that writers know.

But--BUT--surely all of your books will sell immediately with no stress : ) So Renee, please no more head slamming.

We all knew this was a long, hard road when we started, right? But we are AWESOME, and so we don't give up!

Elie said...

Whoo, I brought you a box of tissues. But after all that you have shown to all of us that you hold within yourself a very important characteristic, dedication. You stick your chin up and keep pushing. You'll get it.

Andrea Cremer said...

Sing it, sister! Submission is hand-writing, gut-twisting horror - but look at the lovely light at the end of the tunnel. Oooh, shinies!!

jessica-shea said...

Oh, bless you. Seriously, thanks for being so honest. My book's been on submission for a few weeks now, and it is really stressful. I'm trying not to be too neurotic and to distract myself with new writing, but it is really stressful, so...well. Chocolate helps!

Kristi said...

Thanks for sharing this! I love reading about what ends up happening down the line and what I may or may not be able to expect...so helpful!

**and if you're taking pillow orders, I'll buy one as well. :-)

Debbie (Nerd Goddess) said...

Well... Thanks. It's good to hear it. Even though it's hard to even think about that process, and that after getting an agent, things aren't over, that they're still hard. But that you just keep pressing forward until something works out. :)

Chelsea said...

It's exactly how you say! Every word of it! I love that first day of submissions, when there's so much unsullied opportunity and this could be the time when everyone says yes and fights over my book like I hear happens to other people... And then the rejections start flowing it and I realize it's not that time, though someone could still want it, and that would still be awesomely awesome.

I have felt like an utter, complete and total disappointment both to myself and to my agent one moment, and then a few weeks later (which is publishing time for "a moment") gotten good news that made me feel like a winner and someone not disappointing at all. Was I actually a disappointment before that? I don't know--possibly only in my head--but there's always such a thin line between success and failure, and you feel that the most during submissions time.

Kiersten White said...

Jessica, that's why I wrote this. Before I went on sub I had no idea how hard it was going to be emotionally. I think it's important to share so that people can prepare themselves : )

And yes! Press forward! Always keep moving. That was the most helpful thing, I found.

elissa said...

soul-sucking but SO EXCITING! That's sort of a summary of the writing life, isn't it, as long as you include lots of waiting and obssessive email checking.

I'm hoping to go out on sub soon; thanks for giving me some insight into this wild ride. :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I've marked in my calendar each week that passes while my work's out there on submission. I keep telling myself "three weeks to three months," like this mantra will bring in the responses.

I will say the great thing about submitting with an agent (as opposed to going it along) is each rejection comes back with "agent padding" -- kind words to encourage in the midst of the disappointment. It helps.

Three weeks to three months. I'm at week eight. Ugh.

Kiersten White said...

Elissa--HA! Yes, that captures it perfectly.

Caroline, my fingers are crossed for you.

And you're exactly right--Agent padding and encouragement are the best things ever : ) Whenever I read articles about why you don't really need an agent, I just laugh. YOU NEED AN AGENT. Trust me.

Kayeleen said...

I must fall squarely in the crazy writer category. In a strange sort of way, this post is inspiring. While I am completely convinced that the road I've started is a long, hard, and often depressing one, I just keep getting more excited about it. Rejections? Bring it on! (Just be nice about it so that my husband doesn't have to pick me up off the floor too many times.)

Lisa Schroeder said...

How funny - it's been exactly 1.4 days for me. And no, I'm not kidding.

And because I've been through this before, I'm working on a new project. One that is challenging me and pushing me. Because challenges need brain power, and we all know the more engaged the brain is while on submission, the better!

Great post.

Wendy Sparrow said...

LOL. I retweeted this, but then ran out the door before I could tell you in a post how awesome this was. You captured my personality as a writer so perfectly than it's like you're future me--hopefully.

I'm glad you made it through some of this publishing gauntlet. You're a fantastic writer.

Wendy

Elle Strauss said...

Thanks for the post. I have a friend who's ahead of me in the writing game, so I already kind of knew that the road after agent could get bumpier not smoother. Still, it's possible to have that happy ending. If we don't quit!

Lindsey Bench said...

Excuse me while I go crawl back in bed and cry. And I'm not even a writer.

Mariah Irvin said...

You always seem to know what advice I need and when!

I'm not on submission or anything, but there have been little ugly doubts in the corners of my mind lately.

All gone!

Marsha Sigman said...

I totally stuck my fingers in my ears and hummed through the first part. Which didn't actually help because I am reading.

Thanks for the heads up. You know it wouldn't be half as awesome when you do make it if you didn't have to struggle so hard in the beginning.

Rebecca Knight said...

"Whatever they saw in your writing will still be there."

I think this was the most encouraging part of me. The icy claw in my stomach thinking about the submission process had more to do with "will my agent divorce me if my first book doesn't sell???" than anything else.

You are so right that whatever they saw in our writing will still be there :). Thank you for shining that ray of hope!

Carrie Harris said...

The best part about submissions? Being able to read something like this and LAUGH YOUR BUTT OFF.

I am now buttless, and it's all your fault. Actually, let's just blame it on Submissions Purgatory.

Marybeth Poppins said...

It's good to know these things and be prepared.

Glad you had a happy ending to your story though!!!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Gawh Kiersten! Thanks for making us all feel better. (j/k) : )

Happy Wednesday!

Lisa and Laura said...

Just reading this gave me the shakes. Going out on sub is THAT bad. Seriously. Thanks for outing all of us agented authors, K. I feel so free now.

Kiersten White said...

Lisa--Yes, exactly! Keep yourself busy! It's the only way to stay sane.

Lisa and Laura--No one talks about it! That's why I felt like I should post this as honestly as I did. If you're on sub you can't admit how rough it is. So I will admit it for you! : )

Everyone else--I'm glad this is helpful and not too discouraging. And Lindsey, psh, you were going to go back to bed anyway, admit it.

Candice said...

This just seems like a good old dose of reality. I imagine even after you get published there are tough times. Bad reviews, angry readers, waiting for movie deals. I think in any industry where you put out your very personal work for public review and critique it's gonna hurt sometimes.

Corey Wright said...

Look at all these fabulous things I have to look forward to! Can't wait :]

But seriously, thanks for this. I like knowing what can happen on the not-so-awesome side of things so that I can prepare. I appreciate your honesty!

Bethany Wiggins said...

Keep your chin up because in the end, the only thing you can control is yourself and how you treat others. So look at each failure as a wisdom-gaining experience that will make the next book you write ultra-awesome.

Ina said...

Kiersten,

I just wanted to say thank you. This post was exactly what I needed to read today, and believe it or not, it made me feel far from depressed. In fact, reading what you went through emotionally before landing an amazing three book deal is very helpful. Incidentally, you are hilarious and could probably make most depressing things sound quite funny and doable. Maybe a self help book for writers could be in your future? :)

Kiersten White said...

Ina: Ha! How about, "WRITERS: You're insane, and it's okay!"

T. Anne said...

OK, of all the blog posts I've read today, yours is my favorite. Aw heck, the best I've seen in a good long while. Thank you for this uplifting, non dream killing post. I really needed this. XOXOX

Kristi said...

Thanks Kiersten -- I'm so happy for your submission success and now I know how hard the process will be. I see more chocolate in my future!

Crystal said...

Hi Kiersten,

I don't think this is bad news at all--just a good dose of reality, which we all need to hear from time to time, especially us aspiring writers! So I really THANK YOU for laying it on the line like this, because you're right, it's not something that's generaly talked about. And guess what? I STILL want to do it! THANKS FOR PREPARING US! :)

JamieKate said...

Ugh. You're right of course. it seems the world is all pragmatic now. Like, "Follow your dreams!!...But you know, they probably won't happen. But still!" Or maybe that's just how it feels.
But you've inspired me. I'm going to go figure out how exactly to write that novel that's been churning in the back of my head recently. Thank you.
-Jamie

Indigo said...

*Runs screaming from the room*...

Honestly, I'm already feeling that emotional roller coaster of waiting. However this is just for the agents feedback - and then you tell me there's more!

I have to keep telling myself to "Breathe, in and out - just freaking breathe already." (winks).

Oh, but don't mind me. I'm alright collapsed in my corner. (Hugs)Indigo

Donna Gambale said...

I have nothing witty or especially meaningful to say, since I haven't even queried agents yet. But I really loved this post.

Ina said...

Oh yes! I'd get that copyrighted ASAP if I were you. I'd like to preorder my copy now, please.

Amanda J. said...

Thank you for being so incredibly open and honest about your own submission process. It really helps to know the possibilities. Also, you're awesome. ;)

Natalie said...

Wow. You pretty much nailed my last 3 months. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who finds the submission process somewhat soul crushing. The worst part for me is the waiting. I've gone from thinking "we should hear from almost everyone in 3-6 weeks," to "publishing shuts down in December", which gave way to "editors are trying to catch up in January." Please just tell me SOMETHING!!! Most days I don't even care if it's a rejection.

Wow, it feels good to be able to write that. This was a truly excellent post Kiersten.

Jay said...

Getting published is a series of mind bending, hand trembling, and emotion rending steps? Sign me up!

Great post, Kiersten, it's always really interesting to read about the journey.

AchingHope said...

I read this and at first I wanted to cry... And then I wanted to laugh (because writers truly are insane)... And then I wanted to embroider a pillow.

So glad I found your blog! Where else can those three things go together?

DebraLSchubert said...

Dream Agent: Check!
Going on submission soon: YIKES!

I may be banging on your virtual door for moral support.

Awesomely awesome, post, Kiersten. ;-)

strictlyinkwell said...

I'm sobbing onto my keyboard as I write this. I feel like you're telling my story. In Ireland you can still submit directly to editors. In June I submitted 6 chapters and synopsis to a publisher. In August I got a request for the full ms, including a comment from the editor saying she really liked it.
Cue euphoria and confetti throwing. I asked around and was told that most editors take 8-10 weeks to get back after submitting a full ms. So, after 10 weeks I emailed the editor (I'd met her before so I could do that)She said she'd get back to me shortly.
In the meantime I get rejected by 2 agents and my poor little story gets shredding up so much in a workshop that I'm totally terrified and decided I can't write.
Its now almost 5 months since I sent it in. However, I've been told by an author that this particular publishers take about 6-8 months to get back to authors, and the longer they take the better. And she was very nice in her email. So, by March I should know (cue panic attack).
I've been trying to keep busy since. I've revised my novel and am entering as many short stories as I can. I've also sold two short stories. So someone thinks I'm good. I think if my book gets rejected again though I'll just have a big bonfire and cry in a corner.
Good luck with yours
Ax

Kiersten White said...

Ax--There are other publishers! And obviously you're having success with your short stories. So even if this editor passes, don't give up! And in the meantime, we're all sending you happy vibes ; )

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Kiersten,

My YA novel just went out on sub recently.

Kiersten White said...

Fingers crossed for you!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Kiersten, thanks so much for sharing your experience. :) I am just getting started. I have always wanted to write, love, love, LOVE to write, but happen to work full time and have two small children and every excuse in the world not to have time. :) BUT... my New Year's Resolution this year is to WRITE THE BOOK. (I'm ok with it taking more than a year, lol, but I am pushing myself to put the fingers to the keys). I decided to blog the journey from complete newb who reads way too many author blogs to someone who fights the good fight and gets in the ring myself. I'm hoping to share the ups and downs and love that you have offered some of yours. Thanks for offering hope to those of us just starting the climb! <3

lora96 said...

Hi. I went a-querying (which sounds much more square dancish than it was) to no avail. So I dusted off my whiny self and started a new project. It's almost finished. And by finished I mean, ready to revise drastically.

Looking for an agent blew. There are TONS of good ones, that is not my problem. My problems ranged from lack-of-plot-action to extreme-terror-of-rejection. Every time I put a stamp on an envelope or hit on a query, I thought, with hushed desperation, Like me! Like me, pleeeeaaase!

Whether or not they'd like me personally if we met at, say, the grocery store, they were not loving Novel the First (aka That Which is 6 Zillion Words Too Long).

If I actually get an agent, I will be so far beyond delighted that i hope that euphoria will help to blunt the trauma of submission!

Shelli said...

how did you read my mind? subs are a crazy time. *sigh*

lora96 said...

FYI: When the title of the post said it was bad news, I was afraid that (a) something was wrong with you/HS/kiddos or (b) you were ending the blog due to meteoric rise of awesomeness.

Since it was neither of those, :)

Rhonda said...

You're so right. Very rarely do I ever read anything from anyone during the submission process. I'm not even close to that point yet but when I get there I now know I'll need to lay in a full stock of xanax, chocolate, tissues and possibly send the hubs into a "spouse of an aspiring author" witness protection type program. You know, just in case the chocolate and the xanax don't work so well. :)

Dominique said...

Not the most encouraging thing I've read in a while, but, then again, I long along dispensed with the illusion that this was going to be easy.

If at first you don't succeed, sky-diving might not be your thing. Knitting sweaters, though, might still be an option.

Annie McMahon said...

I like stories with a happy ending. :) Things worked out in the end, right? So it was all worth it, right? RIGHT?

I'm nowhere near ready to even query for an agent, but I'm absorbing all the info I can find. Thanks for the honest insight! It must be an exhilarating feeling when things finally work out.

Michael Joshua said...

(slams laptop and goes for the coffee pot)

I'm new to the industry (even though I am 54) completed my nonfiction work - sent out 10 queries, my dream agent asked for a full in 2 days -- that was 3-1/2 months ago. Since then, 30 more queries, no more bites. So I re-wrote my query letter, but still have hopes of the first agent offering me representation.

Somewhere along the line, someone told me to start another project, and another told me that you're not ready to be published until you have three novels languishing in a drawer. So I have two novels in the works and a nonfiction in an agent's hands.

I see I'm nowhere near the finish line.

Thanks, I needed that

back to a novel in progress...

Kiersten White said...

Annie--DEFINITELY worth it.

Michael--I don't think there are any hard and fast "rules" to how many books you need to write before you are "good enough." Just keep writing and getting better and doing what you're already doing : ) Good luck!

Mark said...

Umm, I hate to break it to you guys, but wait till the damn thing is published - now that has the potential to really SUCK.

Still, at least we'll get another great blog from Kiersten at that point...

www.markchisnell.com

Kiersten White said...

Mark--Fortunately I'm at the point where I can still pretend like that part is going to be AMAZING and EASY, and every single review will be populated by rainbows and hearts, my readers incapable of expressing just how much they love my book, which they will all buy twelve copies of, and tell everyone they know to buy twelve copies of, so on and so forth.

See, it's an imagination like this that made me a writer.

Francesca said...

I should feel disheartened, but I don't. I love reality. I mean, I do wallow in happy-sappy pink and golden dreams but I like to be (gently) slapped across the face (maybe with chocolate) and told to get a grip.

See, I do want this. More than anything. Really, I've wanted to be a writer for much longer than I wanted children or, you know, a decent haircut. And I'm done letting it be a dream -- and I'm done letting it be something scary and unattainable.

So it's hard. It's tough. It's emotionally demanding. It means being all sorts of unpink and golden things like dogged and determined and even teeth-gritting and end-of-rope clinging.

It's possible.

And that's the truth too. It's possible.

Thanks for this -- I really really loved reading it.

Kiersten White said...

If you find that perfect haircut, though, let me know.

: )

Hodmandod said...

I wish the internet had been around when I first wrote One Apple Tasted so I could have taken your advice. I landed an agent so fast I was gasping. Then the rejections started. After six months I curled back up in my shell. I did not write enough of another book. I just gave up on the whole thing. Finally the book was published 15 yrs later without an agent. Now looking for one. Writing the next novel. etc. Nice post.

Marshall Buckley said...

Oh, yes, I hear you.

It's the waiting...

It's the needing to check your email so badly that you get yourself a Blackberry or iPhone or similar just so you can be sure not to miss that crucial email.

And then, after a few weeks, you learn to just sit back and wait. And tell anyone who asks that "these things take time".

And then you wait some more.
And then you get some positive news. It's not *the* news, but it's moving, and you start jumping at the email sound again...

Until you remember, you just have to wait.

relliott4 said...

So glad I saw someone's Tweet about this post on Twitter. This touched on my current situation so much. This part of the process IS hard to write about. You don't want to come off as someone who complains, yet you also want to be honest about how very difficult it is being out on sub after getting an agent.

And that hopeful anticipation mixed w/the sick terror that takes hold when book number two goes out? Intense.

The only way to deal with it is to keep the hope alive and to keep writing. :)


Congratulations on your happy ending!

Krissi Dallas said...

Okay, first... your "depressing" posts still make me laugh. You have a gift, Kiersten. (Which only ups my excitement to read Paranormalcy this year...) And, second, THANK YOU... I never know what awaits me on this writing/publishing journey until I get there. Part of that is fun and exciting and everything I want the adventure of my life to be about... the other part of it makes me want to stay in the dark hole of my bedroom some days and cease to exist. (Dramatic, I know. Not that you understand DRAMATIC or anything... *sarcastic*) Seriously, though, it's SO therapeutic to get an inside peak at those who have gone before me in these areas...

Keep writing, Kiersten - both stories AND psychotic blogs that keep me reading only because you promise to bear bad news. LOL. ;)

Janice Kuechler said...

Kiersten, this was a wonderfully insightful blog. I am very new to this "writer thang" and am still in the process of trying to figure it out. So I am not anywhere near the point of trying to find an agent let alone making the attempt to publish. Trying to tie cohesive thoughts together enough to make a short is enough of a challenge at the moment - my stories jump around so much I'm thinking of entering them into a Gymnastict Competition!

Meanwhile, I have electronically "befriended" many authors and writers who have created Blogs and pages to journal their journey through the wonders of publishing. I cannot find the words to convey how much enjoyment I get from reading and sharing the ups and downs of these brave, humourous and sometimes a little cracked individuals.

The writers I follow are incredibly talented with weaving words into a many faceted tapestry of opinion and reality.

Stay strong authors of the future!!! Your time will come. Your reading public awaits!

I look forward to your first novel almost a much as you do!

Lee Wind said...

Thanks for sharing this - it makes it more real for the rest of us. And I'm so glad it had a happy getting published ending (or should I say ending to this beginning!)
Namaste,
Lee

Mark said...

I'm pretty confident that's exactly how it'll work out for you, Kiersten :-)

Janet Reid said...

Kiersten, This is a very illuminating post.

I hadn't quite realized how awful it can be for authors to be on submission. Part of that is because it's not awful for me, so I didn't even think it would be for them.

Part of it is I have stalwart authors who haven't ever really told me they're under the duvet with calendar and a bottle of scotch.

You've helped me a lot. From now on when novel goes out I'll talk with my clients about what they should be doing while they wait, and I do other things.

Thank you very very much!

I look forward to buying your book.

Kiersten White said...

I'm so glad this was helpful, guys. And I'm all about the Happy Ending, too.

Janet--Thanks! I never breathed a word of this to Agent Michelle while I was on sub. All authors want our agents to think we are absolutely cool, calm, and professional. That's the glory of the internet--you never even know we're answering all of your emails from under our covers!

Miss Dormer said...

Thank you so much for sharing this.
I'm so glad you stuck it through. I can not wait to read your book. (It's a part of my 2010 debut challenge!)

As an aspiring writer, this post meant a lot to me. I have great respect for people who can endure so much and still pull through. I can only imagine what that rejection feels like. I mean, I get all emotional when someone even looks disinterested in what I'm writing about!(I'm irritatingly sensistive)

There are many times I question my resilience. If I can really go through all that and still want to keep at it. Your post gives me hope.


-Sara

twaddleoranything said...

Thanks so much for this. How great, that writers can get their doses of reality from someone as enthusiastic and welcoming as you--it certainly makes the learning process more fun!

Annarkie said...

Who ARE these people that get their book sold to a publisher in a week?
I remember back when I first learned that it could take a year or more for an agent to sell your first novel. That is when I realized that getting an agent was just the beginning.
And the next scary part: To see if the book actually sells...shudder.
We writers ARE crazy :)

Heather said...

Ah, you made me tear up! I'm right there, been on submission since November and am just about going out of my mind. This is my second book to have gone on submission and the first one didn't survive the journey. It's twice as stressful the second go around because that fear is applified by a prior failure. Thank you for the inpsiration and the reminder that I'm not alone in this journey!

Jessica Capelle said...

Thank you so much for your honesty- it really helps to hear these stories because otherwise all we know is that you got a big 3 book deal in 3 weeks! Lol. Since you often hear more about the good side of submissions, it's nice to hear about the other side- I'm saving this and when I eventually go out on submission I will probably read it daily! Lol

Whirlochre said...

If my turn comes around soon, I'm going to think of a big sandwich, or the yellow underwater thing the Beatles zoomed around the 60s in.

Sub, sub, sub — geddit? Keep myself laughing. And sub- as in sub-human. Sub anything.

I know this strategy will work out. I just know it...

DeadlyAccurate said...

Part of it is I have stalwart authors who haven't ever really told me they're under the duvet with calendar and a bottle of scotch.

I always considered myself the least neurotic person in the world until the first time you sent my book out. Then I found out I'm a completely insane bundle of nerves. I check my email more in one week now than I ever did before 2006.

You never wondered why we have these specially-made holsters on our pants that are sized for whiskey bottles? Except Jeff, but that's because of the whole no-pants thing.

Vicki said...

This is an amazing post! One minute my heart is rapidly beating with OMG, this is scary and the next minute my lips are curling into a smile and I'm trying to suppress a giggle. (I'm at the day job)

I'm in the finding an agent process and waiting to hear from those request is hard. I really hadn't thought about how hard it will be when I have an agent sending out my baby. Thanks for the candid truth, with a touch of humor. :)

journalwriter said...

Kiersten,
I am so glad I ran into this blog from a link on Twitter. You had me laughing out loud several times reading your post about submissions. Thanks for sharing with such humor about your own experience and be such an encouragement at the same time.

Sincerely,
Dawn Herring
JournalWriter Freelance
Be Refreshed!

Phyllis Johnson said...

Great blog about the journey. We're all with you on this one. The first time I found a publisher it was a thrill. They saw me through the second book too. The third book (co-written with Nancy Naigle) is out seeking an agent and the adrenaline is pumping. There's nothing like being a writer!
Phyllis Johnson a.k.a. Cara Preston

june said...

I appreciate the confirmation. Everybody always makes such a big deal when they get an agent and of course it is, but It's always been in the recesses of my mind: They still have to get someone to buy the book, yes?

This is the part I've never heard anyone talk about until now. Thanks for the reality check.

jmartinlibrary said...

My game plan from here on out is:

Tell myself "It's not going to happen."

If it doesn't: no big surprise.

If it does: Holy Smokes, what a freaking awesome surprise!

Jenn Johansson said...

Great post, Kiersten! Obviously you touched a nerve. :) Great job perparing us all for the journey and letting us know we aren't alone. Thank you!

Jenn's Blogdom :)

Myssi said...

Just starting querying agents on my first novel. I have a few rejections and am now realizing how hard getting an agent is...it's amazing how many gray hairs a thirty year old can get from the querying process. If I ever get to submission, I'm sure I will be completely white-headed! Thanks for the post!!!

RKCharron said...

Hi Kiersten :)
Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing insight into the sub process & the author's POV on it. I love the comments on this post too. Thank you also for the advice at the end!
All the best,
RKCharron

Hardygirl said...

Whew. I'm not "out there" yet.

I'm bookmarking this for when I am . . .

sf

Katie said...

Thank you. This made me cry because I am in there - been on sub exactly one week and have decided to repaint several rooms in my house like a crazy nesting pregnant woman (which I am not).

I am going to remember when I sell this sucker to follow your lead and post about this.

Because reading this really, really helps.

God bless you!

Daisy Whitney said...

Couldn't agree more and I too an uniquely qualified having been on submission four times before getting a sale! Oh man, did all those rejections hurt. But when the deal finally happens, it's all worth it!

Krista G. said...

Oh, Kiersten, you wily one. I've been lurking here for a while, not really following because I don't want to be following so many blogs I can't actually read them all. And then you write this post - on my birthday, no less - and I finally have to give in and follow you:)

Kiersten White said...

Krista--I do my best : )

Jenn Chushcoff said...

Kiersten, I just read your post at a very apt time in my life. Your humor is uplifting. Thanks and best of luck to ALL of your endeavors.

Rachele Alpine said...

Ugh! I go on sub next week....can you feel my stress already???? :) Thanks for the post, now please send good thoughts!

Kristin said...

Love it! So glad it's a happy ending for you.

Corra McFeydon said...

A handmade trackback since I can't figure out how to do it the official way. :) I mentioned this article at my blog in a january in review post. Cheers! - Corra McFeydon

Nandini said...

I'm glad I managed to find this post again. I needed to read it today ... Thanks for writing it!

Jordyn said...

"if at first you don't succeed, do everything you can not to have a nervous breakdown" = THE BEST ADVICE EVER. thank you, kiersten.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an older post, but I found it searching about the submission crazies. This helped so much, so I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you so much for writing this post. It seems like there is SO much info to read when you're querying and almost NOTHING about being on sub, so it feels lonely. This helped me to keep sane!