Tag Archives: On Sub

My 2016 Writing Life In Review, One Email Quote at a Time

2016 may have sucked for humanity, but it was pretty awesome for my writing career. As the year draws to a close, just for fun, here’s a look back on my 2016 writing life through email quotes!

I always am fascinated at anything writers, editors, or agents post about submission and publishing timeline stuff, because the timing in publishing always seems so shrouded in mystery. So for your entertainment, here’s one actual quote per month from a writing/publishing-related email I sent in 2016, tracking the evolution of THE TETHERED MAGE in its journey toward publication.

Actual email quotes are in blue, commentary in black. Enjoy!

January:

OK, here it is with the changes! I took all your advice. 🙂 All changes accepted, all comments deleted, ready to go.

EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

In January, I put the then-final touches on what was at the time a YA historical fantasy called A FALCONER OF VENICE and sent it off to my awesome agent, Naomi Davis. Uh, a lot has changed since then. Though Naomi is still awesome. (And still my agent.)

February:

Now I gotta get back to working on this WIP, but it’s hard to type with so many fingers crossed… 😉

In February, the book then known as FALCONER went out on sub to a small, select handful of editors. (Repeat after me, kids going on sub: “And now, we wait.”)

March:

It’s good to have news, even bad news—silence is unnerving! Thanks for sending along the feedback, too. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the remaining fulls & pitches.

In March, I got my first rejection for FALCONER. See, it really does happen to everyone!

April:

You know what’s really awesome when you’re a writer waiting for an email? Dozens of notification emails about someone updating a work thing.

This one is actually a tweet, because in April, I got no news of any kind on FALCONER and pretty much just sat there gnawing my fingernails and freaking out. And also working on my new WIP, which is a thing you should always do when on sub.

May:

Everyone I know seems to be in the same boat of publishing being just plain slow these days, so I’m not freaking out (honest), but I’ve basically managed to get myself superstitious that if I send you an email something will magically happen, so, uh, here’s the email. (Hangs head in embarrassment)

In May, as you can see, the waiting of being on sub got to me, and I snapped and sent my (wonderfully communicative, to be clear) agent an OH GOD I KNOW THERE’S STILL NO NEWS BUT THE SILENCE IS KILLING ME PLEASE SAY SOMETHING ANYTHING JUST SO I KNOW I’M NOT ALONE HERE IN THE DARK email, as you can see. I, uh, don’t necessarily recommend doing this. And she was being great about keeping me updated and everything. I just snapped. She was very nice about it.

Also, I lied. I was totally freaking out.

June:

(June was the month I got my book deal, so I give you several different email excerpts, because I can’t pick just one!)

I am certainly around this evening! And totally can make it until then without dying of suspense. 😉

This was about setting up a call with my agent when I knew she’d been talking to an editor who had my book.

I was lying. I actually died. But then I got The Call and it brought me back to life.

I’m still bouncing off the walls! My daughters think it’s hilarious. They have also reminded me that years ago I promised them if I ever got a book contract we’d go out for fondue, so that is definitely happening very soon. 🙂

We did. It was delicious.

Woo hoo!!!!! Still waiting to wake up from this amazing dream… 🙂 🙂 🙂

Six months later, STILL waiting. This is a hell of a long dream.

July:

“THEY’D BETTER USE THE OXFORD COMMA!”

In July, I signed my contract. This quote was my gut reaction to the section in my contract about following the house style guide. (Not sent to my editor, of course! Just joking with my agent. Well, mostly joking. I have strong feelings about the Oxford comma.)

August:

In other news, the revision is coming along great! I’ve got some good momentum going and am trucking along.

In August, I was busting my butt adding 50K words to my book and making it adult rather than YA, and original universe rather than alt history, among other structural revisions. “Trucking along” is want-to-seem-professional-ese for “OH GOD I’M WORKING SO HARD MY SOUL IS BLEEDING.”

September:

SO DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY to finally be able to tell everyone about this!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

In September, my book got its final title, THE TETHERED MAGE, and we announced it publicly. Oh, and I turned in that first huge round of revisions.

October:

Thank you so much for all the fantastic feedback! This is all incredibly useful. I’m excited to get going on the edits!

In October, my awesome editor, Lindsey Hall, got back to me alarmingly quickly with feedback on said enormous and soul-breaking round of edits, and I plunged straight into Round Two. NO REST FOR THE WRITER.

November:

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In November, they sent me an early look at a cover concept. The quote above is my reaction! I loved it and I still love it and it made everything seem like maybe it was all real. I also turned in my second round of edits.

December:

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s incredibly exciting! WOW!!!

In December, I learned that Orbit would publish my book in the UK as well as the US. I also got feedback on that second round of edits and am now working away on the third, which is nice and small and manageable, comparatively speaking.

You will notice a trend toward more and more exclamation points and capital letters as the year wears on. Clearly, by release day, I will be reduced to nothing but exclamation points, and all my emails and tweets will just be “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Gotta say, I look forward to it.


Going on Submission (Now With Scorpions)

The first rule of Sub Club is you do not talk about Sub Club. So there’s not as much out there about the process as there is about querying. While I was on sub, I know the posts other writers who’d gone through the process made about it were a lifeline for me, so I vowed I’d write my own once I was safely through that dark valley.

Here is that post. I’m not sure how actually helpful it is, per se, but I hope you enjoy it.

Congratulations! Your novel is going on submission! Are you excited? Are you SUPER EXCITED? Are you bouncing up and down because this could be it, and your novel could FINALLY be published?

You fool. You sweet summer child.

No, actually, really, you SHOULD be excited. Because this COULD be it! And you should be proud. You’ve made it so far, and you have a really awesome book. You’ve done a ton of work, your agent loves it, and you’re finally ready to BE THROWN INTO THE ARENA BLINDFOLDED WITH ONLY A TOOTHBRUSH TO DEFEND YOU FROM A DOZEN GIANT SCORPIONS—

Whoops, wait, no, it’s fine. It’s totally fine. It’s not like that at all.

Mostly, it’s not like that because you don’t even get to be in the arena. You’re sitting outside, nervously munching popcorn, with no idea AT ALL how your book baby is doing in there with that toothbrush fighting those scorpions.

(Also, I should say here that editors are not at all like scorpions, and actually are very nice people who love books and don’t want to crush your soul at all. It’s probably more accurate to imagine that arena is full of frolicking kittens. But that’s not nearly as dramatic, so we’re going with scorpions for now, and also, the point is you’re stuck outside the arena eating popcorn, so YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW. They could be unicorns. The arena could be empty. IT’S A MYSTERY.)

And here’s the thing. You sit there with your popcorn, and you wait.

And wait.

The silence drives you crazy within hours, but unless you’re very lucky, you have to wait for months. And there is nothing you can do to make it go faster.

DO NOT TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE SILENCE. You will want it to mean something. You want its horrific eternity of torment to have some hidden signal or significance. Maybe you’re not hearing anything because the editors loved it and are getting more reads…Or maybe because they’re totally unenthused and put it at the bottom of their pile… Or because your agent doesn’t want to hurt your feelings… Or because THE GIANT SCORPIONS ATE YOUR AGENT OH NO WHAT IF SHE NEEDS RESCUING…

Stop. No. Put down the popcorn. Walk away from the arena. Do not listen to the Silence. Do not look at the Silence. Do not let the Silence look into you.

What you SHOULD be doing, everyone will tell you, is writing the next book. That way if your book is getting really tired fighting those scorpions, you’ll have fresh, maybe better-equipped reinforcements ready to throw in there.

But if you can’t manage that, go find something else to obsess about. Something that will consume your life. Buy a house, or have a really pressing work deadline, or get a puppy, or something. You want to be so distracted running around putting out fires (Hey! Maybe literally! You could become a firefighter! They get awesome hats!) that you forget you’re on sub, even for one brief, fleeting, precious moment now and then.

(Probably writing the next book is best. Do not use this blog post as an excuse to get a new puppy even though your spouse/mom/landlord says you can’t.) (Actually, puppies are awesome, so I’m not judging.)

Here is the secret. Here is the one and only thing the Silence means. Are you ready? Can you handle the deepest and most profound mystery of authordom?

Here it is:

PUBLISHING

IS

SSSSSSSSSSLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW.

sleepy-sloth

That’s all. There is no deeper significance. It’s just slow.

Eventually, your agent will come by with a nice lemonade slushie and more popcorn and the halftime score. The score may be something simple, like SCORPIONS: 4, YOUR BOOK: 0. Or it may be more complex, with feedback or agonizing IT WAS SO CLOSE details like making it to acquisitions before facing the poisonous tail-barbs of defeat.

Suffice to say you’ll almost certainly get rejections first, and that’s totally NORMAL AND FINE. IT’S FINE. EVERYTHING IS FINE. Do you know why?

Because only one thing can end your journey toward publication. And that’s you giving up.

If not this book, the next book. If not that one, the one after that. YOU ARE AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE. You’ve made it this far; you have to be.

Someday your agent will come back from the arena with a huge smile and good news about your book’s stunning victory. You will enter the arena at last, toothbrush held victoriously aloft. You will fight side by side with the scorpions (or kittens, or unicorns, or whatever they turn out to be), carrying your  book on to its next battle: publication. It will be AWESOME. Bring snacks.

I’m cheering you on in the stands.