Monday, August 24, 2009

How Publishing Works - Part Two

Okay, so this is a little later than 'tomorrow' but here goes ...

Your partial manuscript arrives at the publishing house (or in the submissions email inbox). You should hopefully receive an acknowledgement of receipt. If you've submitted to Harlequin / Mills & Boon, you'll receive a snail mail confirmation with a reference number, possibly in addition to an email confirmation if you've subbed to one of the lines that accepts email subs. Your submission will be handed to whichever editor is 'on duty' that day. If you've submitted to an epublisher you should receive an acknowledgement via email and your submission will be handed to the relevant editor. No matter what publisher you submit to, the average wait time on a response is 3-4 months!

If the response is a rejection, allow yourself a short period to mourn (24 hours is good) then put it behind you and move on to the next project. If you're like me, by the time you receive your first rejection you will already have learned so much during your wait that you'll have a good idea how you can make the next one better. At a later date, we'll post about the different types of rejection letters and what you can learn from them.

However, if you've received a request to see your full manuscript, dance up and down for joy and break open the champagne. You are now officially out of the slush pile! Before you send off your complete manuscript, take note of any suggestions you may have received in your request letter. This is the start of your working relationship with an editor and you want to show that you can work with them and learn from them.

Again, expect the editor to take anywhere from 3-9 months to respond to your full manuscript submission. All editors are busy people, especially in these days of budget and staff cut-backs, so be patient. At this stage, you could receive a rejection, a request for a different manuscript, or a request for revisions. All of these are invaluable, because by this stage you'll be getting feedback on your writing.

A revision request, while it is exciting and worth celebrating, is also likely to be very scary. As with a rejection, allow yourself a couple of days to get over it. Your initial reaction may be "but that's a huge re-write! How am I ever going to do this?". Take a day or two, then re-read the letter. Break it down into manageable bits, starting with the big stuff and working down to the smaller stuff. Take your time and do it right. It'll be worth it.

Unfortunately, revision requests can still lead to rejection ... or to yet more revision requests. There are enough bruised writers out there who can tell you that they've been rejected after multiple revisions. It's heart-breaking, but you're so close. Don't give up. With every story you write, you're learning and growing. In publishing, perseverance pays off. There are many successful published writers out there who wrote 10 or more manuscripts before they finally sold.

One day, you'll hopefully get The Call from your editor and you'll make a sale. By that time, your manuscript will have passed up the chain of command within the publishing house and will have been approved at the highest editorial level. But this is still just the very beginning ....

For what happens after The Call, watch out for our next post.

1 comment:

  1. Romy and Mandy:
    Just wanted to say congratulations for creating such an interesting and informative website for SA romance writers - many thanks - and well done!