Just over two months ago, I submitted my new contemporary romance to a publisher with whom I’ve never worked. It has potential for a three-part series and I believe it’s a fun and emotional ride of a novel. I have faith in this book. My beta readers told me they have faith in it as well.
However, submission is typically a long process. In general, one can expect a response from most romance publishers anywhere up to three months down the line and one wouldn’t send a query letter before that time is up.
We writers are insecure creatures though. Upon approaching the three month mark, my mind starts to play vicious little games with me. I thought it might be illuminating to share what occurs in a writer’s brain two months into the submission process.
Firstly, of course every writer thinks their book is a work of art. We dream of getting a response within the first week, saying, “This book is incredible! We must publish you now!” This is especially true if one has been published elsewhere before. When that doesn’t happen, the deflation begins. Deflation is a terrible monster with a soft footfall. You don’t hear it coming. All you know is you somehow feel off. Before you know it, you are standing in the pile of skin that used to house your confidence.
Self-doubt creeps in and is amplified with each week of no response. “Did I polish my manuscript enough?” “Did I miss any typos?” “Is my story of the tender love between an elephant shifter and a squirrel shifter just not compelling enough?”
I remind myself the publishers are busy. Not only do they have their in-house authors to support, they are constantly reading and acquiring new authors. But I’m supposed to be one of those new authors, right? RIGHT??
Sometimes one gets angry during this process. “So-and-so published fifty-seven of my previous books. Am I still not good enough for Publisher #2? Don’t they know who I am??”
(This is where I remind myself I’m not really all that well known and to stop using double question marks.)
I often enter a zen state around this point. All will be well. Things happen for a reason. Stop checking your emails. This builds character. Count your blessings and all that shit. The zen state lasts for about ten minutes.
Somehow I force myself not to dwell on my submission for a couple of weeks. I write something new. Onward and upward, right? Things are good. I am the epitome of patience.
I hear about someone else who just got accepted by Publisher #2. I bite my nails down to the quick.
I start to play the “I love you, I hate you” game. Maybe I don’t WANT to be published by these guys. Maybe they don’t understand my work. Of course, I only indulge in this train of thought for a short time. I really do want to be published by them.
A friend reminds me the editors are probably busy with such-and-such. I get it. My logical brain understands. My heart, not so much. I begin to wonder if the editors have even seen my manuscript yet. What if it’s still sitting in the slush pile? What if my email somehow got lost? A whole other set of worries set in.
It’s all rather ridiculous, isn’t it? However, for many of us, I have no doubt we play at least a few of these mind games. Why would anyone willingly put themselves through this mental chaos? Because that is how it’s done. Because when that book is accepted, our jubilation is all-encompassing. “Finally, a publisher who understands me! I have been validated. I love these guys! They rock.”
The game begins again.
I will be sure to let you know how things go.