Today author BETH KERY, who also writes as BETHANY KANE, shares her perspective on the submission process. Beth is giving away copies of ADDICTED TO YOU by Bethany Kane and LIAM’S PERFECT WOMAN by Beth Kery. Post a comment to be included in the prize drawing! (Please note that ADDICTED TO YOU is for adults!)
I was recently over at the Harlequin blog, giving advice via an interactive loop about the submission process. When Becke Martin Davis asked me to blog for the first time at Romance University, I was very excited to hear about this blog. I also thought it might be a good chance to get my thoughts down in a cohesive article. Keep in mind, however, this is just the ramblings of one author. I’m sure there are plenty of valuable opinions on this crucial process. Here’s mine on a few highlights, for what it’s worth.
To start off, I have a shameful admission to make in regard to submitting a manuscript for the first time. More than a dozen years ago, I submitted to Harlequin. After an excruciating wait, I received a call—yes a call—from an editor, requesting a full manuscript. After another painful wait, I received a rejection.
This was my first experience with a book rejection, and I had no way of knowing it was a ‘good’ rejection, with pages and pages of suggested changes and critiques from the editor.
Yes, there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ rejections.
I didn’t belong to a writer group at the time, or online communities. I felt defeated and—here’s the kicker—threw away the manuscript.
Oy. It makes me cringe to think of it. I didn’t submit again for almost ten years, thankfully more successfully.
Manage your self-esteem and expectations.
The point of that little story relates to my first suggestion in regard to submission—a psychological one versus a practical one. Never give up. If you truly love to write, and want to be a published author, stay with it. This business can clobber an author’s self-esteem at times. Writers need to insulate themselves with writing groups like local RWA chapters or online groups. These groups not only provide valuable information in regard to the writing world, they help to keep your pride intact in a business that can be soul-scarring, if we let it.
When does the submission process begin?
For me, the submission process begins even before the first word is written on the page. Do your homework, check out agent and publisher specifications, and read multiple books in the line. Don’t think of this as curbing your unique storytelling talents. You know what you want to write. Now make sure you research the type of agents, editors and publishers who represent or buy that type of book.
Do you want to write this book for creative enjoyment?
Do you want to write a book for fun, creative outlet, or to challenge yourself? Or do you want to sell it? All answers are great. Ideally, you’ll want to enjoy yourself and get paid. One problem I hear from new writers, however, is that they focus solely on goal one, and then try to squeeze their finished book into the specifications for goal two. A sale might occur that way, but you will improve your chances for publication if you attend to both goals from the onset.
Should you get an agent before submitting?
This, of course, is a personal choice, and one that should be fully researched. There are a few New York publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts, but be warned, your wait time will likely be longer than that of an agented writer. Most of the traditional publishers do require an agent. You can find submission guidelines for each publisher online. If you plan to write for a small publisher or an ebook publisher, chances are you won’t need an agent, although some writers would recommend having a lawyer examine the contract.
There are many positives to having an agent. Your agent has a long-term, familiar working arrangement with editors. She’ll promote your work, and it’s possible you might get a book contract without ever submitting. There is no guarantee for this, of course, but you have a much better chance of it happening with an agent.
Agents also represent you in ways that you might not think of initially. They negotiate your contract in a knowledgeable manner. They can increase your writer income with savvy treatment of issues like international sales.
Confused about the issue? If you know any writers, contact them and ask their opinion. Try to get feedback from both unagented and agented writers.
The dreaded synopsis
This is a popular topic when a writer first submits. We all dread having to encapsulate our story into two pages. It feels forced and contrived and we’re sure it’s all wrong.
Let me assure you, first off, that all writers feel that way. (Okay, there are probably a handful of synopses whiz-kids out there, but we’ll just assume they are as rare as geniuses).
I am one of the masses. I dread writing a synopsis. Having written my fair share at this point, here is my only advice.
One: If you use a writing technique, like the Snowflake Method,
for instance, your synopsis is generated before you ever write Chapter One. I admit, I don’t always use this method, but I’ve used it frequently, and I do wish I’d known about it years ago. Writing books also have chapters on synopsis writing, so if you feel like investing, that’d be a good way to go.
Two: Get yourself really excited about your story. I mean, you do love it, right? Now imagine sitting and telling your girlfriend about it while your chatting over coffee. You’re not going to go on and on and on about every detail. Hit the significant characters’ relevant traits, plot high points, the major conflict, and resolution. Why do you love this romance? It doesn’t have to be completely unique and ‘wow’ but you DO have to believe in it, for some reason.
Be your book’s number one fan. Get yourself in a mood to write the synopsis. Your genuine animation and excitement for the story will shine through.
Writers Need Extra Eyes
Not on our face, on our manuscript!
I know you know it already, but don’t submit your baby to an editor without having several people read and proofread it.
I know you know this already, too. This business is very competitive. Don’t cancel your chance to be read and enjoyed with multiple typos and content problems.
Having said all of the above, I should also say, I love being a writer. Every whine, backache and hair bunches in my fist has been worth it.
If you’re reading this, chances are you already are a writer or aspire to be one. Please feel free to add comments or ask questions to enrich the article. As I said, I wanted to hit a few highlights that have been relevant to my submission experience.
Last but not least, if you are about to submit somewhere, good luck! Be excited about your story, be meticulous, and most of all—don’t give up.
What is the most difficult part of the submission process for you? How to you prepare to submit your story?(Anything from researching agents and editors, to bracing yourself with a stiff drink before you hit “send”!)
On Monday, author DAMON SUEDE discusses the evolution of romance through the mad science of sub-genres.
Beth Kery loves romance, and the more emotionally laden and sexy the romance the better. She is a national bestselling, award-winning author of over thirty books and short stories. She also writes under the pen name Bethany Kane. Find out about Beth and her books at www.bethkery.com, at Twitter, Facebook, or chat with Beth at her Yahoo reader group.
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