Sara is back and fresh from a conference in Texas where she (no doubt) heard many great pitches for books she can fall in love with and sell. So, what’s the next step? What happens when your agent starts submitting your work to publishers. Read on and find out.
What do you need to know about submissions?
I’m going to narrow the scope of my blog post today to address one specific step in the publishing process. In general, this post is aimed at authors who are having their manuscript submitted to a publishing house via a literary agent. This might be your first manuscript or your twentieth, but here’s what you need to know about submissions.
1) A book must be 100% polished in order for me to shop it to editors. There are some exceptions (for example, if you’re a published author negotiating your fourth book deal with the same publishing house, that house may buy that fourth book on proposal). But in general –strict competition in this industry demands that our submissions are 101% polished when they are read. Be prepared for your literary agent to demand a perfect manuscript before sending it out. Yes, I do offer editorial feedback to my clients and it’s not unreasonable to go through two to five rounds of edits before going out on submission. Tiffany Reisz and I worked on THE SIREN for months before we ever approached editors. If I remember correctly we revised four or five times. It was worth it as THE SIREN sold to Harlequin in a two book deal, but new authors can be surprised by the amount of work required even after signing on with an agent. Remember – we’re not looking for books to work on, we’re looking for books to sell.
2) I do give my clients a list of the editors to whom I submit. Many of my clients take that list and follow these people on twitter or search publisher’s marketplace for information on recent sales. Heck, that’s what I would do if I were on the other side of the computer. I believe in the open submit list policy, but be aware that not all agents operate this way (and that’s 100% ok). Here’s my process: I send the list of editors to my client, then I follow up to let them know who has requested the manuscript and then I communicate each and every offer or pass. If a client wants to know more about why I chose an editor and imprint – I provide that information also. Do you NEED to know all this? No. I do it because I think communication helps authors stay sane in a very exciting and nerve-wracking time. For the record, my submit lists tend to include Big 6 publishers as well as small presses. More on that for some other blog post, eh?
3) Be prepared to wait. For romance novel submissions, my average wait time right now is 2-4 months. One of my clients had an offer on the table 12 hours after their book went on submission and one client waited 10 months. Usually we get the rejections back first – editors open the manuscript and don’t fall in love with it, so they send off a nice no thank you. I don’t get offended if it takes a while to get a response, however at about the 10 month mark (after some nudging and pinging) I call any no-response a pass and move on. By the way – what should you be doing while on submission? Keep writing!!! Don’t worry about it (too much), just keep moving forward.
4) A no is a no. Typically, an editor will read and respond to my submission via email. That means I will either get “yes, I’m loving this and would love to talk to you about an offer” or “no thank you, this isn’t quite right for us.” When an editor passes, it’s a final no – we don’t go to another editor at that imprint. Usually we don’t even go to another editor at that same publishing house. Once we get a pass, we move on.
5) There is always a Plan B. If all the editors on my submit list pass on a book, then I have a second round of editors to try. I don’t call these “Tier Two” as it’s not an issue of quality. I only submit to editors and publishing houses that I trust will do a great job, so whether it’s Tier One or Tier Three, I am excited about the potential partnership. My first round is a list of editors who I know are acquiring in this genre and who I strongly believe will connect with a writer’s voice and want to acquire a book. Plan B means that I don’t know that editor as well or how their imprint may work for this particular kind of novel. I even have a Plan C if all my Plan B editors pass. Three rounds is about my max though – and that would usually represent about 18 months of submitting. At that point, I would discuss other plans with my client – shelve the book, shop a different book, etc. Having a full game plan is important as submissions tend to be unpredictable.
6) Don’t post submission information online. This may be super obvious, but don’t post any information about your submissions process online. Not on twitter, not on your blog, not on Facebook. This is just my suggestion of course, but if an editor sees you saying “we submitted” and the post is four months old, that editor may feel the book is no longer quite as hot. Also, never ever badmouth an editor for their rejection – not by name, not by imprint and not even by hinting at it. You can say “I’ve signed with an agent” and “we’re working hard on my manuscript” and “hoping to submit to editors soon” but that’s about as far as I would go with it. Editors will cyber stalk you so keep it professional!
Hope this helps! Happy writing,
Okay – Sara is in the house and she’s ready to answer your questions about submissions. Are you actively submitting? Do you have a Plan B or C?
Tomorrow, Jennifer Fedderson from AudioLark Audiobooks will give us some info on how audibooks can factor into your book sales.
Her heart won’t forgive, but her body can’t forget…
Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat – a place where the elite to escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her, Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.
Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate—and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.
Bio: Sara Megibow, Associate Literary Agent
Nelson Literary Agency, LLC
Sara has worked at the Nelson Literary Agency since 2006. As the Associate Literary Agent, Sara is actively acquiring new clients! The Nelson Literary Agency specializes in representing all genres of romance (except inspirational or category), young adult fiction of all subgenres, science fiction/ fantasy and commercial fiction (including women’s fiction and chick lit). Sara is an avid romance reader and a rabid fan girl of super sexy and intelligent stories.
Nelson Literary Agency is a member of AAR, RWA, SFWA and SCBWI. Please visit our website http://http://www.nelsonagency.com/for submission guidelines, FAQs, resources and sample query letters. Sara’s Publisher’s Marketplace site (www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/SaraMegibow) is a great place to find more about her personal tastes, clients and recent sales. You can also cyber stalk Sara on twitter @SaraMegibowHow an agent chooses what books to read.
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance!
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Interpreting the Rejection Letter
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The Real Lowdown on Selling with an Agent
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Submission Suggestions
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Ask Her Anything