The Road to Going on Submission for the First Time

Hello hello! Since my manuscript has been off with my agent for feedback and revisions, I’ve had a little writing break, but it’s been a great, productive few weeks. I’ve read 6 books in less than three weeks, which is a ton for me, have beta read a couple of fantastic books, spent time organizing our home and began major renovations on my office/writing space (I’m SO happy with how it’s coming along!), and celebrated my birthday. Am I still eyeing the chocolate peanut butter cake in the fridge? Yes, yes I am.

I’ve also been working more on creating regular content across my bookstagram, writerly/personal Instagram, and my newly made TikTok, which has been a fun learning experience. I was pretty overwhelmed when I first joined TikTok, and though I’m no means an expert, I’m getting the hang of it. It’s just so different from the other content I make, but it’s been fun! It’s really just me making bookish memes. No regrets.

Very soon, I’ll be diving back into revisions on my adventure manuscript, and I’m really looking forward to it. When I first started querying this book in the fall, I cried. Not because I was sad to start querying (I was nervous though!), but because it might mean I was truly done with the story for a long time if it flopped in the query trenches. I love this story and these characters, and as odd as it may sound, they feel like they’re my friends. I miss spending time with them in their world, and I was worried I’d have to say goodbye for a long while, like I had to with my previous story. When I signed with my agent, I was over the moon knowing I’d be spending time with my characters again!

My edit letter and feedback will be coming soon, and like always, I’ll review everything as a whole and take a couple days to review before diving in directly. I like to process information before making any decisions, but based on the conversations with my agent, I’m not expecting a massive rewrite. Still, I want to make sure I’m mentally ready and feel good about the suggested changes before jumping in.

After that, we may do another round with revisions, and soon we’ll start preparing to go on submission (“on sub”) to editors at publishing houses. One of the coolest parts about where I’m at now in my journey is that this is entirely new to me. I’ve been writing for years, been in a mentorship program, queried multiple books, constantly researched agents and their wishlists, been a beta reader/critique partner, attended virtual and in-person craft events, and so on, but I’ve only scratched the surface of this particular part of the road to publication. I know the basics of going on sub, but I usually put it in the back of my mind, telling myself I’d cross that bridge when I came to it. Now, the bridge is quite close!

So in addition to writing and such, I’m also paying much greater attention to editors in a way I never have before. I’ve always kept a close eye on agents to see if I fit their wishlist, but now, I’m looking at editors and their wishlists or the types of books they’re selling. I’m paying close attention to publishing deals when they come out, jotting down editors who seem like a potential fit for my book, and going through my own little library to note which editors and publishing houses may be a good fit.

Unlike querying, though, I won’t be the one directly pitching editors — my agent will! She’s already putting together a list for us, but I’m keeping an eye out too, partly because I enjoy the learning process and also because I want to feel great about our sub list. I completely trust my agent, but I know how my brain works: the more knowledge I have, the better I feel. I’m really curious what it’ll be like to not have those responses in my own inbox, especially since I can get pretty obsessed with refreshing my inbox (not a great habit). Now, it’ll be like having a shield from rejections, haha. I’ll try not to bother her too much asking for updates! 

I’ll dedicate a blog post to when I officially go on sub, but right now, I’m in a sweet spot where there’s so  much behind me to appreciate, and so much before me that I’ve yet to explore. No matter what happens on sub, I’m thrilled to finally be in the room. I’ve spent years working just to get to this point, to have my chance to pitch editors. 

When I was querying, I often felt like all of us writers were waiting for the school bus to move on to high school, but it was only picking up a few at a time. You watch as some friends and acquaintances  get picked up before you, but you’re still there, diligently waiting, your hands tight on your backpack straps as you pull up the seemingly growing weight. More and more get on the bus, and still you wait, sometimes wondering if the bus will ever stop for you. If it’ll ever be your time.

Keep going. I know it’s hard. I queried for years, waited at that stop for years, and there were days it felt silly to wait or want this dream. Those days were hard, and it’s okay to have hard days. But to quote Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, “Don’t let the hard days win.”

If you want this, or whatever it is you’re dreaming about so badly that you’ll wait at that stop for as long as it takes, don’t let the hard days win. I’m rooting for you. ❤

Sending hot cocoa with extra whipped cream,
Valerie

P.S. That photo is from my birthday, in front of my newly wallpapered office! It feels so much better to write in a beautiful space.

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