Practice Makes Perfect
My closest friends all know what a perfectionist I am. They also know that I will analyze an issue to death in an effort to come to some sort of conclusion. So, when I started to submit my writing for publication, that’s what I did. I read and read and then read some more about writing and querying and the submission process. I talked to other authors, combed through publishers’ websites with a fine toothed comb, all in the hopes of finding that ever-elusive conclusion: What are agents and editors looking for?
Even after signing a contract with Bookouture, I still don’t have an answer to that question. The reason is because there’s not an answer. It depends. What I can offer in terms of advice to writers is twofold:
Number one, if you are getting any constructive feedback at all, Do. Not. Stop. Continue submitting! I had no idea how good or bad of a writer I was when I started submitting my manuscript called Flipped for You, but I was getting feedback–good feedback. I kept submitting and trudging through the laborious process of querying, sending in partials, and finally submitting full manuscripts only to get a rejection for one reason or another–it wasn’t steamy enough, it was too short, it was too long, it was written in the first person!!!
After a while, I started to doubt myself. Why wasn’t I getting a contract offer? I decided to put Flipped for You away and chalk it up to experience. I officially called the manuscript “practice,” and I started working on another story. But then I analyzed some more. Maybe I wasn’t submitting in the right places, I thought.
I sat down at my computer and went through lists upon lists of agents and publishers. I spent hours that night, and at the end of it, I had only two publishers and an agent that interested me. I pulled Flipped for You back out, and I revised it again. That night, I only sent it to one publisher. (A day later, I sent it to the other two.) The publisher that received my submission that night was Bookouture, and the manuscript that I had almost labeled “practice” had just gotten me a contract! It’s now called Coming Home for Christmas, and it will be out in September.
The second piece of advice that I can offer is to learn about the publishers before you submit. Make sure that they feel right. Pay attention to their website, submission process, cover designs, and what they offer you as an author. Don’t settle. Your writing career depends on good choices here. Having signed with Bookouture has been the very best experience that I could have. I am inspired every day. In the meantime, if you’d like an insider’s perspective on Bookouture and its fantastically creative founder (and what he’s looking for), have a look at this interview: http://thehotpinktypewriter.blogspot.com/
Good luck to all of the writers out there!