Playing the Submission Game

August 28, 2018

“It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.”
~ Elizabeth Taylor

I was so happy to discover this quote. And pleasantly surprised that many times it’s true for me. At other times, not so much.

Submission Obsession Part I

So two weeks ago I described my ritual for sending off one of my manuscripts into the publishing universe. It’s so exciting when something goes out—but then comes the waiting.

I confess to checking my email A LOT the first few days after a submission. I have a special folder for my agent’s email so I can see at a glance if she’s sent anything to me.

It went out on a Friday and I had visions of editors loading it to their devices to read on the train home because…I get my hopes up! Maybe one would love it so much, we’d hear that afternoon.


So onward.

Submission Obsession Part II

Nothing happened the next week and I was heading out to the SCBWI LA Conference and then to the San Juan Islands for vacation so I didn’t think about it much—

But then I did.

I couldn’t help it. I went back to look at the timeline for If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed.

  • 08/14/2013 – submitted 
  • 08/21/2013 – all publishers acknowledged receipt 
  • 09/17/2013 – Publisher wants to share it more widely
  • 10/31/2013 – Publisher makes offer 

(Yes, this is what I keep track of so I can look back and also share it so others can get a peek into the process.)

When I look at this and do a bit of simple math (about all I am capable of), I see that one of the first responses we received was just over a month after the manuscript was submitted.

So okay. While it would be great if publishers responded sooner, this gives me some peace of mind with the current submission. And things often seem slower in the summer anyway so we may pad that even more.

Submission Patience

Now back to that quote.

It’s funny, but I have gotten more patient with submissions over the years. I think it’s because I’ve been in the game a long time and know the drill. Writers new to the game, no matter what their age, seem more impatient to have things happen right away. But patience is our friend. As is having other projects we’re passionate about. And I have so much going on in my writing life that’s so fulfilling and gratifying—teaching, critiquing, consulting, sharing time with other writers. And loving my own writing projects of course. So I don’t think about submissions much.

But sometimes I do.

The Dream, the Wish

The story that went out on submission a few weeks ago is an early chapter book, but I’d love to have another picture book published (not just accepted) before I turn 60. Okay, ignoring the idea of me being 60—which sounds old, but really isn’t—and doing that simple math I’m so good at, that’s in 4 1/2 years. Monster came out 3 1/2 years after acceptance. I need to get some picture books ready to submit pronto!

But then I remind myself that the acceptance is out of my control. All I can do is write stories I love and am proud of.

And work with my agent to get them ready to submit.

And them submit them.

And wait.

Except I don’t wait. Not really. Because once the submission is out, it’s no longer in my control. I obsess a bit as I described above an then get back to what is in my control:

My next story.

Patience and waiting sort of flow under the surface, which is where they belong in this long view game.