The scariest part of writing is submitting. We’ve all been there: the heart palpitations, the shaky hands, the sudden Maybe I should be a hermit instead—or at least an accountant. I can’t promise that after reading this all your fears will drop away like slicing through the ropes of a hot-air balloon’s basket, but at least you’ll be more prepared.
Agents and editors want your work. I’ve helped host and attended numerous panels, and the resounding consensus is that editors are looking for first-time authors. Not only that, they’ll brag about discovering you in the secret editors’ meetings at the bars. The problem is getting your work on the right desk, because editors are also constrained by what the market needs.
A lot of rejections are wrong-place wrong-time problems: they just ran a similar story, or bought something similar, or it’s not quite the voice they’re looking for. When you’re submitting a novel, your lovingly crafted, many-years-in-the-making baby, and holding it up like Rafiki hoists up Simba to the adoring animals, and the animals are, well, not adoring and actually wandering off the other way, it hurts. Novel rejections can take months, something years depending on the publisher, and while it’s in limbo you can’t do anything with it. God help you if you included a lot of pop references.
But, there’s a way you can bypass that.
Get an agent, you say? Well, yes, that can be part of the process, but it’s still not completely necessary, so don’t panic. However, an agent can send your manuscript to publishers you may not have considered, demand faster responses, and even bargain for higher advances or royalties. Remember the Golden Rule: agents don’t get paid unless you do (everything else is a scam)!
But there’s an even faster way.
In the age of social media, editors and agents, along with everyone and their mother, have taken to Twitter. If you aren’t on Twitter, you should be (I’m guilty), at the very least to follow the hashtags below:
The purpose of ‘Pitch Madness’ is to pitch your book in Twitter characters—basically, a sentence. Agents and editors who see your synopsis may query you for a longer one, or even ask for a manuscript sample. Nervous about boiling down your brain child to 280 characters? The Pub Lab can help! Make an appointment, or check out our synopsis guide.
Visit http://pitchwars.org for success stories to explore other aspects of #PitMad.
Even better than Pitch Madness is the Manuscript Wish List—though it can be more hit-or-miss. Editors or agents using the hashtag tell you exactly what book they want. It’s the fastest way to get out of the slush pile yet, but make sure to look up their success before committing!
Still terrified of Twitter? Check out http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/.
All of us dream about our names in print, or even at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers. Don’t be afraid to try some of these tips out, or come talk to us for more information, proofreading assistance, and encouragement!
And don’t forget to let us know if you get published, so we can brag about you!