Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Surviving Submission—Blog Chain Post

Last night I was in that weird half-awake, half-asleep state, the kind that usually provides a drowsy sort of contentment with myself, the world and everything.

Then I felt a tickling near my head. Thinking it was just the dog's tail, or her foot, about to kick me in the head as usual, I brushed at it. Only to have my fingers catch on the jagged spurs of a palmetto bug's leg. *eep!*



Frantic sheet swiping ensued, which woke the husband and the dog, and still, the little bastard got away. I spent most of the rest of the night feeling phantom insect legs crawling on my skin, so I got almost no sleep. It gave me a lot of time to lie awake and worry about the revisions for Evangeline I just finished...

Oh, wait, I forgot! Welcome to my very first post as a member of a blog chain. :) Don't forget to scroll through the blogroll in my sidebar, and be sure to check out Michelle's post here, and  Margie's post here.

Sandra asked us to blog on this topic: How have the recent changes in the publishing industry affected your career/writing plans?

This question was also in my thoughts last night. A lot. While others have posted to applaud the increasing respectability of self-publishing, or to lament the closing of so many brick and mortar bookstores, those changes haven't had much of an impact on my career or career decisions at this point. What I'm the most affected by right now is the increasingly selective submission process at publishing houses, and the rate at which trends keep changing in young adult literature.

I'm an agented author who's been trying to sell a paranormal romance since late 2010, when the genre had pretty much already peaked. While my manuscript has improved substantially (or at least, I like to think so) since I first sought representation, now the market is much tighter. Too many YA paranormal romances are being submitted to editors. If a publishing house recently acquired a paranormal romance and they only buy a certain number of them per year, it's unlikely my manuscript will find a home there. The same holds true for dystopian right now. The popularity of books like The Hunger Games has led to an increasing amount of futuristic and post-apocalyptic submissions.

So, it's become bigger than just writing the best novel I possibly can. My manuscript has to do more than just stand out from the pack. It has to have luck and timing on its side, too.

Now, I'm not trying to sound defeatist, or say that someone just got a book contract because they're lucky. It's a combination of so many factors, and luck is the least of it. Which means that we wannabe authors are just going to have to strive even harder to make our manuscripts shine, to work with what we CAN control. And that as tempting as it may be to drop your paranormal romance and start writing a suspenseful thriller, the best thing you can do is right [was just about to change this typo, but it just proves how tired I am today. Blerg.] the story that you love. The story that calls to you and demands you share it with the world.

But you're also going to have to be tough—palmetto bug tough!—enough to withstand more than your share of rejections. And just like that palmetto bug, you're going to have to be persistent. (Well, my imagination sure thought he was persistent, even though in reality, he probably scuttled off into the kitchen once the light went on, in search of the trash can under the sink. Goal oriented, those palmetto bugs are.)

So I guess I'll close by saying, that as gross as a palmetto bug's legs are, they did give me a lot to think about last night. I need to be as tenacious and impervious to rejection as my winged friend to achieve my goals. If only they were as simple as finding some garbage under the sink. ;)

18 comments:

Abby Annis said...

Congrats on finishing your revisions! I love Evangeline. Hang in there. You just haven't found the perfect home for her yet. *hugs*

And welcome to the chain! :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I don't know if this will encourage or discourage you (I hope the former): it's tighter and tougher for those of us who've sold, too. Keep plugging away at your best work and trust, girl!

Krispy said...

Ewww, those things are huge! I can't handle bugs. You don't know how grateful I am for the relative lack of giant bugs there are where I live.

It's good that you realize at least a chunk of it is based on trends and the market, and those things you have no control over. So no point in stressing too much about it. That said, you know I have my fingers (and toes!) crossed for you! :)

Susan R. Mills said...

Yes, I've been hearing a lot about the tight submission process. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for you! It will happen!

Sophia Chang said...

AAAGH WHy? Why? Why Tere Why??!?

Why did you have to put that image up there? I was going to read your post anyway, but had to quickly skim it so I could scroll past the bug part? AGHGHGHGHGHGHH ::traumatized::

Sophia Chang said...
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Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Welcome to the chain, and good luck placing your story!

Christine Fonseca said...

Welcome to the chain. Yay on revisions. And yes, this biz is TOUGH!!!!

Michelle McLean said...

ahhh great points! It is getting tougher to sell a book nowadays. And yuck! I'm now feeling phantom legs too :P I HATE when stuff like that happens.

Welcome to the Blog Chain!

Cynthia Lee said...

I really hate it that publishing is so trend-sucking.

Think of all the good books that won't be published because of the unfortunate timing or whatever.

Blech. It just bugs me no end.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I hate, hate, hate it when I get the phantom bug leg freak-outs. Sadly, I do that a lot! LOL. :-)

Anonymous said...
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Chelle818 said...

Yuk. Never heard it called a Palmetto bug before. Sounds so much nicer than cockroach. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

Good luck with Evangeline. I really enjoyed it. Hopefully you'll get an offer soon. :)

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks, y'all! No palmetto bugs in the bed last night, thank goodness.

Just to clarify, I do NOT have cockroaches in my house, but my backyard has so much wildlife and my house is so old and easy for bugs to breach, that these huge palmetto bugs (that live in my palm and pine trees) always seem to find a way in. Usually, I see them dead, which is definitely preferable.

They're still awful, but no, they're not breeding in my house like those little cockroaches do. Two very different species of insect.

I may sometimes put off my housework to write, but my house is not that dirty! ;)

Michelle H. said...

Great post! Welcome to the blog chain!

Yes, I believe things have grown tight in the publishing industry, Yet there isn't any need to ever feel discouraged. Just one set of editor's eyes could drop on your pages as he/she exclaims, "This is what we want!"

Jonathon Arntson said...

I think the tightening of the publishing industry will cause a revolt of creativity. I imagine it will be bloody, but those of us who make it through will be stronger than before.

Eric said...

Great post, Tere. Control what we can and not worry about the rest. That's my mantra for life, and you hit it on the head here. I envy you (that you're deep in the process of publication/agent searching) and yet I don't (because it allows me not to have all that stress LOL). Anyway, this is a nice and unique take on the subject.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Welcome to the chain! That bug is gross :)

You nailed it. Agents always talk with sadness about those projects they loved but couldn't sell. It's more than having a great book. It's about luck and timing. Having a great book is definitely a huge part of it, but luck and timing...those are the ones you can't control.