Thursday, May 14, 2009

Submissions and Results

Instead of talking about the craft of writing, I’d like to talk about the emotional side of it.

Yesterday, Myra Johnson's post over at Seekerville was about “Slaying the Criticism Dragons”. She posted a list of websites “to turn to when you need help slaying the dragons of criticism” and invited readers to talk about their rejection experiences. And the comments flowed in. Of course, I read them, and like many others, was left shaking my head at the cruelty some people can dish out under the guise of ‘helpful advice’. I’m not going to go into it here, but it’s very interesting reading.

At the moment, fear of rejection is very close to my heart. I am waiting on 3 possible career-defining moments, the results of which I’ll find out by email. So yes, I’m checking my email every 5 minutes although with some trepidation as to the actual results.

First is the Gensis contest which is the biggie for the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW). The results should be announced between May 1-15 and considering it’s the 14th today, you can see why I’m on tenterhooks. I’ve 2 entries in this contest; and realistically have a very good chance of becoming a finalist with one or both of them. This award will be given out at the ACFW conference in Denver. I had such a wonderful writing experience last year at this conference, I am going to attend again whether I’m a finalist or not. However, the thrill of having my name and book announced amongst 600 industry people at the gala banquet is a long-sought after dream.

The second event is more familiar to most of you as it pertains to Romance Writers of America. Each year, various chapters hold contests, announce the finalists and give the awards out at the RWA conference. This year, it’s being held in Washington DC. This didn’t even cross my mind when I entered the RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love Inspirational chapter’s Touched by Love contest in March. However, when I realized the award would be handed out at the RWA gala banquet in DC, I started hoping to become a finalist. Considering that I entered the same 2 manuscripts as in the Genesis contest, I have just as good a chance of finaling in this one as that. And, because I wanted to tempt fate, I told my husband if I became a finalist, I was going to DC. He just smiled and nodded. He doesn’t think I’m going. Not because he doesn’t believe in my writing, but because it’s so far removed from my comfort zone. But if I final, I dare not NOT go. Stay tuned as these results are due May 16th, just 2 days away.

Finally, I’m waiting to hear if a certain publisher liked my writing enough to request a full submission. This sounds so simple and yet it’s not – because of content. You see, it’s a sweet romance and I submitted it as such. The editor who received it really liked it and said if it was up to her, she’d ask to see the full manuscript. But, she said it wasn’t up to her because she handles the city executive billionaire heroes and mine was too ‘cowboy-ish’. And, because it was, the editors who handle the ‘cowboy’ books want it. She implied the new editors would be contacting me very soon. That was Monday and they haven’t emailed yet. And so, I wait.

If you look at each of the events individually, there’s nothing spectacular about them although each is one step away from publication.

And normally, I would be very disappointed if I didn’t succeed in any one of them but I’d get over it by the next day.

But all 5 of them within a matter of hours or days? (Remember, I put 2 entries in each contest.) I didn’t plan for these events to come due at the same time and I rather wish they hadn’t because once they start coming in, it’s going to feel like I’m bombarded with rejections. And I’m not saying that because I’m starting my pity-party early, but the bald fact is this is a hard market to break into and I’m going to be ecstatic if just one of the 5 is good news.

Is there anything I could have done to avoid this situation? Other than not entering or submitting, no. Just like a published author has many books on the go at different stages, a pre-published writer should have several manuscripts ‘out there’ at any given time. I know the wait for some lines of category books is up to 2 yrs for the manuscript to go from slush pile to final edit panel. So while you’re waiting, you’re writing and submitting, writing and submitting. It’s just the law of averages that some projects would converge on others.

So fellow writers, I’m asking for your help. Over the next week or so, if you find my comments either here or on Facebook, etc getting snarky, I give you permission to sit me down and berate me. Of course, I might be perfectly fine with the situation if I remember there are so many more writers out there with a true gift for writing masterpieces.

But if I know me, I’ll probably be bawling. sigh

And yeah, this might be unorthodox, but it’s my blog today, so there.

Are you waiting for an answer to a submission right now? How many do you have out? What do you have out? Who has it? How long has it been there? Are you frustrated that it’s taking so long? Do you wonder if it even got there? Come on, talk to me about your submissions. I have lots of time to talk today. After all, I’m only sitting here watching my inbox…



Karyn Good said...

I pulling for you Anita Mae. I'll be waiting to hear how you did. :)

I have no submissions out there currently but I'm working towards it. I'm getting my wip ready (I know, I've been saying that for months). I just need to stop obsessing over every sentence.

I'm thinking about what you said about having multiple manuscripts at different stages. I'm working my next project around in my head so I'm ready to start working on it this summer.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Morning, Karen. That's great. Yeah, I could tweak forever, too. I've actually come to terms with the fact I will always find some little thing after I send it out. It could even be the word 'or' instead of 'of' and it's gone past me and my 3 CP's and me again. But even knowing that, I have to send it out or I'll never let it go.

I'm excited to hear you're formulating another wip. Maybe you'll tell me about it the next time we drive together?

But about your current wip - do you have a submission strategy worked out? Maybe you need to put a deadline on it and tell yourself you can revise to your heart's comment before that date but once it comes, hands off... ?

Just a thought.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
I'm pulling for you too. I've been in your position, well not with 5 submissions (holy cow!) out at the same time, but waiting for results. And it's not pretty. Good luck and know we're all rooting for you.


Helena said...

Hi, Anita. Your energy and dedication to the writing and submitting process is awesome. Fingers are crossed even as I type.

I've just been shooting off my mouth about what constitutes success (over at our SRW member site). You are a perfect example of what I mean, because you have written, revised, made contacts, you have a plan, and you are carrying it out. I think that makes you successful, whatever the results of your current submissions.

Of course, you are a bundle of nerves while you wait to see if you reach the next level of success, but don't discount what you have already achieved on the way. You can be proud of all the work you have done so far.

Along with all the rest of the gang, I'm waiting with bated breath!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thanks, Jana. Yeah, 5. I want the results to come in but I'm cringing every time I receive a 'contest alert' message, because if I see the contest listed there, I know I wasn't a finalist.

Meanwhile, every time I see the little blue msg alert, I start to panic until I see the word 'Facebook' and know it's just friend's status update.

Yes, I remembered my blood pressure meds this morning.

Maybe the slush pile route without a 'result date' is the best after all... sigh

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thank you so much, Helena. I really appreciate you saying that.

I haven't been over on the SRW blog for a couple days. Eeeps! Thanks for the reminder.

And thanks for the encouragement. I'm glad it's down on 'paper' so I can come back and refer to it after. :)

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Your enthusiasm with all this is admirable, having so many things going at once. Were the submissions dates for the contests around the same time, for the winners to be announced at the same time?

I've been thinking lately about what I'd want to work on next, once this ms is finished and making its rounds. After all the world building that's gone into it, there are tons of other stories I could see telling within the same setting, but then I wonder if I should do something completely different for variety. Have you spaced your projects to hit different markets whenever they're ready, or do you prefer to zero in on the market you truly want to write and just hit that one with different concepts?

Janet said...

Fingers crossed for you, Anita. I know the waiting is hard, but I'm beginning to understand the saying "Hurry up and wait."

And Helena is right - each step takes is a success and each step takes us closer to our goal.

Write a story - check.
Edit and revise - check.
Query/submit - check.
Wait - check.
And like every good shampoo direction - repeat as necessary.

I've been in the waiting mode - and it's hard. Rejection is hard (although, we know there will be no rejection this time :). But what doesn't kill us...

Anita Mae Draper said...

Wow, Hayley - so many questions. Let's see:

- The deadline dates of the 2 contests were the same day, but I hadn't realized that. I had submitted the entries to the Genesis a week before the deadline and by accident realized I may as well enter the Touched by Love contest as well. There were a couple other contests I was going to enter at the same time but their results wouldn't be known until Oct. October! I didn't bother with them. It's actually very efficient for the Genesis and TBL to announce results in only 6 wks.

I started my projects because I needed to get them out of my head. While writing them, I considered markets. My goal has always been to write for Harlequin and even though 2 of my mss won't fit, I still wrote them because I needed to. I'd love to zero in on one market and I will, once I get that first sale, but until then, I'm doing what comes naturally.

As for you - you should do whatever is on your mind the most. If it's a story from your world-building, then that's what you should do because the best way to write is when you're inspired. So, what story do you want to start right now? What did you want to write yesterday? Are they the same? Or is there the hint of another story on the horizon? Maybe if you make outlines of your story possibilites one will become clearer.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thanks, Janet.

I think this is a good time to tell everone I've heard results back from one source:

the Sr Editor of Yellow Rose just emailed that she's rec'd my partial and will let me know by July 15th.

Now, that sounds like another long wait to find out if she wants the full but it's short compared to some other pubs.

Remember, I subbed this from a pitch I heard about on a blog. Very informal. Not even a query or synopsis.

I pitched on impulse. And when I looked at my ms, I realized my writing had really improved and revisions were in order. So, this time frame will allow me to do the revisions, send off and receive back from my critique partners, and have it sitting ready in case TWRP wishes a full.

It'll be interesting tonight on TWRP chat to see if they say anything, eh?

Okay, one down, 4 to go...

connie said...

This is absolutely terrific! I am not sure I can stand the wait. Please - open the envelopes, scream YES loud enough for us to hear from home and send an email before the envelopes hit the floor.
I am amazed at what you can do and have a family too.
I'd cross my fingers for you but it won't be necessary.
Waiting to hear so I can be unreasonably jealous

Silver James said...

Congrats, Anita! Uhm...Sometimes, TWRP works a little quicker than the "hear by" date they give you. Just sayin' get on those revisions. My editor asked for a partial, said she'd be back in touch within a month or so. Two days later, she wanted the full MS. A week after, I had a contract.

I've got two out with TWRP right now - one with my editor which is the second book in my trilogy and the other with Black Rose, the dark paranormal line. My first book with them is in the Faery Rose line.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the contests! I'm going to RWA this year - my first! - and I'm so excited.

A writer should always have multiple projects in one stage or another - either imagining the what ifs or creating characters, researching, making notes, or actually as some do, multi-tasking between projects in various stages of the writing. Once you become published, you have to learn to multi-task.

Hang in there and I hope all the news is good!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thanks, Connie. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Oh that it's carried on wings of angels to God's ear.

I've been helping hubby move stuff from the garage down to the quonset in preparation for a family reunion here in June and while I'm working, I keep thinking of all those other wonderful books I've read from writers who've been where I stand now.

And, I'm thinking of my friends on the contest circuit - especially those who are Seekers and wondering how I can think I'm equal to them, for they've been at this much longer that I. In fact, I've learned from their experiences and advice at Seekerville.

This isn't an invitation for compliments or encouragement, but rather, my thoughts on the eve of the final day. Unless they're late, but then, Camy has been blogging as usual and doesn't seem overly worried so I guess I shouldn't be, either.

Just think of this as the journal of a contest junkie. I like diva better but it sounds so...self-indulgent, ya know?

You're a nice group of writers to take this journey with me...

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Thanks Anita, I thought I was only asking one question, but you're right, there are a lot of questions marks in there! There's definitely no escape from my current ms until it's finished, as it's the only thing occupying me, but it will be interesting to see what else I can turn my ideas to when the time comes.

Keeping fingers crossed for you on results!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Okay, I'm getting a bit annoyed.

Facebook is going crazy with everyone tweeting and sending congrats on the Genesis results but I can't figure out how they now. I didn't get an email so I'm not a finalist. (waaaaaah)

But I'd sure like to know how they know...

Anita Mae Draper said...

Silver! I missed your comment - so sorry. It's quite unforgivablve of me but please be gentle...

Congrats on being pubbed with TWRP. After 5 months of chats, it seems like a really good place to work.

Yes, I'll get on those revisions. It's a lot easier since Janet suggested this May blitz. I've been writing the last couple days on blogs and reviews but not my revisions however that will change tonight.

Thanks for the enouragement. I appreciate it so much.

Silver James said...

No, worries, Anita! Have you checked your spam filter? I'm still hoping you get notice that you've finaled! And if not in Genesis, then in the RWA contest! I hope I get to see you there!

Yes, I'm full of !! today. LOL. My Muse is running amuck again. Hang in there. Something good will happen.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Silver, I checked my spam filter and cleared it out but nothing there.

I did find out that a msg naming the finalists was released on the ACFW loop. I'm not on the loop because I couldn't take the 50+ msgs generated daily. But the one who told me about it is one of my CP's so she wouldn've told me if my name was there. :(

Oh well.

Thank you for the encouragement. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

My CP just emailed me the Genesis results - there were 5 finalists in each cat unless there was a tie. Total entries were:

- 44 Contemporary Fiction
- 75 Contemp Romance ***
- 39 Historical Fiction
- 57 Historical Romance ***
- 45 Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
- 50 Romantic Suspense
- 45 Science Fict/Spec/Fantasy
- 62 Women's Fiction
- 37 Young Adult

That's a lot of entries!!!

The 2 with asterisks are the ones I entered.

Now I have to wait for the scores to find out how I really did. On Camy's msg, she said each entry went to 3 judges so that's over 1300 entries and to give them 4 weeks to get them all out.

That's 3 down. 2 to go.