Being on Submission-From the Heart

I don’t believe in jinxes, yet I find myself becoming more cautious about sharing information too early these days. It probably comes from spilling exciting news with a friend or family member then having months go by without anything further happening. People call daily with the “Any news yet?” questions and it doesn’t take long for those questions to change and then stop altogether.

Months in publishing are like days to the rest of the world.

There are a lot of us trying for spots and editors are insanely busy people. Add to that fact I approach my stories with a “and now for something completely different” aspect,and things are just a little more difficult. (I blame Monty Python.)

But, when I first went out on submission, I’d just had two friends go through those whirlwind “got an agent and an auction within days” scenarios. So I’ll admit, my expectations started too high. I had more than one agent interested, an editor loving the book–I thought things might finally start happening. (Remember, I submitted category romances on my own for years until I finally listened to the editors who kept saying I could write, but category wasn’t my place. )

Those whirlwind publish-fast situations are honestly rare. Most of us take a bit longer. And it didn’t help that when I went out in 2008, the publishing industry went through a scary shake-up that seemed to last FOREVER. (My personal life was hit with the same economic nightmare simultaneously, so my hopes were extra high due to that as well.)

But back to the news sharing. Truth is, even the smallest bit of positive news is exciting and keeping that to yourself is damned hard. But things change at the drop of a hat. So now, I try to keep quiet. Um, that’s hard for me.  Just sayin’. I can keep secrets for others, but when something fun comes my way in this business, I’m all about the outside voice.

Now, I’m not talking about sharing the big stuff like getting an agent or a book sale. Those are the two biggest goals an aspiring writer has and success in either is a big, big deal. We work so hard for those! I’m talking the little things-the possibles that crop up here and there.

But what is submission really like?

It’s very, very quiet. Like I said, lots of us vying for spots and unfortunately, we writers spend a lot of time alone in our heads and that constant flame of hope can flare up and burn away concentration at times. So sometimes that quiet isn’t quiet at all. Only a writer is going to get that, btw.

Now, here’s the from-the-heart-part, a kind of heads up for anyone who finds themselves in this position. It’s normal to start losing support when something has gone on this long. I started writing and finishing books more than fifteen years ago. And lately, my family has gone through some really tough economical times. There are some who feel I should give another career a go, that I’m wasting my time. Some are urging me to self publish and others have reminded me of the definition of crazy–doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Yes, I AM writing a new book and yes, I do hope it will be great enough to sell. That isn’t going to change.

This is never going to change.

I love to write and while the publishing side of the business can dampen that love occasionally, it can’t kill it. Because the writing part of the process is all me. This is the part I control and this is the part that still makes my heart beat fast when that new idea hits.  There is nothing better out there.  It’s better than wine and you all know how much I love wine. 🙂

Even more intense is the desire to see my books on the shelves. It hits me every single time I walk into a bookstore. When I opened the package with the Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance, my heart was pounding with so much excitement, I nearly tripped coming back from the mailbox. And yeah, okay,  I did run my hands over the smooth covers. For a long time actually. Hubby teased me about that. But something I had written was in there. And the MBOSOR only has a short story in it. I can’t imagine what it will be like to hold an actual book.

Okay, that’s a lie. I can. It’s what keeps me going. That and the telling of the story itself.  Without that desire and that love, the rest of this might not be worth it. 🙂

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About Rinda Elliott

Writer.I love unusual stories and credit growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and romance kept us amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, I tried to separate my darker side with my humorous and romantic one. I published short fiction, but things really started happening when I gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, I love making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with my husband and two children. I’m represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency.
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22 Responses to Being on Submission-From the Heart

  1. Shea Berkley says:

    Aww, Rinda. Your post especially touched me. I am so with you on the keeping quiet front. My poor family is befuddled by my passion. They don’t get it, and how could they. We slave away, writing from our hearts only to, more often than not, get rejected by an editor who thinks our writing is great, but didn’t fall in love with A, B or C. Hurts like heck, but we keep going.

    As Commander Jason Nesmith of the NSEA Protector says, “Never give up, never surrender.”

    — Shea

  2. relliott4 says:

    A lot of my family still supports me, but the comments about doing something different do pop up more often these days. All we can do is put our heads down and keep going and hope we get to say, “Look, it worked!” 🙂

  3. Libby says:

    Great post, and I can really relate! And as to that insanity thing, I think all writers have a touch of it to begin with. How could we keep at it through all the obstacles otherwise?

  4. Today, you are my hero. Well, to be honest you’re OFTEN my hero, but still… this is a wonderful post. 🙂


    Kaz

  5. Liz says:

    What a fantastic and heartfelt post, Rinda. And I am so pleased your copy of Special Ops arrived. Isn’t it gorgeous?

    I love those last few sentences. So very true and I agree: never give up, never surrender.

  6. relliott4 says:

    Liz, someone told me that only a crazy person would keep at it for so long. Another said if I was indeed good enough, the books would get snapped up.

    There are so many things editors have to take into consideration and especially these days with the economy so shaky. But most people outside of this business just can’t seem to grasp that. And truly, I don’t blame them. I have thought about trying something else. My confidence takes a beating sometimes. I even murmured something close to that to my agent who threatened me bodily harm if I even thought of not writing.

    But I didn’t mean it. I will always write because I love to. And yes, I do sometimes have to remind myself of that fact. But usually that light bulb flash of a really cool scene does all the reminding for me. 🙂

    Aw Kaz, you have helped me keep my chin up for years now. You’re priceless.

    Libby, I’m answering your email now. 🙂

  7. Brian says:

    Wonderful post. I feel the exact same way… and I look forward to reading your short story very soon.

  8. Gillian G says:

    Thank you for this post! I’m the sort that either jumps to the very best or very worst scenarios, so it’s good to know the truth about what to expect. I’m looking forward to reading your story soon!

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  10. relliott4 says:

    Hi Brian! I’m still enjoying the posts about your kids. I’m constantly reminded of when mine were that age. My oldest is graduating next week, so love every moment because it goes fast. 🙂

    Gillian, I once had a teacher in high school call me an alarmist, so I get that. heh heh The best thing a writer can have is a great support system. I have so many who do believe and help me keep my chin up.

    Another good thing is to go into the submission process with realistic expectations. We are working alone so our work is at the top of our thoughts all the time. Editors are reading thousands of manuscripts, so we are but a spot to them. So, we hone our craft so we can hopefully be one of those spots that doesn’t rub out of their minds no matter what.

  11. I’m learning to keep my mouth shut on these things, at least around non-writers. They don’t understand how long publishing takes, and when they ask “How’s the book doing?” I feel like such a loser when I have to tell them I’m still working on revisions or we’re waiting to hear back from editors. I know my friends are just curious and excited, but they just don’t get it and it takes way too long to explain.

    I sometimes have to retreat from the internet when I hear about auctions or authors selling debuts within days or weeks. I *know* that’s not usually how it happens, but I can’t help wondering what I’m doing wrong. Which is silly, lol, because there’s nothing I can do at this moment. Well, except writer another book. 🙂

    Great, great post!

  12. relliott4 says:

    It isn’t silly at all, Sandy. I’m very happy to read about sales-especially when I know the writers, but it does get to me sometimes. When that happens, I take a Twitter and Google Reader break, back off and regroup. I wonder what I’m doing wrong, if I should write about something commercially easier… but I ALWAYS get my gumption back and remember that I am really thrilled for them and that those sales mean editors are buying books.

    The emotional ups and downs in this are something, eh? Those of us who fall down, get up, brush the dust off our legs and keep going are the ones who will make it. I still believe that.

  13. Kathleen says:

    Go Rinda!! Success will be all the sweeter. Great post, good for all of us to remember.

  14. Calisa says:

    Oh, Rinda, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Scary because that also means I am in the same boat. Waiting, writing, hoping, writing, speaking too soon, writing, hoping. And of course, there’s the hubby who says “Just mail that rejected one to someone else”. Umm, hello, there’s a reason, and I have to admit it’s a very good reason, why that very first ms was rejected. Nobody worth their weight will publish it. Not yet, anyway.
    But, like you, that doesn’t dampen my love and hopes for writing a hit one day that everybody will want!
    Keep going Rinda. Today it’s an anthology. Tomorrow–the WORLD!!!

  15. Hang in there, you WILL make it, probably before the rest of us, but it will be bigger and better. Love you

  16. lynn says:

    That sucks about the support drying up, but hang in there. You’ve got a lot of people who believe in you and your talent. Including me! And, probably more importantly, your agent 🙂 The struggle will make success taste all the sweeter when it happens.

  17. relliott4 says:

    You know me, Jackie-I will continue to rock on. Love the story telling too much to ever stop. 😉

    Hi Kathleen. Thank you.

    Calisa, keep at it. The husbands do have times when they get frustrated. It can’t be helped. They watch us do this thing with nothing but hope and let’s face it, it’s already tough being married to or living with a writer. We are, more often than not, only partly here. Part of our mind is in La La Land. That’s what my hubs calls it. heh

    Love you, too, Carol. You and the other ladies of Romance Ink are a huge part of my positive support system. 🙂

    Lynn!!! I’m still thrilled over your recent announcement! I’ve been keeping up with your agent submissions and hurting along with you. I will say this. I hope you get one of the whirlwind follow ups.

  18. lynn says:

    Aw thanks Rinda! I am still crossing my fingers for you every day, and I hope when my book goes on submission (I’ve got revisions to do first though, so no whirlwinds for me!) I’m as graceful under pressure as you are 🙂

  19. Jen says:

    Rinda, this was a great post. Thank you.

  20. relliott4 says:

    Welcome from one author on sub to another. Dealing with that hope daily gets tough, doesn’t it?

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