What to Do When on Submission
Updated: Dec 19, 2021
I'm cheating a bit for this month's tip and recycling an oldie but a goodie that I originally posted on Literary Carrie 1.0!
Every year, I do annual strategy session calls with my authors to talk about goals and our plan for the year ahead. Most of the time, when I chat with new clients, one of the things they always want to ask about is what to do when on submission, which is what I answer in this month's tip!
First off, being on submission, while exciting, involves A LOT of waiting. I cannot stress that enough. Every agent has a different procedure, but I usually do monthly check-ins with editors until I get either an offer or everyone in the round passes. That can take a month. It can also be closer to the amount of time it takes to have a baby. And if everyone in that round ends up rejecting the manuscript, then you have to revise and send out again to a new round. I had one project on submission for almost three years before we got an offer.
While you are in submission limbo, rather than working on the sequel to the project currently on submission (which I don't recommend in case Book 1 doesn't sell), I usually suggest a combination of these options:
1. Put together 1-page outlines for sequels to your on-sub project in case they are needed by editors.
2. Focus on building your network and author brand, e.g. engage in social media, develop your platform, etc.).
3. Start drafting new manuscript ideas to share with your agent so that you have a next project ready to go if your on-sub project doesn't pan out.
The hardest thing to accept about being on submission as an author is that there isn't much for you to do/you have to step back. Thinking about a new manuscript and putting on your business hat are good ways to stay productive as you wait, but what this list basically boils down to is...
4. Try to forget about being on sub so that you don't go insane. 😐