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. ;)

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