But then the next stage of angst starts. The wait. It could be days, weeks, months. Previously, a rejection was always preempted by that rather particular and distinct thwack as your returned, possibly unread, MSS hits the floor having been forced through the letter box by a potentially grumpy postman. These days it is almost more tortuous. As with every PING - 'you've got mail!' has the potential to end your dreams. But it is not the end of your dreams. It might be a hiccup in them but it might also just be a....'could we see more.' You just never know and you need to be prepared. It will happen, have faith.
Going back to making that decision when to submit there is actually always that risk that you don't get round to submitting because you keep thinking 'I will just give it one more proof read, edit, polish, rewrite, then it'll be ready.' Sometimes you have to be brave and let it go. It feels a bit like leaving your child on their first day at school, you don't know what's happening. Do they like it? Do they hate? Are they just sitting in the corner waiting (to be read)? But it is all part of being a writer. Perhaps there is a masochistic streak in all writers and that's why we do it.
Having listened to several agents and publishers and their thoughts on submissions I would like to give you some things to think about when submitting.
1. Read the Writers & Artists Year Book (other books are available). If in there (or on their website - another good place to check) it says they are not receiving unsolicited or unagented MSS. That does apply to YOU. They won't make a special case just because it is you. UNLESS they have personally invited you to submit in which case you need to state this clearly in your letter.
2. Read their submission guidelines. These are available on agents websites. Read them and adhere to them. Your story is not ready if you think you have to attach an extra couple of chapters because the story doesn't get going until then and they will miss your favourite bit. If they want a two page synopsis - don't send them a ten page one because you can't get it into two (and in the meantime read Nicola Morgan's excellent book on how to write a synopsis)
3. Now this is a tip coming from me, but am sure a few agents and publishers might agree so thought I would add it in. It is something I come across when marking, which I see as a kind of practice submission. (And obviously applies when submitting hard copy) Do not leave your MSS in your kitchen where you are cooking highly aromatic dishes(can you call cottage pie and chips aromatic?). It is revolting to have that smell waft at you the whole time you are reading and you turn a page. Do not let your cat/dog/child walk over it leaving muddy paw prints, however cute they are. The same with coffee or tea or unmentionable and indefinable stains.
Don't think you are safe when submitting on line - make sure you have removed track changes and comments. It is amazing what you can find out when someone hasn't!
4. And going back to point one really. If a publisher or agent has invited you to submit make sure you address it to them and mention in the letter that they had invited you. Saying where and when you met and the invited was handed out is always a good bet in order to jog their memory. However, memorable you think you are you have to remember they see lots of people.
OK that's it, 4 Ness tips to help you with that angst moment of sending your work off. Go on, be brave, you can do it. You never know what might happen and good luck with it.
Happy Weekend and here's a piece of music because I always tried to play my guitar like this...and failed. Carlos Bonell and Strawberry Fields