Thursday, August 9, 2012

Breaking Down the Submission Process

This is a blog entry for RJ Scott's anniversary blog hop! 
Congrats to RJ Scott for being in the business (and surviving and thriving!) for two years. 
I bet there will be many more years to come. 
Even with three books available, one more on the way, and another at the publisher waiting for an answer, I don’t feel like I should be giving advice to inspiring authors because I still feel like the newbiest of newbs. If there’s a magical number I must achieve before I feel like a professional author, I sure haven’t reached it yet. But I'm still going to try to help a brand new author along.

My start in writing isn’t all too inspiring. I have no long history of writing or literary pursuits outside of casual reading enjoyment. I had an online friend who talked me into role-playing back in or around 2005. When I turned one into a story, she encouraged me to post it on a yaoi forum. (aarinfantasy) There I fed off of the comments left for me to correct my grammar and plot errors. I wrote more stories and got better as I went. Eventually I had readers and friends suggesting I try to get published. So I did. And you can too!
“But Hayley, I don’t even know where commas go.”
It helps to be a grammar, punctuation, and spelling nerd but it isn’t a requirement. I’d be screwed if it was. If you’re going the self-published route, hire a professional editor to correct your work to avoid giving aneurisms to your readers. If you’re going to a publisher, trust in their editor, but spot check your work to the best of your ability before submitting to avoid giving your editor an aneurism. You do not have to be perfect. (But please try real hard at perfection if you self-publish.)

The submission process can be daunting. You visit the publisher’s website and it looks so sleek and professional and suddenly you feel in adequate and close the window without doing what you went there to do. Buck up, little writer. The worst thing you’ll get is a rejection reply which isn’t as bad as it sounds. Rejection will sting, but the problem might not be your writing. Timing is important too. If you submit a vampire story to a publisher who isn’t interested in accepting one more damn vampire story, it will be rejected without being opened. Usually the publisher’s submission page will include a note of wanted genres. Pay attention. But on that note, if one publisher isn’t interested in your story, it doesn’t mean the others will turn it down.

Most publishers will include some sort of explanation with a rejection. If they point out a concern in your story/plot/prose, take that as advice and fix the manuscript before trying again. And do try again. Roll with the blows. Learn from mistakes. But most of all, don’t forget your love for writing—that’s why you’re there emailing publishers at one in the morning anyway.

Finally, write for the love and fun of turning your ideas into a story for others to enjoy too and not for the belief that you’ll make millions of dollars. You probably won’t make enough money to replace a day job and you might not come onto the romance scene with an explosion. You’ll be disappointed if you think you’ll reach stardom or a thick bank account just with one book. (It happens but you might need the Twilight fandom to back you to reach it.)

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll describe how to submit a manuscript. This is an example based off of only ONE publisher’s website requirements at the time of this blog entry. Be sure to read and reread the requirements on your publisher of choice--including the publisher I'm using for my example because things can change.

Step one: Visit the publisher’s site and find the “submissions” area.
Step two: Read. Read it all. Read what genres the publisher has a call for. Read whether or not the publisher wants full or partial manuscripts submitted. Read what auto-rejection the publisher has—if any. (example: incest or rape)
Step three: Find the list of requirements for submission and double check you’re prepared to submit your manuscript.
Example of requirements:
·         Your legal name, pseudonym if applicable, and contact e-mail address.
·         Working title, series name if applicable.
·         Genre and manuscript length.
·         General story description in two paragraphs.
·         Writing credentials.
Step four: Find the submission email address and open your email client.
Step five: Fill out those requirements from step three. Be courteous and professional. Unsure about a pen name? That’s okay. I changed mine after my first manuscript was accepted. I’m sure it’s better to have one picked out so do try to have one ready. Scared about that last question because you lack experience? That’s okay too. Everyone starts at the bottom. Those writing credentials can be left blank, filled out with self-published novels, or previous published works.
This is an example of my latest accepted submission: (only use as an example--I am not an expert here. This is just what I put. I'm using Dreamspinner Press for this example.)
Legal name: Hayley AwesomeLastNameOfAwesome
Pen name: Hayley B. James
Contact email: hayley.b.james

Working title: Water Waltz
Series: Water WaltzGenre: Fantasy (demons & angels)
Length: (do a word count using your program of choice) 79,225 words
General story: Triste is an angel working as a butler for Varun, his ex-lover. Humans are used in the angel and demon countries as sex dolls. Varun is employed by a secret organization to save any smuggled human and punish the one inflicting harm. He's warned a human is set to be killed by his organization so he hides him in his own home. they discover through this human—with ties deep inside the royal family—a conflict is stirring between the two countries, Varun and Triste set out to calm the waters of war.

Triste and Varun are still in love but an unknown event keeps them apart. When the threat of conflict twists into something far worse and Triste's life is threatened, Varun risks everything to protect him and uncovers the reason why Triste had left him heartbroken two years prior. 
Writing credentials: I have 2 published works through Dreamspinner Press.
(Don't forget to attach the full manuscript)
Step six: Send your email and wait. The most stressful part of the submission process is the waiting, so distract yourself by writing your next story!

Good luck submitting your manuscript. I look forward to reading you. Leave a comment with any questions you might have about publishing, or any advice you might have.

Visit the other authors in the blog hop (below) to read more helpful articles! Also!!! Visit the author resources Facebook page for MORE FUN and AWESOME!!! Seriously. Visit it right here~


  1. hi i have a question for it hard to face rejection from a publisher?


    1. Hi Laurie,
      I'd love to say no but that would be a lie. It stings but as Barbara stated below, what doesn't work for one publisher might work for another. Some publishers might include a reason with the rejection like the ending didn't work for them. Others will straight up decline without a reason. It's like being broken up with over text message. Ouch. But just like when someone breaks your heart, you pull it together and find the next one. :)

  2. Very useful tips there! I'll add my comment to Laurie too, if I may, Hayley. Yes, it is hard. It never fails to hurt no matter what stage you're at in your writing career but what doesn't work for one publisher, might well work for another. The really hard thing is having no feedback as to why you might have been rejected. That's where beta readers and crit partners who aren't related to you!!! - can help.

    1. Thanks Barbara! Having a beta reader has always helped me picked out parts in a manuscript I need to work on. I probably should have suggested that in my I thought writing about submission process would be simple but once I started writing I realized it wasn't simple at all. LOL.

  3. Thanks for the great post! I don't write but it is nice to learn how hard you all work to get your books out to us! Makes me appreciate them that much more!

  4. I've enjoyed the beta reading I have done and would hope that I had helped with my input. I would think just having an extra non biased set of eyes an asset ;)


  5. Thanks for the post, and the kitten is gorgeous btw.

  6. Good advice. Grammar, spelling and construction issues can sometimes halt my reading and I can't get past it. Maybe I should be an editor.

  7. I really like this post...thank you...I've learned so much today!

  8. Great post...learning a lot with this blog! I hope it helps aspiring authors! The only thing I write is college papers...and not happily LOL

  9. Thanks for your post! I once (for like 2 days) thought I could write a erotic romance... Wrong! I have a ton of random stories in my head, kinda like a tv show playing at all times, but no true drive to write it down into something cohesive. But I still looked up the submission guidelines, to Dreamspinner oddly enough, and thought they were so intimidating! And I wasn't a person that had already poured myself into a manuscript! So hats off to you and anyone else that sees those guidelines and says "I can do this."
    OcceanAkers @

  10. "Distract yourself by writing your next story." I love that piece of advice! :-D

  11. Thx for the post Hayley!


    Great advice

  12. Thanks for sharing and the example!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.