WMBTSG Day Twenty-one (Post a comment to this post to enter the drawing)

OkWelcome to day twenty-one of the Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. Today’s giveaway is a doozey. It’s the 2009 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market by Rachel McDonald.

How exciting after all of that fiction talk we’ve had all week. 🙂

This year’s Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market will help you get your work polished and on its way to the agent or editor perfectly suited to publish what you write. Our 2009 edition is completely revised, updated and contains hundreds of articles and interviews, plus over 1,100 listings for literary agents, book publishers, magazines, online markets, writing contests and conferences. Tabs identify each section to make it easy to find just the information you need. Listings contain current information including e-mail addresses, specific contact names, publisher’s tips, in depth submission guidelines, pay rates (if given) and easy-to-use reference icons that offer even more details about the agency or publishing house who may be interested in representing or buying what you’ve written.


Today’s question:

Okay, back to business. How do you feel when it comes time to submit your ficition to real-live editors and agents? Do you feel confident, professional and prepared and ready to partner as an equal? Or if you feel differently, please describe.

If this is your first post in the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

You may post your comments until midnight PST on September 21th.


30 Responses to “WMBTSG Day Twenty-one (Post a comment to this post to enter the drawing)”

  1. 1 Amber September 21, 2008 at 7:07 am

    I haven’t submitted anything to an agent so I’ll comment on editors.

    Even though the fate of my submitted work is in their hands I feel no intimidation sending my work off to editors. I am looking for the best possible home for my work and want it to be appreciated. The last thing I want is for them to choose it because they feel sorry for me. They are looking for the best of their most recent submissions.

    If they pass on mine I don’t take it personally. What they put in their magazine is the best they were able to find or was different from what they last published. They want a variety of stories and if they get one great story about motherhood for six consecutive months they can’t publish all six even if they are the best.

  2. 2 rowena September 21, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Publishing, submitting, getting out there… that is the area of writing that I am least accomplished in. I always feel like I am not good enough. I know it’s all in my head. I know it’s one of those demons that gets in the way of being a writer. I know it’s just about getting yourself out there, getting used to rejection and trying again, but I have always turned to tackle some other issue of writing than publishing.

    I am glad that I gave my writing time to develop, but I still have to spend the time and energy on the business end of writing, and that includes getting published. This is the next mountain to climb as I continue on in my writing. It’s strange that it takes such different skills than the actual writing. And I have to figure those skills out.

  3. 3 anniegirl1138 September 21, 2008 at 7:32 am

    I am always quite pleased with myself and my effort by the time a story is ready to be submitted. However, I am not sure I feel equal in the process because the process goes on out of sight and feels largely shrouded and out of reach. In other words, how can it be equal when there is no give and take?

    Of course I am a newbie. Perhaps established writers are not told to “go away kid and we’ll call you when/if we need you”. The submissions process just seems very far away and mysterious though I have encountered those editors who welcome email during the vetting process and don’t find my need to know status an intrusion.

    Professionally, I don’t know what I am supposed to feel like. When I taught, I taught and the idea that I was professional never occurred to me. I was a teacher and I assumed that my actions, knowledge, skill set and work spoke for me.

  4. 4 Teresa Hall September 21, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Well, this one is easy for me. How do I feel about submitting my fiction to an editor? Terrified! In fact, it’s been such a scary process to me that I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it yet. I have no problem as far as my non-fiction; I feel pretty secure about that, but when it comes to fiction, I just can’t seem to get myself rolling. I don’t know quite why this hurdle is so tough, but hey, maybe today will be the day!

  5. 5 Judy September 21, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I find submitting a little overwhelming. I am just a student at this point and there is so much to learn and absorb. I realise the more I submit, the more confident I will be. I have only submitted non-fiction, except for one poem… It’s not the editors that scare me, it’s the wondering if I matched myself with magazine. How my piece will be viewed by them. What will they think?

  6. 6 christinajclark September 21, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I have dealt with many editors in my life so, I’m not so scared of them anymore. I think if you can learn to not take it so personally, you can receive the editing a lot better.

    Editors are very receptive to someone who can take the ideas/critiques and run with them, improving the piece and then returning it with a smile.

    Yes, it hurts sometimes to have our words switched around or our ideas questioned or marked “unclear”. But, the editor did not sit at his or her desk and decide to do this to hurt your feelings. So, if you take it in a good way, make the changes or give valid reasons why you don’t think it works and do it all with a good attitude, you’ll be well on your way to a good relationship with your editor.

  7. 7 alirambles September 21, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Several agents invited me to send partials of my manuscript a year ago (at a conference), but I wasn’t emotionally ready to put it out there. I wasn’t even sure I ever would want to. So, I sat on it. Kept taking chapter after chapter to my critique group, kept polishing. Realized the structure needed some tweaking. Now I’m emotionally read to send it out there, but I’m working on the structure with the help of a new-to-me teacher, and I hope by the end of that process I’ll be able to send it out feel confident, professional, and prepared.

  8. 8 Angie Goodloe September 21, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I have been reading Steven King’s book about writing. He said (totally paraphrasing) that when he first started submitting he had a nail sticking out of the wall he would slap all his rejection letters on- he had a heaping stack of letters hanging off that nail. So he submitted quite a few stories before any got accepted. This of course makes me feel great.
    I have no experience at all whatsoever submitting fiction. I have been reading all I can get my hands on about the process. We will see what happens.

  9. 9 nathalie September 21, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I feel like I can’t wait for the first “yes” and I can’t get that unless I keep going. I’ve had a lot of work published but none of it my fiction which is where I’m most invested in mind and spirit but that is not reflected in my work habits. My work habits are about scoring the next paid gig. When I got rejected the by the first agent I ever sent my work too I was totally bummed and also felt like I had proof that I was trying and that means a lot to me. I am ready to try harder, smarter … as far as how I feel about sending my work out to agents and editors, well, I think it’s kind of like being with a new lover – only no creative pillow placement – totally raw, totally vulnerable … but also exciting.

  10. 10 kmcdade September 21, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve submitted fiction exactly once. And I haven’t heard back about it yet. I felt pretty confident in my story, although not entirely sure it was good enough (it’s a children’s story that I submitted to a contest). I do feel confident in my ability to interact with editors in a professional manner, though — especially since I’ve had my first published non-fiction articles. I no longer feel like an inferior newbie.

  11. 11 Stefanie September 21, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Gulp! Most of my current writing is for a very narrow niche, and I have been working with many of the same people for 2 or 3 years so I feel fairly comfortable submitting to them. However, I am getting ready to branch out quite a bit and explore other markets. I get sick to my stomach even thinking about submitting to someone who isn’t familiar with my work or reputation in my narrow field. Time to develop that thick skin.

  12. 12 Stephanie Craig September 21, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    My first couple of fiction stories were harshly torn apart. I felt horrible, like I could never be a good writer. I took some time away and regrouped. I realized that what was said about them was correct and it wasn’t criticism, but ways for me to improve.

    I now feel confident as I work on my next couple of short stories and my novel outline. I am a better writer because of it. That being said, I still don’t feel like an equal because I am still so new to the fiction field (I have some non-fiction work under my belt). I think I will feel like an equal once I get a fiction story or two published.

  13. 13 Celestial Goldfish September 21, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Real-live agents and editors scare me because I want to fulfill their expectations. The real-dead ones, well, that would be a bad slush pile to be stuck in, wouldn’t it?

    I have OCD so I want things to be perfect. I try and follow all guidelines to the smallest detail, but I’m always terrified of forgetting something or erring or having a bad typo. It usually takes me an hour at minimum to get the nerve to press SEND or seal the envelope, even with all the prep work done.

    At my writer’s conference earlier this year, I was just getting over being ill earlier in the week. When my nerves kicked in before my agent pitch appointment, I began to lose my voice again. I made it through the appointment and was successful – I had a partial request! – but I was popping cough drops and had a voice like tires on gravel. I guess losing my voice is a better nervous response than nausea, but it made it all the more stressful.

  14. 14 writethejourney September 21, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Oooh…you just lost me. I have not submitted anything yet but let’s just imagine that I have. Here’s how I feel: the first book I am understandably nervous and a little over-eager. I am proud of the work I’ve done and want to feel I am on equal footing with the agent but wonder constantly whether or not s/he will see any merit in my work. But it goes well and so I gain confidence. By the time I’m submitting my second, third and fourth novels, I feel confident and also have enough experience that I now share a vocabulary and common goal with my agent or publisher. I imagine this is pretty close to the mark for me, at least as I imagine it now!

  15. 15 Rosemary Lombard September 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Since I’ve written only one story that’s even partly fiction, I don’t feel deeply invested. When the topic of the story matched a requested journal topic–at least peripherally–I sent it off cheerfully, with the expectation that it would not appear. That’s still hanging but not much on my mind.
    My book, based on a 30-year investment in research, is a different matter. When awaiting word back, I noticed how there was some heavier thumping going on in the left side of my chest as I scanned the new e-mail. Nevertheless, I feel quite confident. Even though this is my first book, I’ve had editing classes, have done quite a bit of editing myself, and have worked back and forth very pleasantly with editors; so the process is not entirely new. My newly acquired agent has already suggested some new emphases that will improve the book. I just hope she can place it with an editor who doesn’t try to remake it to the degree that it is no longer true to the story.

  16. 16 Cile September 21, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    My “fiction” book is added to sporadically and is hibernating on a little gadget that keeps it safe. I feel confident that it will be published when I complete it and remove it from its cocoon. Health care, or lack of, affects us all, thus the story is expected to have public appeal.

    As a writer who worked many years as a nurse I hesitate to put myself on the firing line. Perhaps that’s why the story of a work- weary nurse and the incredible patients she works with hangs embedded on that little gadget on a long chain. But, if one of the editors in the 2009 Novel and Short Story Market gave me a deadline…

  17. 17 Meryl K. Evans September 21, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I would be prepared for an answer that goes either way. It helps to know that publishers rejected very successful authors many times before they finally got published. Different publishers see different things when reading a manuscript. Undoubtedly, I’d be anxious for the response and it’d help slow down time, which goes too fast.

  18. 18 Sarah K. September 21, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    I love writing and I love that I am writer! However, there is one major aspect of being a writer that I do not like – submitting my work. I would say when it comes to submissions I lose my confidence completely and definitely do not feel myself an equal with an editor. The crazy thing is that I put so much preparation into my work, but when it comes time to submit it then I completely doubt myself and try to chicken out. However, I have finally taken the leap and have begun submitting some of my writing. (Keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂

  19. 19 Cara September 21, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    My very first submission was a letter to the editor, which was published intact, the very next day. Flush with success, I fired off a fiction story to a writing contest, only to be met with my first rejection letter. I guess I should have saved it for posterity, so that someday when my pieces are getting accepted on a regular basis, I can look back on it and laugh. Alas, I did not have foresight, and that letter was a victim of the shredder.

    More recently, I have experienced mixed success with my submissions. My acceptance ratio is hovering somewhere around .315, which if I was a major league ball player would be considered pretty good I guess, and it’s increasing all the time. Does that mean I have become a better writer? Well, I hope it’s a little of that, but also, I think I have become far more savvy about matching my writings to my intended market! If I learned one thing from listening to Samantha Ducloux Waltz speak today, it is that rejection is part of the process. That’s good to know!

  20. 20 writerinspired September 21, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    In the past, I was only submitting my fiction to fiction contests. There’s a problem in that because the “editors” or judges are looking for something very specific or to their taste. And perhaps the competition is that much more fierce going against numerous stories all on similar themes.
    However, I recommend submitting fiction if you’ll be getting a critique back from the editors. I sent in the first chapter of my novel (for a contest) but the entry fee provided 3 professional critiques.
    Ugh! the comments were harsh and my stomach just bottomed out as I read them. I put the thing in a drawer for a few weeks. When I braved a second look, I had to be honest with myself. Their comments were very valid and I hope with the changes, my chapter will be tighter and more focused.

    Until I get more experience submitting and being rejected (and accepted!) I will not feel as if I’m on equal playing ground with editors or agents.

  21. 21 Adrienne September 21, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I wouldn’t say I feel intimidated about submitting fiction, but I do feel that I somehow missing the boat. I use the same skills in submitting my fiction as I do in non-fiction (researching the magazines, reading sample stories, following the guidelines to the T even though that can get SO nit-picky…). I’m used to a mix of rejections and acceptances in my non-fiction, but all I get with the fiction are rejections. Sometimes I get editors’ comments back and those are always “we liked this but…” or “well written but just didn’t grab us…” or “caught our eye but didn’t get enough votes…” Lots of times all I get are the silent but professional rejections (“thanks for submitting but…”).

    It’s an odd situation for me. I feel I present my work professionally and I have enough non-fiction publications to be seen as someone who can deliver a properly prepared manuscript, finish revisions on time, and do any other needed work that occurs between acceptances and publication. But clearly, the fiction is missing the mark. It’s kind-of-sort-of-maybe getting attention, but there’s some element that’s missing, and I’m too new to fiction writing to figure out what it is. Sometimes I get the sense the story isn’t quite finished, but I truly don’t know where else to go with it, even if I put it aside for long periods of time. When that happens, I send it out. I’ve learned with the non-fiction that sometimes what I send may be just what an editor wants even it it doesn’t seem perfect to me. And that my evaluation of my work can be too harsh due to my immersion in it.

    I would love to crack the fiction nut. I’m not there yet, but I want to be. I feel a creative pride with fiction that I don’t feel with non-fiction, namely that I made something up entirely from my imagination. Sometimes it amazes me that I can be so creative, and other times, I simply want to learn what elements are missing from my short stories so that I can start having the joy of publication.

  22. 22 karen September 21, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Bundle of nerves. I just gave someone some advice the other day about hitting the send button regardless of how scared you are, and I remembered something about “Black, kettle, pot.” Not necesarily in that order. I haven’t reached a point where I haven’t been nervous, even about a finished assignment. I hope I never do.

  23. 23 Laura September 21, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Submitting my writings to an editor or anyone is like sending your children off on the big yellow bus on the first day of school. I’m proud that they are ready to head off into the world, but yet I worry. Will they make friends? What will the editor/teachers think of them? Did I prepare them enough? Are they truly ready? Will they return with a gold star, or be forgotten on the back of the bus?

    I have only submitted non-fiction, thus far, as I am still trying to learn to write fiction. However, through the ‘conversations’ on this site, reading everyone’s responses, and delving within myself for answers to the various questions, I’ve realized that I am nervous about submissions. Ok, downright scared…. But in this community of writers, I’m finding the courage to keep trying, both in submitting, and in trying my hand at writing fiction.

  24. 24 Cathy September 21, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Maybe because I am an older writer/mom I don’t worry too much about submitting my fiction (or a query for non-fiction, or a contest entry, etc.). Either the editor will like it (Wheee!)or he/she won’t (Not a wheee!). If I get a rejection, I’ll give the piece another look-see, maybe tweak it a little, and submit again.

    There are worse things than a “no” from an editor. In fact, a “no” from an editor doesn’t even make the top ten on my list…but then, I have quite an imagination 🙂

  25. 25 christi September 21, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I’ll admitt- I feel differently about submitting nonfiction and fiction. Perhaps it is because I am still so new to all this. Nonfiction feels more like a conversation. If somebody doesn’t like my point of view or disagrees on my take on how to do something, I’m not so hurt. It’s just my idea. I can separate that from myself and I recognize that the editor is trying to meet specific needs. But when I write fiction, I feel a certain connection to my creation. It’s more of a “love me, love my baby” kind of feeling. But I’m sure I’ll get over it.

  26. 26 elizaj September 21, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    It’s always amazing to hear about the rejections very famous authors had to wade through before becoming, well, very famous authors!

    Kate DiCamillo’s collected nearly 400 rejection letters before she got published.

    “I decided a long time ago,” DiCamillo says, “that I didn’t have to be talented. I just had to be persistent.”

    I have never gotten a piece of fiction writing far enough to be at the “submitting” stage but KD’s words and experience buoy me up and are an inspiration for the future.

  27. 27 Katrina September 21, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I’ve submitted a short story once and got back a wonderful rejection that a writer friend called a “near miss.” My problem is I’m having such fun with the non-fiction that I don’t make time for the fiction. I suppose that’s a good problem to have, except I really like some of my fiction ideas and want to develop them. Never submitted to agents, and have only the one experience with editors mentioned above. When I sent the piece out I was arrogantly confident that it was the greatest thing they would ever see. As time passed I downgraded to down-right good, then okay, then “Great scott! I can’t believe I let that thing see daylight!” By the time the rejection letter arrived, enough time had passed and enough other projects had passed through my fingers, that it didn’t really bother me. I was glad to have received a response at all, so many will leave you in limbo.

  28. 28 Mar Junge, c3PR September 21, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I write about being errror free, and being confident, then miss a few in my own post. Here’s the typo-free version:

    There’s a difference between submitting your fiction to editors who did not ask you to send it to them, and submitting it to agents. An agent is on your side. If your fiction is not ready for prime time, most agents won’t take you on. If your manuscript is marketable, a reputable agent will let you know. A good agent will submit your fiction only to editors whom they believe will be interested in your work.

    If you’ve taken every step to make sure your manuscript is of the highest quality possible… if it’s been through editing and critique groups… if you and your agent are confident it is marketable…then you have nothing to fear. You’ve done your homework. You’ve used constructive criticism to make improvements to the content. If other professionals agree you have a saleable manuscript, and you believe beyond any doubt that you’ve got a good product, it’s just a matter of time until you find the right agent who finds the right editor.

    Writing fiction may be an art, but publishing is a business. Learn the business and you’ll find a way to get published.

  29. 29 Elizabeth September 22, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I feel as if I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to find an agent, so when I submit to or speak to an agent, I feel as if they hold all the cards and the knowledge. Editors (both for fiction and non-fiction work) I do feel confident, professional and prepared and ready to partner as an equal. But sometimes I think with an agent, there is just some mystery and they have the answer to it…and /i remain uninitiated.


  1. 1 WMBTSG Day Twenty-One: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 22, 2008 at 9:52 pm
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