The Online Oxford English Dictionary has a few definitions of the word “Submission.”


One of those definitions is:


“The action of presenting a proposal, application, or other document for consideration or judgement:”


When your book is sent to a publisher, it’s called a “submission” in line with the definition above - i.e. you’re presenting your manuscript for consideration.


There are, however, other definitions. For example;


The action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person”


On darker days, it can feel like this second definition of submission better represents what you’re actually doing – i.e. once you’ve sent your book, you’ve surrendered control over its fate to a higher power.  From being in a godlike position – able to change the world at will via a painstaking process of drafting and editing, altering the world, the characters etc to make it as good as you possibly can, now you have surrendered that control.  Before, you decided everything. Now, you have to wait and then accept what is eventually decided.  You don’t have control now – they do.


Sometimes this fear of losing control, of giving up their power over the book can prevent people sending their book out at all. After all, you can maintain control forever if you don’t send it anywhere.  But if you want to see it in print; if you want others to read it, then you have to do this. 


Worse still for your inner control freak, you’ll then have to accept (horror of horrors!) criticism and editorial advice. Of course any writer worth their salt realises that accepting editing advice and listening to criticism (if it’s constructive) isn’t about relinquishing control – it’s about accepting help. Most writers will never believe that their book is perfect – even after all the polishing and editing, they’re riddled with insecurity and self-doubt about their own work, regardless of what others may say. If you if your book isn’t picked up, you often hear no reason, but sometimes you’ll receive editorial advice that proves invaluable, because you may not be able to see the wood for the trees and others, particularly publishing industry people, can point out things you might miss. 


Ok.  So you’ve accepted the loss of control.  You’ve presented your labour of love for judgement.  Despite your having even reached this stage being an achievement in itself, it’s often hard to feel that way and easy to become despondent.  Your book; the thing you’ve poured all your creative energy into is gone.  After immersing yourself in it and its characters, you can’t do anything more with it.  Waiting can feel like torture and despite the fact you know that editors are incredibly busy and may take weeks to get to your manuscript, - probably one of dozens or even hundreds they’ve received, you can easily obsess over what’s happening – checking email dozens of times a day, imagining the worst and the best alternately until you drive yourself nuts.


The best way I’ve discovered to cope with this (and I’ve had good advice on this from my agent and others I trust) is to start work on something else. 

Not a sequel, but something new.  (I wrote half of a Pandora Wolfe sequel before learned this was a bad idea – editorial advice on the first book resulted in changes that meant most of the sequel work was a waste of time.)


It can feel like a wrench, moving to a new story while you’re waiting to see how your baby does at the publishers – even a little bit like betrayal – like you’ve given up on your book.  But that’s not what it is.  Unless you intend to be stuck writing the same story forever and the book you’ve sent off is the only thing you ever want to do, then you need to move on – get other irons in the fire, keep your hand in.  Even if your new work goes nowhere and the book you submitted is picked up and the publishers want sequels straight away – you’ll learn something, you’ll improve your skill as a writer and most importantly, you’ll lessen that powerless feeling while you’re waiting.  It also gives you hope that if your first book never finds a publisher, you will have something else to pin your hopes on.  Hey, you might even write a better book, you never know.


Now Pandora Wolfe is out on submission and I’m awaiting the outcome. Of course (hopefully) I might hear something positive from a publisher soon, which means I’ll stop working on the new book and go back to editing Pandora or working on the sequel, but it’s more likely to take weeks if not months to hear anything and in that time, I could have a whole first draft of a new book written.  So until I hear back from the publishers, I’ve started on a new project – another Middle Grade book – this one with more of a sci-fi theme (think Fringe, rather than Star Trek).  I’m only three weeks into it and I’ve written about 25% of the first draft, so yay - go me.


Whatever happens, I’ll keep you updated – hopefully more frequently now that I’ve got something new on the go.  TTFN.