In my back story, that is.
Because I realized, hey, I’m about go on sub again–ack–and you guys don’t even know about the very first time I was on sub.
But before I go back down the tunnel of years (violin chords now, for this is a tale of some melodrama, at least it feels that way) I have to ask a question. How many people know what it means to be on sub?
I had occasion to ask this question at a terrific writers conference the other day and found that many writers–even those submerged in the process of querying agents–don’t actually know.
Quick digression. The good people at New York Writers Workshop have allowed me for the third time to present a short unit at the start of their Pitch & Shop.
I attended the Pitch & Shop a little over a year and a half ago, and for my money it’s the best conference out there for those who are focused on getting published (as opposed to on honing craft–the other excellent purpose of a writers conference). It led directly to my signing with my agent.
Which is exactly what I talk about at the conference, in addition to how best to navigate the pitch sessions.
You can attend the NYWW version of the Pitch & Shop or the Algonkian version and they each have a slightly different feel to them and different approaches to instruction, but both boast the genius that allows students to bypass the querying process–for a time–and meet actual acquisition editors.
Plus you get a great pitch out of the whole deal, and I believe that is the true gold in this experience.
Anyway…long digression…I’m going to write the steps to being on sub here seeing as they really are pretty esoteric unless you’ve actually been through the process yourself.
Caveat: the following applies to having your ms submitted to the major New York publishing houses (and a handful of independents who prefer to work with agents).
1) Sign with agent
2) Agent sends pitch letter to editors
3) Agent sends ms to editors
4) Editors put your ms in a queue to read
5) Editors read
6) Editors read (sorry, this part takes a while)
Now it could go in one of three directions. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure.
Hint: Choose #7
7) Editor(s) like ms
8 ) Editor(s) have suggestions for revision
9) Editor(s) pass on ms
If it’s 7) this is what has to happen next…
Exception–if your ms has been subbed to the publisher of an imprint s/he can bypass at least 10)
10) Editor(s) give ms to colleagues at house and get everyone to agree it’s worth acquiring
11) Marketing and other departments also agree
12) Publisher agrees
And 13) Offer is made
I think we can agree that this is a lot of steps. Writer Joshilyn Jackson says that being on sub is “a special kind of hell” and she’s right.
When it works, it can be heaven, I’m thinking, in that amnesiac, I-truly-can’t-remember-the-pain-now-that-my-baby-is-born sort of way.
Well, I’ve gone on a little too long to get into back story tonight.