Suddenly, we were “on submission.”
‘On submission’ is short for “on submission to publishers.” It’s the period of time where your agent is taking your manuscript or proposal and is sending it to their contacts in the literary world. In my case, our proposal was being sent to every major publishing house I had ever heard of. Like seriously, pull a book off your shelf. Look at the publisher. Do you recognize the name? Then that was one of the publishers my agent had sent our proposal to.
There are no words to describe what this process feels like.
I’ve read around online and people talk a lot about how hard this part of the process is. They give recommendations like “only check your phone once a day” and “try to be social to get your mind off of the anxiety.” I didn’t have any idea what to expect. Lolly and I just wandered around in a daze of anticipation. There was such a thrill about it all! It was truly amazing.
Just imagine: at any moment, any second, I could get a call or email that would change my life forever. A call that I had been dreaming about for years–and in some ways most of my life. The call in which I’m told I’ve sold my first book.
During the first week of being on submission, Lolly and I were so optimistic. It just made sense that this was happening. It fit in with everything the previous year or so of our life had been. Being on TV, speaking to large audiences, etc. This was just another obvious step in our journey. We were sweetly excited, talking about hopes and dreams. The word naive could perhaps be used, but I don’t feel like it fits exactly. We were just hopeful and happy. And very, very excited. And grateful–often filled with gratitude for what was happening.
And then we got to week two.
It’s very natural as this process goes forward for a writer to start to doubt that things will end well. The question starts to creep in: what if nobody responds? What if this thing doesn’t sell?
We wanted some reassurance. We talked to our agent. “Guys,” he said, “I can’t make any promises. But I just want you to know how much I believe in your project. I’ve been doing this for a long time. A really, really long time. And… how do I put this? Let’s just say, at this point in my career I don’t take on a project unless I expect it to sell with a six figure advance. I believe in this. Totally and completely.”
Six. Figure. Advance.
My head was spinning. I’d never even contemplated anything like that.
He really did believe in this, and he had the reputation to back it up. Hearing that helped Lolly and I to take heart. Waiting was excruciating of course–more excruciating than I could ever begin to describe–but we knew we had a project that people believed in. We knew our story was worth telling. We knew our agent believed in us, and in our project… enough to stake his reputation on his. Enough to expect really big things–amazing things.
Now, it was just time to wait.