Patience is a virtue–Submit when it’s perfect, and then prepare to wait

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been picking up the pace of my submissions, and also broadening the variety of publishers I’ve been submitting to. What I didn’t realize when I committed to this strategy is how much this would test my patience.

waiting - image courtesy of microsoft

You might as well take a seat…this is going to take a while.

Let me explain. Usually, I write for Jewish magazines. If I submit a book, it’s usually a picture book involving Jewish subject matter. The world of Jewish publishers is very small, and the editors receive fewer submissions than those who handle secular material. The response time in the Jewish publishing world is much faster than in the secular publishing world. Moreover, some of the editors have gotten to know me over the years because they’ve employed me, read me online, or just like my style. I suspect that my subs don’t always go in the slush pile, at least in certain offices, B”H & bli ayin hara. Yes, I have to wait for a response from editors, but the wait is relatively short.

Re-entering the realm of secular publishing is a wake-up call to the realities of that world. The new pieces I want to submit to secular magazines, websites, and book publishers need to have some of the stylistic elements that are unique to Jewish publishing removed. Then my stories need to be polished once again. I want them perfect, absolutely perfect before submitting because I know I’m most likely headed right for a slush pile. There will be gobs of very talented competition and the editor will have no idea who I am and have never seen my previous work or this blog. If I rush in preparing my manuscript, it’ll just get chucked after the first round of review.

The result: getting a short story ready for submitting is taking me longer than I’m used to. When I finally get the pieces “shipped,” I have to wait and wait and wait…because the editor has a HUGE slush pile and is just methodically going through all our faceless, unsolicited subs. This can take not days or weeks, but months or years. Ugh.

The problem really isn’t theirs, it’s mine, because part of being a professional author is being patient. Unfortunately, patience is a virtue, which means it doesn’t occur naturally for me some of us. It has to be acquired, and only by waiting will I acquire it.

By the way, the hardest thing about waiting, in my book, is not to get your expectations up. So this is what I’m trying to do–submit, and then forget I did it. Yes, there is a paper trail. Yes, I’ve recorded when things go out, and where. But I’m trying not to dwell on my absurd fantasies hopes of publication and just keep cranking out the subs.

2 thoughts on “Patience is a virtue–Submit when it’s perfect, and then prepare to wait

  1. It unfortunate that secular publishers dont know quality!!!

    Keep forgeing ahead! sometimes our timeframe is not the same of Hashems! Every submission gets you closer!!!!!!


    • I think there ARE secular publishers that do know quality…but there is simply so much more high-quality competition. I’m not the only person in the world who has good ideas and knows how to write. Plus, established authors carry a valuable brand. When Mo Willems (who I happen to admire a lot) comes out with a new book, people will get it simply because–hey! It’s Mo Willems! It has to be good!

      Also, a big issue is marketability. First, an editor has to like your story, but then they run it through the marketing department and ask, “Is this what our target readership is looking for? Will they feel they’ve got their money’s worth?” In that regard, readers who want quality–however they define it–need to spend their money to obtain it. The publisher will then acquire more books with similar virtues. The sad thing is that as long as people spend lots of money on TV-tie-ins and Disney and books that offer a lot of sensationalism, companies who want to make a buck will provide those things.


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