Thursday, March 8, 2012

Clicking "Send"

I finished my manuscript! I submitted it last Friday! 

Submitting a manuscript is something of an “aiyyyeeeeee squeeeeee eeeeeek” sort of experience—exciting and scary. No matter how many times I’ve done it, I still get freaked out as I reach the point of actually sending it in. I look at the manuscript and poke at it. I change something. I re-read the synopsis and change something. Finally, finally, finally, I stop tinkering and work up the courage to click “send.” Then it takes me a while to work through the freaked-out stage and get excited.

I didn’t want to celebrate submitting the manuscript by, oh, catching up on things I’d been procrastinating. Eek. It was a beautiful afternoon, so I decided to hike the ridge (a nearby park area with good hiking trails). This would be beneficial on multiple levels: extra exercise for ye olde weight-loss efforts, and good strategy for working out any heebie-jeebies over submitting the book. I took a water bottle and a baggie of four malted milk eggs (yes, four—I didn’t want to undo ALL the benefits of the exercise, and I’d already eaten some chocolate), selected the Irish playlist on my phone (appropriate for March), and hiked up the hill. At the top, I sat on a bench and ate a malted milk egg. It was quite celebratory. That night, my husband and I went out to dinner (which is our usual date, but it still counts as celebration). We went to a nice Italian restaurant we hadn't been to in a long time, plus we got gelato afterward. I love food. 

Submitting a manuscript is always big, but the Giant Milestone of Overwhelming Significance came when I submitted a manuscript for the first time. That was HUGE—the culmination of over a decade of work, when after years of writing, rewriting, and reading fiction technique books, I had finally reached the point where I felt ready to submit my work to a publisher. In fact, that was almost exactly ten years ago—if I remember correctly, it was in March 2002 when I first submitted a book. This was when you still submitted in hard copy, so I printed out my book, carefully put it in a box with the cover letter and synopsis, and took it to the post office, accompanied by my kids and a sign my daughter had made and stuck in the window of the minivan, reading “World’s Greatest Author,” or something like that. Unfortunately, the publisher turned out to be unaware that this new submission was from the World’s Greatest Author, and they rejected my book in record time. But that didn’t lessen the milestoney-ness of it all. I had crossed the threshold from dreaming about being a published author to actually submitting a manuscript.

And now, ten years later, I've sent a new manuscript off. If my publisher accepts it, it will become my sixth book. If they reject it, I’ll bet my mom will still read it and say something nice about it, so it’s not a total loss. Fortunately, I don't have to start getting nervous yet, since they haven't even had the book for a week, so it's way too early for any kind of news. 

Mmm . . . malted milk eggs . . . 

Oh, sorry. Where was I? Submitting manuscripts. When did you submit your first manuscript (or when do you plan to)? How did you celebrate?


  1. I haven't submitted (or written!) anything really big yet, but I know to be careful. I e-mailed a short story to a competition last year. For some reason I read over the copy in my Sent file, and found that a crucial paragraph was missing from the middle of the story. I submitted the full story, with a note of pleading explanation. As usual, nothing came of it, but now I'm even more neurotic about clicking "Send."

  2. Hooray!!

    I submitted my first manuscript in October 2009 and we went out for dinner to celebrate. I was like 4 weeks pregnant, so I was too tired to do anything else!

    And yes, it was rejected ;)

  3. On the day I found out that my first (and only!) short story was going to be published in some obscure magazine back East, I had a national ballroom dance competition that night. So-not much time to celebrate, but I did take first in one of my dances, so that could count, right? :) Oh-and I went to Denny's that night for bacon...always a celebration if there's bacon!

  4. Well, your daughter is rather prophetic. Who knew!

    Good luck with the submission. Can't wait to read this new book.

    And I love listening to Irish music any time, but especially in March.

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  6. That is the thing that children do that make us laugh and cry, they are such sweet beings, aren't they! The Irish music is a nice touch, and so are the malted eggs, that is a great way to celebrate. As for me, anytime my husband and I can go out to dinner without the kids and not to a fast food place is a celebration in itself! Best of luck!

  7. T., yikes, what a nightmare! I'm glad you were able to notice the missing paragraph in time to tell them about it.

    Jordan, that first rejection is another milestone to authorhood, isn't it? Congrats on your upcoming book!

    Meg, bacon always counts as a celebration!

    Donna, aww, thanks :)

    TaylorFamily, I agree--I love going out to dinner with my husband!

  8. I'm looking forward to reading your next book when it comes out, Stephanie! I don't remember much about my first submission (I'm sure I was really nervous), but I do remember getting something other than a rejection for the first time. I had two, two-week old babies and hubby and I had just returned from taking them to their dr. appointment. I was going to go take a nap, because I was exhausted, but then my husband said "Hey, have you read your email recently?" There was my email from Covenant saying they wanted to publish my book. After that I was too excited to take a nap. But I think I was still too exhausted to do much celebrating.

    1. Thank you, AL! Getting that first acceptance is one of the best moments EVER! Congratulations on your book!