5 steps to a (nearly) stress-free submission

Yes. I have stared at the screen like this for a looooong time before clicking "send" (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Yes. I have stared at the screen like this for a looooong time before clicking “send” (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

The only thing harder than writing, is sending your writing out to be judged by the masses, be that your beta readers, an agent, an editor, or worse, your mom. After years of submissions (including the revised manuscript I sent to my publisher yesterday) I still hesitate over the “send” button. But I’ve come to realize that there are a few things that make clicking send that much easier.

1) Know your stuff. If you are submitting to an agent or a publisher, this means knowing who you are sending it to and what they are looking for. It also means knowing how to write a query letter or synopsis , and basics like the difference between rhythm and rhyme (that’s for you picture book folks). If you don’t know this stuff, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you find out and implement it in your work first.

2) Rally your troops. Writing groups are good for that (I assume, since I’ve never belonged to a writing group for more than 1 day). Chat with other writers that you’ve befriended at conferences over your submission anxiety (assuming you’ve been nice and made friends). And failing all of those, you have your family to rely on to say things like “they’re going to call you back so fast your head will spin!” or “you’re going to be the next J.K. Rowling!” or some other totally inaccurate thing that shows they know nothing about the publishing industry, but have plenty of love for you.

3) Get comfy. We all have something we do to make ourselves feel better. It might be retail therapy at the local mall. “Ooh, look at the pretty watches!” Or food therapy at the local bakery. “Ooh, look at the pretty macaroons!” Or people watching on the interwebs or in person. “Ooh, look at that. It’s not pretty. Not pretty at all!” Whatever your comfort thing is, go do it. You’ll feel better which will get you to step 4.

4) Move the H on. No piece of writing is perfect. No reader is going to love all of it. In fact, readers will wildly disagree about what works and doesn’t in your writing. So know that this will happen, be prepared for it, but move on. Once you’ve put the work out there the criticism will come. What separates the pros from the amateurs is knowing how to deal with the criticism.

5) Do something else. Sitting there thinking about what you’ve sent out is going to drive you nuts. Better to move on to the next thing. It might be the next piece of writing, it might be the dinner you neglected to check on the stove, or scraping out the pan of the dinner that you forgot on the stove, or going out to buy a pizza before your children starve to death. While they’re yelling toppings at you, you’ll be too exasperated to even remember…um…what were we talking about?