Focus Your Submissions

You’ve written one novel, and you’d like to get it out to as many places as possible. So you tediously make a list of your top sixteen publishing houses. Unfortunately, you receive sixteen rejections in the space of two weeks.  Some of those rejections have given you feedback on how to improve your novel, but they didn’t invite a resubmission. So if you’ve already exhausted your list, where do you send your novel once you’ve improved upon it? And should you resubmit to those publishing houses without invitation?

You can always send an e-mail to the editor who rejected your manuscript, asking if you can resubmit once you’ve polished it, but if you have several houses giving you several different ways to change your manuscript, you need to review the notes, decide which ones you agree with the most, and resubmit only to those houses if you’re allowed.(Side note: If you don’t agree with the changes, don’t make them just on the off-chance you might receive an acceptance. You need to be true to yourself and your voice.)

Because there are so many possible scenarios that can happen when you’re submitting a manuscript, it’s best to query only one to three publishers or agents. (Another side note: If you intend to submit to an agent, it’s generally best to not submit to publishers as agents like fresh material they can pitch to editors/publishing houses.) This is not to say don’t be aggressive about sending out your work. Just leave some doors open so you’re not out of options when you’ve refined your novel.

If you approach three publishers/agents and receive rejections without notes, proceed to the next three publishers/agents on your list. If you’re wondering what you can do while you’re waiting to hear back from the publishers/agents, work on your next novel or try writing a short story. Write an article and submit it. Read some books on writing and the genre you’re interested in.

And the final side note, if you can, try to keep at least two or three manuscripts or submissions (including articles or short stories) in the pipeline. This will give you a sense of purpose and help to keep you motivated.

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