Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Happens After You Submit?

Note: Last week Jamie West did a fabulous series on editor pet peeves. Thanks for a very informative week, Jamie! This week, I thought I’d give you a peek into the submission process itself.

As an author, you’ve spent hours, weeks—maybe months—working on your baby, and polishing your manuscript until it shines. Now, without a net, you have to throw your baby out into the world, to see if it can fly on its own. You have submitted your manuscript for publication.

Congratulations. That is a bigger step than you might realize. It takes a lot of courage to face possible rejection.

But after you send your query off to The Wild Rose Press’s Query Us” e-mail, what happens to your submission? Does it end up in some cyber black hole? Not at all. Queries are read and disbursed every morning by our wonderful editor-in-chief, Rhonda Penders. They are then sent on to the appropriate senior editor, based on line, and from there sent on to an editor.

That is when I come in. And I’d like to tell you a couple of things about my process, and how I handle reviewing a submission.

First, I read the query, looking for the concept of the book. I do love a well-written query. Send me something that reads like a back cover blurb, with a clearly defined hook, and I will anxiously read on. But if your query doesn’t have the perfect blurb, don’t worry. This is only a piece of the puzzle.

Do I look at the author’s credentials (provided there are any listed) on the query? Yes. And though I note them, and a publishing history is worth mentioning, they don’t mean as much to me as the writing.

I always sneak a peek at the first chapter then. I can’t help but look at the writing itself before I get to the synopsis. Okay, I will admit it: I am a synopsis skimmer. I am most attracted to the actual writing, then the synopsis. Is the style fresh? Does the voice catch me? Is the storyline plausible? Do I relate to the characters? The answers to these questions, along with a general clean manuscript, free of grammatical errors, will determine if I want to see more, and if I want to invest a couple of hours reading a full submission.

Only then, if I adore the writing, do I go back and read over the synopsis to see if the plot makes sense. If all the pieces fall into place, I will ask to see the full manuscript.

And if the full is one of those stories that keeps me reading into the night, then you might just have yourself a contract.

Up next: The Rush You Get When You Find a Gem of a Story

Renee Lynn
Editor--Champagne Line
The Wild Rose Press


Eliza Knight said...

Thanks for sharing your process Renee! It's good to know you are a synopsis skimmer, because I know for most writers the synopsis is SO hard to write! I dread writing them--I understand why they are needed--but it is so hard to condense your story and still make it pop. Any advice on how to do that?

Mary Ricksen said...

Great question Eliza.

Renee I loved your post. How refreshing to hear that the person who reads your inquiries is so totally human. If an editor likes your voice, it's a monumental thrill. You read hundreds of books and if you like it, the story must be good. And that is a really huge compliment.

Catherine Bybee said...

This post is just one of the many reasons TWRP is a cut above the rest. You get it! Not everyone can write a winning synopsis yet to book may well be the next best thing out.

Renee Lynn said...


Excellent question. Let me tell you what I look for in a synopsis. First, the major plot points/turning points (in a romance, for both hero and heroine) must be presented. It's important to boil it down to those major moments and not to include too many secondary characters or extraneous information.

Secondly, in a romance, be sure to show HOW the hero and heroine fall in love. If you say that the hero spent all night telling the heroine his most intimate thoughts, and secrets about his past--tell me how that changed the heroine's view of him. Does she suddenly see his vulnerable side? Does she see that he is more than just a cocky man? These are the feelings that must come across, so that it doesn't just read like they did A, B, C, and boom! They are suddenly in love.

Thanks for commenting!


Renee Lynn said...

Hi Mary!

Voice is one of those intangibles, isn't it? But the good news is every writer has a unique one. :)

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back for the rest of the series.


Renee Lynn said...


A synopsis is so very hard to write :) I have to admit to thinking TWRP is a cut above the rest too (big grin!).

Thanks for the comment!


CJ Parker said...

I don't dread the synopsis. I quake at the thought of the query. And I've won first place in a Best Query Contest where Kensinton's Kate Duffy was the judge.

Renee Lynn said...

Hi CJ! Queries can be tough to master--but you sound like you have it down!

Thanks for checking out my post.


Vivian Crosby said...

Great post, Renee! Really informative! :)

Diane Craver said...

Great post, Renee! I enjoyed reading what happens to submissions.

Renee Lynn said...

Thanks for stopping by, Vivian!


Renee Lynn said...

Hi Diane,

Thanks for checking out my post :)