The Five P’s – Steps to Submitting

I wrote a novel. Yep. I wrote the best dang novel I had in me…and then I started the steps to submission. After Step One, I scrapped it and rewrote the whole dang novel. (That story is for another blog post.)

I like shortcuts to remember things, so I created The Five P’s – Steps to Submitting. Why P? Because I just don’t have enough “P” in my life? No, with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, I have plenty of “P” in my life…but I digress. These P-words were easy for me to remember. I hope they are easy—and helpful—for you, too.

1. PUT it out there (That’s a P, I swear)

You wrote a Kick-Ass novel. You edited KA novel. Time to send your novel out to critique partners or beta readers.

Problem: If you’ve never let anyone read your work before, it’s HARD to press send. It took me FOUR YEARS to let another set of eyes look at my novel.

But it has to be done. Because you can’t improve if you don’t put yourself out there. And it’s a lot less dream-crushing and heart-stomping to hear what needs to be altered from beta readers and friends than in a rejection from an editor or agent. When you submit to the pros, you want to put your best work out there.

POSITIVITY (Remember this. More later)

2. POLISH

You wrote a kick ass novel. You edited the novel. You had critique partners and beta readers read and give feedback on the novel.

Well guess what: there are probably still typos. Twenty people read my novel, from friends and betas to an actual line editor I PAID. And while each person gave me feedback and mentioned errors, there were still typos when I queried agents. No, I didn’t ask for my money back. It happens.

My advice: Figure out if you have a friend who is a grammar freak and have that friend scour it to bits. Or hire someone. (But not the person I hired.)

POSITIVITY (Seriously, you need this)

3. PITCH

You put your novel out there. You polished it until it shone like Mr. Clean’s head on a hot day. Time to Pitch your book! This “P” includes the Query process, but “Query” messed up my “P’s”.

I LOVE pitching in person. Is it nerve racking? YUP! But I would much rather have the opportunity to sit in front of an agent or editor and pitch my book using my personality than send cold e-mails straight to a slush pile. At least if I meet someone I have a chance to make an impression. And I’m building a relationship, a connection.

My first in-person pitch went like this: “Um, so, yeah, my book has a hero, and um, he plays hockey.”

It doesn’t get much worse than that people! The editor stopped me to remind me she was a regular person. Her words calmed me, and I finished my pitch. She asked for the full.

**Pitching is my personal preference. In person, online – I love it. Pitch, query, whatever works. YOU BE YOU.

4. POSITIVITY (Almost there!)

PERSISTENCE

“Never, ever ever ever ever give up.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Everyone gets rejected. I’m so sorry, but it’s true. If you want to see your novel up for sale on a website or on a shelf in a book store, you have to keep trying. Keep working on your craft. Keep writing. Keep polishing. Keep pitching. Keep going! Don’t give up. Ever.

I could have given up after my very first critique where I was told: “This book is horrible. You should scrap it and start over.” (True Story). But I didn’t give up. I rewrote the book.

I could have gotten up and walked away from the pitch I ruined just by opening my nervous mouth. But I didn’t. I’ve pitched a few more times since then, and each time got better. The nerves subsided slightly and I improved.

Never give up! Please.

5. POSITIVITY

This is my life motto. I put Positivity after every single “P” just to Prove a Point. YOU are your biggest cheerleader, marketer, sales person. You’ve gotta own that puppy! I’m not saying be arrogant, but you have to keep a positive attitude about the process, the industry, and your product. If you don’t believe in your own craft, how can you sell it to anyone else?

And if you need positivity help – hit me up. There’s room for all of us to succeed! I will always remind you of that!!

What are your tips for getting to and through the submission process?

Sophia Henry writes Heartfelt Flirty Fiction featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. DELAYED PENALTY and POWER PLAY, the first two books in the Pilots Hockey series from Random House Flirt, are available now at all major e-book retailers.

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