The Mysterious Process of Going On Submission

As promised, here’s my post about my submission experience! It’s so crazy to me how little there is out there about going on submission. There are about a bajillion posts about how to get an agent / querying / querying stats / etc, but like less than ten about submission. I wonder if it’s because everyone’s experience varies so widely!? Or because (as Susan Dennard talks about in many of her posts) the finances of the thing? Advances, etc? All I know is, it feels a little like everything is shrouded in mystery once you get to this part of the process.

After signing with Andrea, I did a very small revision (only took about a week, because of the massive R&R that I’d just completed) and then she recommended we wait to go on submission because it was mid-August, and literally NO ONE is in the office in mid-August (except for me, but that’s another story for another day wah).

So, we decided to hold off going out until after Labor Day, but in the meantime she drew up a list of editors that we were going to send THE LUCKY ONES off to. The list was… daunting… to say the least. All the people on it were, like, high, high up at their respective imprints/houses, and had these lists that were gulp-worthy. I was like, um are you sure Andrea, maybe we should just submit to like one person who works in the basement at Penguin Random House who, like, isn’t actually on payroll and they can buy the book for 1 cent and then throw it in the garbage!??! ‘Cause I have great self-esteem like that. (Insert wild-eye emoticon here.)

(But, IRL, I didnt say that because I’m trying to keep the secret of how exactly cuckoo my brain is from my agent so as not to scare her off - um, hi, Andrea!?)

ANYWAY - after I looked the list over and died multiple times from seeing who was on it, we agreed that it looked great (GULP) and we were ready! She wrote up the query letter (which is really similar to the query letter you send out while looking for an agent, except it’s more editorial because you agent (hopefully) is like “I love this book and so should you!”) and we were off.


Like any good writer does.

… right?!

I checked my email approximately one BILLION times over the next few days. Like, even at midnight (PT) because I was like MAYBE SOME CRAZY EDITOR IS UP RIGHT NOW READING MY BOOK AND HATING IT SO MUCH THAT THEY HAVE TO REJECT ME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT (again, I’m special).

I’m here to say: no matter how fast or slow submission goes, it is PAINFUL.

It physically hurts your body and your brain. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, which isn’t good because I have a very full-full time job which requires me to actually have the ability to DO STUFF.

I finally forced myself to come to terms with the fact that we wouldn’t hear anything for 2 months or more, so I needed to move on with my thoughts.

But, after only two days, we got our first reply!

A rejection!

It was nice, but it was definitely a rejection. Oddly, it didn’t bother me too much, mostly I think because I was like wait how did we already hear from someone!??!

And, at the same time, we also got a lovely reply from Krista Marino at Delacorte aka one of the top-top-top people on my list of dream people who I thought I would never work with in a million years that said that she was “reading and loving - more soon!”


And then my anxiety level ramped up even more (my lucky husband!) because I was like HOLY SHIT WE MIGHT HEAR FROM SOMEONE AT ANY SECOND I MUST CONSTANTLY REFRESH MY EMAIL AND DIE EVERY TIME THERE IS NOTHING THERE.

It was super fun!

Thankfully, and I realize how lucky I was, only a few days later Krista wrote again…




Anyway - that’s when things got crazy because we had only been out on submission for a week (!?) so we had a lot of other editors with my book still. Andrea handled it like the champ that she is, and things really started speeding up. We got a couple more passes and then another amazing editor who said that she was reading and loving and she’d hurry up… but in the meantime Andrea went back to Krista and got her up to a number that I never expected to hear in relation to my book & the deal was that we would take it off the table if that happened…

so we did!

And my emotional, funny, quirky book sold to Krista Marino the goddess in a PRE-EMEPT after only a week on submission.

It was a crazy fairy tale.

But then came AFTER SUBMISSION … which is, again, not something you hear much about but is REALLY important to talk about in my opinion.

But it’s a story for another post.

Liz Lawson

Over 7 years in the music industry, Liz has worked as a music journalist (Paste Magazine, Tiny Mix Tapes), a music publicist (Orange Twin Records, former home of Neutral Milk Hotel), and now a music supervisor. She started her career working for illustrious music sup's Gary Calamar and Alyson Vidoli, assisting on shows like True Blood, Dexter, and House, and moved on to learn as a music coordinator under Carrie Hughes (The Hills), where she worked on several shows under the Viacom blanket (MTV, CMT, VH1). Never one to rest of her laurels, she managed to scored her own show (Black Ink Crew, VH1) several months later, and soon found a home music sup'ing that show and multiple indie films, including "May the Best Man Win" which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2014 and was directed and written by Andrew O'Connor of Peep Show fame. She's currently branding her business as Vinyl Rules Music Supervision, and is currently music sup'ing Black Ink Crew and well as two indie films: A Light Beneath Their Feet, starring Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) and Madison Davenport, (Noah). Zen Dog, starring Kyle Gallner (the upcoming Clint Eastwood picture American Sniper, Veronica Mars) and Clea DuVall (Girl, Interrupted, Argo).