Now the hardest part of traditional publishing is the wait. I submitted my book a week ago and have heard nothing. In fact, I am not expecting to hear back from them for 3 months at the soonest. Some people on the Harlequin network have been waiting a year.
The hardest part of the wait is not pestering the publisher. In the past, I have never had this problem. Most of the people I have submitted to were very prompt in sending me my rejections. However, when I did not hear back from the agent I sent my husband's query to, it threw me off a bit. Then I read the fine print - email submissions to that agent are not answered if they have been rejected. Although I feel that practice is a little rude, I am the one looking for a job not the other way around so oh well.
I don't think any writer can ever be done learning how to write. At the same time, I feel that I have learned enough to at least get published. Perhaps I should say, I hope I have learned enough to at least get published. But I always have self-publishing to fall back on, I suppose if it doesn't make it.
Now, if you get rejected from a traditional publisher, you should simply resubmit it elsewhere. However, in my case, that will be more difficult. First, I am tired of rejection letters. I enjoy writing and most people who read my stuff (and are not related) also enjoy it. My beta readers had some very important suggestions, but they both liked it enough to read it in one setting. As an editor, I know that is saying a lot. And although I grumbled about what the one beta reader suggested, it was simply my laziness. I didn't want to make the change to the character's names. In the end, I did it because I recognized the book was better.
Beta readers are not editors. An editor does an in depth analysis allowing you to have a completely polished work. A beta reader is donating their spare time to read a book and get a mention in it. They can tell you about major plot inconsistencies, some typos, and when you have given someone the wrong title, but asking them to do a full edit is not nice to them and even if the person is an editor, they will probably just skim over most things. For traditional publishing without an agent, beta readers are definitely the way to go.
Now, Harlequin recommends beginning your second book as soon as your first is submitted. I already have the synopsis for three of the next five books written and a brief blurb about the other two. If they accept me, I want to sell them a series of six books. If you are planning to make a living as a traditional author, you should try to write three books per year, and you want to start on the next one before the first is accepted. It keeps you from pestering the publisher.
Yes, manuscripts get lost (even good ones), but you need to give the publisher plenty of time before you contact them to see if they received it. Most publishers and agents tell you up front how long it takes them to get through your novel. Wait until after that time to contact them.
Well, I'll give you an update on how it went in a few months. Now, back to the freelancing grind. :-)