The Five Emotional Stages of a Submitting Writer

Hello my dear peoples!

Okay, so, I was going to sit down like a refined person and write a blog.  But then the Puggle started tooting.  Not just tooting, but like epic digestive orchestrations.  I have never heard an intestinal region be so multi-tonal.  It’s ungodly.

Then I started writing a blog about the Puggle Toots and realized that with the Poo blog last week I have hit my dookie quota for the month of August, and moved on.  And I absolutely did not video the Puggle to catch this symphony with the intent of putting it in the blog.  Nope.  Not me.  Never happened.

Anyway.  I currently have a nice heap of submissions out.  This is nerve-wracking at best.  If you are a writer who has ever submitted to an agent, you feel me here.  If you are a non-writer, I’ll explain it like this.  Querying an agent is like sending out a resume for a job.  Getting a submission request is like getting a second interview.

But, as this is your literary baby and was grown within the confines of your soul, it’s like going on that interview completely naked and having the possibility of getting a form letter rejection.

“We’re sorry, but your boobies just didn’t speak to us the way we were hoping.  Thank you for allowing us to consider your junk.”

I can think of nothing that makes a writer feel more vulnerable than having to turn over the innermost workings of their brain for others to read.

And when those others happen to be agents who basically hold your life and career in their hands, well, let’s just say I am amazed I don’t drink more.

Some of these submissions have been out for a month or more, some for several weeks, and some just a few days.  I sent a batch of queries out in early July and am still hearing back on them.  Don’t get me wrong here, getting a request is cause for a mother freaking happy dance every.single.time.  It beats the balls off getting a rejection from a query!

There are five stages of grief, right?  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  There is a similar emotional formula for writer’s who get submission requests.

1. Excitement

“ERMAHGERD!!  A REQUEST!!!!  They liked what they saw!!  My query worked!!! THIS COULD BE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

You then quickly and efficiently put together your submission and send it back in.  Commence checking your email every 17 seconds.

2.  Fear


“Oh my gawd.  Did I send it right?  Did I attach the file in the right format? Was what I said to them in the reply stupid?  Did I give them the right copy!?  SHOULD I HAVE SENT LESS PAGES!?!” (Note, that last bit is regarding partial requests.  It is tricky to know where to cut off so as to not leave the agents hanging int he middle of a paragraph.  Full requests are brilliant and lacking that hideous step.)

You then proceed to stalk your sent folder in your Gmail and study the message you sent looking for errors.

Note: I recently had a submission request from an agent that I ADORE and promptly sent it out.  Sadly, it wasn’t until the next day and my sent folder stalking that I realized my hubs had put the name of my Young Adult book as the header instead of the proper name of the Women’s Fiction I was actually submitting.  We *headdesked* with fervor that night.

3.  Confidence

“Okay, no, they liked the query, they will like the book. And if they don’t, no biggie, my agent is out there somewhere!”

This is an especially fun phase if you have multiple submissions out.  You smile yourself to sleep thinking that you are possibly days away from finding your right agent, and the two of you will go skipping off into the sunset together selling books by the millions.

4.  Terror/Worry/Panic/FREAKING THE FUCK OUT

“Oh god.  OHGODOHGODOHGOD.  What if they never got the email? *checks email* What if they got it, hated it, and are waiting to drop the ax?  *checks email* What if I have been waiting all these weeks and no one has even opened the damn thing!? *checks email*  What if all the submissions I have out come back as NO’s!?!?!  *checks email* I’ll have to shelve my book! *checks email* I’ll let my family down!! *checks email* I’ll have to stop writing!! *checks email* I’ll have to live the rest of my life as a crazy person with stories in my head an no way to let them out EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  *CHECKS MOTHERFUCKING EMAIL*”

This is a very dramatic phase.  It’s good for friends or significant other’s of the writer to be prepared for this in advance.  I recommend booze, Xanax and tranquilizer darts.

5.  Acceptance

“Ah, well.  It will turn out however it turns out.  I hope they like it.  Guess I better get to work on my next story now.”

Ahh, the Acceptance stage.  It’s a tough one because it can be peppered with regressions back into any of the previous stages.  Myself, I am currently rocking the numbness stage, with occasional dips into steps 1 and 4.

Just today, for example.  I had a dream that one of the agents I have a submission to wrote me a letter of rejection.  Except, it was something like, “Dear author, Holy shit do you suck.  I mean, you suck actual elephant balls.  How dare you send this hideous dreck to my desk, and sully my eyes with your inept story telling and complete lack of understanding regarding the English language.  Never query me again, you pitiful, pathetic “writer”.”

Yes, that is what I dream about.

In my defense, I was reset within the cycle by another request this week.   I expect to be firmly back in the Acceptance stage by the weekend.

So, there you have it.  If you know an author experiencing any of these stages, be supportive.  And possibly be armed.  We writers are crazy bastards.

Someday soon I will show you what happens when the responses start to come in.  I’m waiting to experience those gems firsthand before I share.

I hope you all are having a tremendous week!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Submissions!!!



  1. Hilarious! Oh man, Summer, I was giggling on the floor! This made me cackle like an old witch: “We’re sorry, but your boobies just didn’t speak to us the way we were hoping. Thank you for allowing us to consider your junk.” The stages you wrote are very accurate and the worst one is fear. Which I appreciate it being depicted by a quality JLaw aka Kat Everdizzle gif.

  2. ok must see the video of toots! Poor Summer this would make me insane I wouldnt make it past step 2 before i just gave up and hit the booze 🙂

  3. THIS IS SO TRUE! It’s true to a lesser extent with outstanding queries, but with submissions, it’s a thousand times worse. If your query stinks and gets rejections, that’s one thing. But when it’s your BABY! Your whole manuscript?! It’s terrifying. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Lmao the boobies line is the best thing I have heard in a while 😀

  5. Loled so hard. Jeeze woman, so true!!

  6. Lol! I’m going to bookmark this post!

  7. YES!

    And <3 that Richardson is on here:D

  8. Summer, this is so freakin funny! I’m going to pass on this link to everyone I know and everyone who ever asks me what it’s like to be a writer, and when anyone tells me they have a book they’ve been thinking of writing, I’ll whip out my pad and make them watch it then and there. Girl, you are doing a service, helping us poor writers get a little understanding from family & friends alike, not to mention helping a lose a few pounds from laughing so hard!!! YOU ARE THE NEXT EVANOVICH!!! (hope I spelled that right, no time to look up, haven’t gotten to writing (I mean editing) today. Thanks for being the wonderful, colorful, fabulous person you are. DON’T EVER CHANGE!!!

  9. Yep. Every single word of this is TRUE (and hilarious). Especially the boobs bit.

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