The 7 Stages of Literary Submission

Stage 1: Nausea

Clamp your lips tight, clench your buttocks, and click the ‘send’ button while your stomach tries to escape through your throat and your guts play Cat’s Cradle. It’s gone. There’s no reclaiming it. You have officially submitted yourself to days, weeks or possibly months of morning sickness while your literary baby floats in the amniotic waters of perusal…

Stage 2: Optimism

You know what? It isn’t that bad. You worked hard on your story and it’s actually a fairly decent piece of writing. They’d be fools not to love it. And you’ve been doing this for so long now, you won’t feel crushed if it’s a rejection – it’s part of the deal, it’s par for the course, it’s a rite of passage, it’s some other trite cliché that makes you feel better. Come on now, it’s going to be fine. This time it’s all going to work out.

Stage 3. Panic

What were you thinking, you total moron?! You sent them that? That piece of crap that’s been crapped on by a crapmonster made of crap? You idiot. Quick, how do you un-send something? Can you tell them it’s a mistake? A joke? The pacing is too slow, the dialogue is flat, the description is dull, the premise is unoriginal… And ffs you forgot to read the submission guidelines properly, you TWONK.

Stage 4. Faith

It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be fine. THIS IS YOUR TIME. It’s gonna happen. It’s a strong piece, it’s what they wanted, it’s new, it’s full of voice and intrigue. Come on, you can feeeeeel it. You’re going to get that email any minute…… now. NOW. Now? How ’bout now? Okay, stop refreshing the page. Try not to hyperventilate. Pour yourself a big ‘ol glass of Jim Beam and order a takeaway. This is it. Any day now. You’re going to hear from them…

Stage 5. Despair

Just crawl back into your hole and sleep for eternity.

Stage 6. Nausea. Again

You should have heard by now. Any day now. Any day now. ANY DAY NOW. What if they say yes? Will you be able to splutter out “thank you” while you’re chundering? Try not to puke on the keyboard. And if it’s a “no”, well, there’s always the Jim Beam.

Stage 7.  Acceptance/Rejection

Wooohoooooo YOU ARE THE FRICKIN’ DON OF THE LITERARY WORLD! Raise a jubilant glass/eat some chocolate.


Meeeeeeh… <sob> No, no… <sniff> It’s actually fine. It’s fine. You’re fine. Raise a sorrowful glass/eat some chocolate.


Hmm. Adrenaline’s worn off now. What else can you submit?

Rinse and repeat.

Get published. Be awesome.


For more insightful, practical, and sweary advice on writing and submitting short fiction, or plotting, editing and publishing a novel, check out our online courses HERE and do that thing.

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