Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Nothing is real until the contract is countersigned. And even then things can change. Always read your contracts carefully.
- It's up to you to decide how long to wait once you're promised a contract. My longest wait so far is just over 8 months from when the story was accepted to when I finally got the contract.
- Your editor may want to make changes you don't agree with. Work with her.
- Publishing dates get pushed back. It happens. It's not the end of the world.
- Always treat submission dates and deadlines as if they were set in stone. Your editors will appreciate it and may be more flexible with you later on if the need arises. Then again, they may not, so you'll be one step ahead if you're already taking those dates seriously.
- Sometimes you bust your butt to make a submission deadline, only to have the publisher extend the deadline because they didn't get enough good stories or they themselves were running behind. Consider it good practice in working with deadlines and move on. Yes, you will likely have to wait longer to find out if you've been accepted. Have patience. Better yet, don't think about it and just work on your next project.
- Some people want indent-double-space, some want block format with spaces between paragraphs. Some want .doc, some want .rtf, some want it only in the body of the email and you will be drawn and quartered if you send an attachment. Format it the way they want it, even if it means reformatting it several times because you have to submit it to different people. Never give them a reason to say "no."
And while you're working hard to stay flexible, don't forget to celebrate the little victories – like a full year of blog posts. Wow! I totally missed my own blog anniversary. Thanks for reading!