15 March 2011

Lessons From the Trenches #1: Manuscript Revisions

Rainy Tuesdays may be good for lots of things, but for me, it was to create a new weekly blog idea. Every Tuesday I'm going to write "Lessons From the Trenches," the idea being to share the info I'm getting through the submissions process to help other authors along the way.

Without further ado, Lesson #1:

@MandyHubbard and @jennybent kicked off the morning with a rousing debate on manuscript revisions. The idea from the agenting world is that a quick turn around=bad revisions.

As a newbie author, I found the debate very interesting. With my query currently making the rounds in NYC, I'm beginning to get manuscript requests (okay, just one request, but still).  Here's the problem from the trenches.

I want an agent. I want to be published. So when I got a nice, personalized rejection letter full with critique and suggestions, I dove into revisions. I wanted to show said agent that I could take direction and revise/edit/turn a manuscript around quickly. Look how good I am, agent? See how fast and well I did those revisions?

But, according to those in the know, I edited too quickly. Agents, if they take the time to comment and give advice, want the author to take the time and make those changes matter.

If you turn around revisions in a week, you've not done your job.

Let me repeat.

If you turn around revisions in a week, you've not done your job.

In other words, make their advice count, no matter how long it takes to edit. Stew over their suggestions. Make your changes reverberate throughout the novel as a whole, not just at the affected scenes. They're out in the field, seeing what sells, knowing how to make stories better. They tend to know what they're talking about.

I am assured that if an agent took the time to comment and give suggestions, they will not forget you if you take the time and make the best changes possible for your story.

Even if it takes two weeks, a month, longer, if an agent liked a piece enough to critique, they won't ignore you or not remember you when you resubmit.

Lesson #1 learned.


Marian Pearson Stevens said...

Loved your post, Joy! Just found your blog, chick sister! Will be tuning in to see what happens next. We're all doing this at some point and find this interesting. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

C. R. Bailey said...

HA! I wish you'd written this before Thanksgiving, when I spent a twenty straight hours turning my ms around so I could take off for the holiday. Seems I should have taken my time. . . .

Tonya Kappes said...

Great post. As a matter of fact, I worked with an agent on revisions for SIX months! I did exactly what she wanted and she continued to email me telling me she was excited to get the revisions etc...I even went as far as hire a professional editor who LOVED the book too. There were some minor tweaks and that was it. Said agent got the revisions and then told me she wasn't interested any more!! Six months is a long time to work on revisions, but she emailed me weekly back and forth with suggestions etc.... I don't think agents really know what they want until the see it....

jeff7salter said...

What that agent did to you was intolerable.
In fact, it sounds sadistic.
I'm wondering if she/he just changed her/his mind ... or if it was just out-and-out manipulation.