Monday, March 21, 2022

My agent wants more revisions


Two years ago I accepted an offer of representation for my novel. After signing, I did a few major rounds of edits, but my agent believes these edits have not successfully refined the book. While we have a difference in visions that I didn't fully understand until our process was well underway, I still think my revisions improved the book.


My agent's notes have always been insightful, friendly, and thorough—but while at first I thought I was responding to them and producing a clearer and more streamlined narrative, I have come to feel further from submission than I was two years ago, and I'm not sure what to think anymore.


Trust your gut.

You may not know a lot about publishing but you recognize lack of progress.


For whatever reason, you and your agent are not on the same wavelength.

This is a BIG problem.


If your book isn't going out on submission, you're not moving forward.


It's time for some very direct communication with Agent Revisosaurus.


Tell your agent you are feeling frustrated with the amount of revising.


Ask if the agent thinks you're making progress.


Ask what the plan is for getting the work out on submission.


And in the meantime, it might behoove you to call in an outside expert. There are lots of former publishing house editors doing freelance work now. Have them read your manuscript, not for an edit, but for what I've called a second set of eyes. The question you want to ask is "is this ready for an editor to see?"


 I frequently call in help on manuscripts just to make sure I'm not missing something, or I haven't fallen so far in love with something that I've missed some fatal flaws.  I find those beta reads very valuable.


All that said, the first thing you want to do is talk to your agent. Zoomies, or phone, either one, but something where you can hear tone of voice.


It's a whole lot easier to suggest edits to a manuscript than it is to send it out on submission. I'm not sure if your agent is feeling overwhelmed, or just feeling the pandemic insanity.


You can revise till the cows come home but if you want cheese, someone needs to get out the milking pail.




Steve Forti said...

"If you want cheese, someone needs to get out the milking pail." I like that turn of phrase. Never heard that version before.

Julie Weathers said...

I totally agree.

Years ago, a friend went through something similar. Revise, revise, revise according to an agent's suggestions over a few years, and then finally the agent said they liked the story, but they were no longer accepting historicals.

She had felt she was getting further from the mark with it, but loved the agent. Back to a previous version she went and found an agent.

I think the first agent genuinely did like the work and was trying to help, but needs change over time. My friend said the early revisions did help so not all was lost.

You just, as Janet said, need to know when to get the pail out and milk.

Cute Highland cow, Miss Janet. Is she yours? *snerk*

Kitty said...

Maybe not apropos but it was my first thought.

"There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation."

W. C. Fields

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I would think that an agent would want to sub a work as soon as it is ready and would complain if it takes so much time getting ready? After all, until it goes on sub, it will not sell and agent revisionsaurus will never get paid. And either will patient author making revisions for two years. Is two years between securing agent and going on submission normal? I have no idea. That seems a really long time. Even in the glacial world of publishing.

I feel like I get myself in trouble because I revise things until they no longer work. I have stemmed that problem by getting beta readers in earlier - and that has made all the difference. Also, those extra pair of eyes build accountability so maybe do as The Shark has advised? Get some outside eyes on it with the question "Is this ready for prime time (editor)?"

I plan to do the same with my submission package this time - not one of those workshops like I've done in past - but with a freelance editor that really knows the business. Use whatever tools you can. Good luck. It's a dog eat dog world and we are all wearing milk bone underwear these days.

Julie Weathers said...

I had to give up on Rain Crow and hire an editor. I knew it needed to be cut, but I was chasing my tail trying to figure out how. I'd cut one thing and beta readers would say, "No, you need to keep that."

I've gained fifty pounds and lost half my hair. It was just cheaper to hire an editor.

John Davis Frain said...

"It's a whole lot easier to suggest edits to a manuscript than it is to send it out on submission."

Agree. From the writer's POV, sometimes it's a lot easier to keep editing than to submit. It's an easy excuse to put off rejection.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

OP - You felt your ms was good enough to query. An agent felt it was good enough to offer you representation. Of course there's going to be some revising, some clean-up, some changes. But I can't wrap my head around two years of editing.

When my current publisher accept my Young Adult manuscript, they essentially asked if I was prepared to tackle the suggested revisions for a Fall 2022 release. Yes. A great big YES.

And yes to Janet's "trust your gut"... All the best to you.

Miles O'Neal said...

Such a cute wee coo! I'm impressed you can get away with keeping her in your home. Is she out on the balcony?

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Speaking of revising and editing - I need to proof read my comments before I hit send. Sheesh! *accepted

Craig F said...

If you start to edit the magic out of a work, it is time to re-think it.

AJ Blythe said...

This is a tough business. If I didn't love the writing so much I'd change jobs (if I actually got paid for this one, lol, I guess for now it would be change hobbies?).