Monday, October 1, 2012

Hard to Swallow


Pride, that is, for those of you who’s thoughts immediately turned pervy (you know who you are:) A few of you might remember this post from several months ago in which I manifested my grief at being passed over by an agent after multiple revise & resubmits. I was, in a word, devastated.

And even though the agent had showed interest in some of the other projects I’d mentioned while in contact with her, and told me to re-query with anything in the future, it took me a long time to actually take her up on that offer. 

Because, to be honest, I felt like I’d been left at the altar. And wasn’t sure if re-querying that same agent would make me dumb, or naïve, or a glutton for punishment. The emotions were still raw and it took lots of sushi, wine, querying, revising old projects, starting new projects, oh, and day dreaming of self-publishing and by-passing the crummy querying trenches all together, for me to finally cool down enough to realize that I wasn’t left at the altar at all. 

While it’s hard to cut out the emotions that go along with exposing your work to professionals, the emotions really do need to be put aside. The relationship between a writer and their agent is a professional one. There’s no crying in baseball, people. And as a professional, the agent gave me a lot to think about. She challenged me and made me delve into revisions, reworking my manuscript in ways I’d never had to before.  She made my book stronger, in the end; saw something in my work and went the extra mile to help me make it better, which is more than any other agent has done for me yet. 

I finally decided to submit an older manuscript the agent had shown interest in. It took her awhile to get back to me, but when she did, she’d read the manuscript in its entirety and wanted me to think about rewriting and resubmitting-  turning the book into a stand-alone novel instead of the first in a trilogy. 

Now, these aren’t your quick-fix type of revisions and I was hesitant at first, since I was hoping to do more with the story in future novels. But she answered my questions, gave me her professional insight into why she thought it would work better as a singleton and I had to admit, she was right. 

I swallowed my pride and did what was in my work’s best interest, professionally. And I encourage all of you to do the same. Has your project or query seen revisions? Don’t be afraid to re-query agents on your list who turned you down before. You might be surprised. Does an agency have a ‘no from one is a no from all’ stipulation? Query a second agent in the agency anyway, especially if there was more than one that looked right for your work. 

As for me, this month will be devoted to completely revamping the novel with the agent’s suggestions in mind. Will this lead to a contract? I have no idea. But, the bottom line is, revising and editing according to professional feedback is something every published writer needs to be able to do, no matter where they are in the process; agented, un-agented, out on submission with publishers, or getting a book ready for the printing press. It’s something I need to learn to do, and do better, if I ever want to make it. 

Have you ever had to swallow your pride for the sake of your manuscript? Did the outcome result in a stronger project and/or a stronger you?

31 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Cool! That's terrific she gave you some good feedback. I find that many of beta are often correct in their assessment of what is and isn't working in my manuscripts. I don't think I have much pride left! I've used agent's feedback before for rewrites and it always helped!

Sarah said...

If she's willing to invest that might time in you and your work, Katie, obviously she sees serious potential. The feedback represents an investment in your future career!

I never did r&rs with agents, but I've done tons of revisions with my agent and editors. Sometimes it IS hard to take, but I can tell how much it's improved my writing. Definitely worth it, even during the times when I want to toss my laptop over the balcony.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's so awesome that she gave you feedback so you can make your manuscript better even if she isn't the right agent for you. Shows how good your manuscript is that she's taking the time to do it.

I haven't queried yet, so I haven't had any experience with it. Hope to finally query next year.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good for you, Katie! It is hard not to take it personally, but publishing is after all a business.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

The fact that she wants to see more of your work was a positive sign. The fact that she wants you to rewrite this ms, is another positive sign. Congrats, Katie!

I'll admit I did skim down the post at first, expecting a big announcement at the end. :D

Jennifer Shirk said...

That's awesome that you're taking her advice! That agent does want to help you!
YOu can do it!

kiperoo said...

YES! This is totally amazing. Agents don't ask for an R&R lightly, so the fact that this agent did this before and is now offering such specific feedback on another manuscript is SO GOOD. You have so much to be proud of just for the request, but it sounds like you are really ready to delve in and make it work. Let me know if you want fresh eyes for a beta read when you're ready with it!

SA Larsenッ said...

Yes I have, and so far my decision to swallow that pride is paying off. I know that is a hard thing to do. These stories are our babies, and having someone tell us to change what we've created can be rough, not to mention the changes they're asking us to consider being tough and tedious.

I'm proud of you for stepping back and examining it all. You will do awesome forging ahead. Can't wait!

Connie Keller said...

That's wonderful news, Katie. It does take humility and perseverance to go back to something and rework it--and it's got to score some points with the agent when she sees your willingness to do what it takes. I'm really hoping it will pay off!

Anne Gallagher said...

Been there done that. Yes, it made me stronger, but after awhile, it just made me realize that self-publishing for me was the way to go. With this business being so subjective, revising and resubmitting and still not getting an agent is just more work, which is fine, but if you get rejected time and again, it just becomes blinding frustration.

Jessica Bell said...

Sound like you have a lot of work ahead of you. But if you feel it's the right thing to do, then GO FOR IT!

PS: Love the "League of Their Own" quote. One of my favourite movies of all time :-)

Kristi said...

Love, love, love this post!

It's so true. And, yes, I've been there. :)

Best of luck with your revisions...I'm hoping for you, this one ends in a contract. :)

Kristin Rae said...

Agree Agree Agree!! I've done two R&Rs and I took it as like a trial run of sorts. Here's professional feedback, can I take what they said and make the changes? I was even happier with my story afterwards (hey they really DO know what they're talking about!).

Congrats on your latest R&R, and kudos to staying strong!! You got this!

Meredith said...

Ugh, it's so hard to requery an agent who's rejected you! I try my best to stay professional and keep my emotions out of it, but it's still difficult. Congrats on the revise and resubmit! Good luck!

Jay Noel said...

It's tough swallowing your pride. Hopefully, good things will come from it. I endured twelve years of rejection before my first "yes."

Trisha Leaver said...

I have swallowed my pride more then once on the suggestion of an agent, and almost always said agent has been right. It always takes me a few days to process revision ideas, but in the end, they always make my writing, and in turn my manuscript, stronger.

I am sending you all my good mojo for your revisions. You will rock it, I am sure!

Tony Van Helsing said...

Good point, it is a profession and expert advice and criticism should not be taken personally but used to your advantage. And yes, the first thought I had when I read this post title was mucky.

Old Kitty said...

Yes, yes, yes and yes! Oh yes!! Lots of swallowing of humble pie and quivering lower lip biting and then a tiny bit of annoyance afterwards (after the revisions etc) when you realise they were flaming right! LOL!!!

Good luck with your revisions!!! All the best and big big hugs!! Take care
x

Matthew MacNish said...

I think you're doing the right thing, Katie. Having never even gotten far enough to receive an option to resubmit, I think this is very exciting news! I know, it's a lot of hard work, and it must be terrifying, but still, I'm happy for you.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

No writing is ever wasted. Here's to a productive, insightful month with that manuscript!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

No writing is ever wasted. Here's to a productive, insightful month with that manuscript!

Amie McCracken said...

I'm sending this blog post to a friend. She's had almost the same thing happen. I like that you point out the professional side of it all. Our writng is art, but when it comes to making money there is a business side involved. We have to separate those two things.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Critiques and rejections are both hard to swallow. Keeping it "professional" when writing is so personal is one of the hardest things to do!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Critiques and rejections are both hard to swallow. Keeping it "professional" when writing is so personal is one of the hardest things to do!

D.G. Hudson said...

Pride in our work is understandable given how much time it takes to create and breathe life into our writing.

I would have hesitated to contact that editor as well. But after you let it sit, you changed your outlook. Good points. Being professional is key.

LTM said...

Awesome post, Katie! And I'm SO GLAD you're working with this agent again on the R&R! You are awesome and you're getting so close! *everything crossed* over here for you!

Great advice about not giving up. You are so right, and it does make us stronger. :o) <3

Mark Murata said...

Always keep a version 1.0 of your manuscript, from before you made changes for an agent or editor. As you go through these changes, you have versions 2.0, 2.1, etc.

Laura Marcella said...

This writing life sure is an emotional roller coaster. Good luck with you MS! It's great you got such helpful feedback.

ELAdams said...

Thanks for following my blog :)

I have a hard time taking rejection from agents, and if she's given you that level of feedback she must see potential in your work! Best of luck :)

Tamara Narayan said...

I did follow a list of revisions for an agent and it made my first book stronger in so many ways. I was grateful for the feedback, but the agent still didn't take on the book. It was a good learning experience, but tough emotionally. I am not looking forward to querying my second book, but at least I know what to expect.

FunnyGoodJokes's Blog said...

Cool! Inspirational!

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