In my last post, “Excited about Edits,” I talked about receiving the edits on my debut novel from my publisher. In her comment on the post, my friend and agency mate Sarah Forgrave asked a great question about my experience.
I’m curious to know if all your work in rewriting the book for your agent paid off in your editor letter. In other words, did you feel like you had less changes than average since you’d invested so much time and effort BEFORE submission?
Thanks for your question, Sarah.
Yes. The rewriting I did for my agent was a major factor, but there were more.
I wrote the story, my third, during my first year of writing when I was a fluorescent green newbie. I submitted it to an agent, who requested the full. She said the story lacked a strong enough spiritual arc, so I rewrote it and added a conversion story that was as subtle as a billboard with neon lights and sound, and received a prompt–but well deserved–rejection.
I put that story aside and wrote two more. A confidence crisis of epic proportions followed, during which time I took a year off to study craft.
At the end of that year, I took a look at my five completed manuscripts and determined that Miles and Elenora’s story showed the most promise. It needed a new beginning, so I rewrote a quarter of it–and ditched the conversion story.
After implementing Anne’s great feedback, I entered the story in several contests, which led to an offer of representation from one of my final round judges–my Dream Agent.
My agent gave me awesome feedback, pointing out a major plot problem a quarter of the way into the story. That led to the major rewrite Sarah mentioned, in which I deleted three-quarters of the story and rewrote it.
Six months later, I sent the story to Anne and my new critique partner, Jody Hedlund. They gave me excellent feedback. I rewrote half of the story because the middle sagged.
I sent the new and improved story to my agent, who said it was ready to submit. She did, and it sold six weeks later.
A year passed, and I didn’t look at the story. Not even a peek.
And then came the email saying my story had been assigned to an editor. Because I’d not read it in a year, I reacquainted myself with it and noticed a number of things that needed tweaking. I performed a self-edit and sent a cleaner copy of the story to my publisher.
My efforts paid off. My edits were minimal.
I put tonz of work into the story before my editor saw it. I’d rewritten the story multiple times, and it had been edited by my agent and my two critique partners. Plus I edited it once more myself just for good measure.
Each publishing house does things differently and each author’s experience with edits is unique. What I’ve learned is that the more work we put in before we submit, the less work we’ll have to do after. I’m a firm believer in the value of rewriting our stories and getting feedback from knowledgeable people and publishing pros.
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What steps do you take to get your stories ready for submission?
Have you ever performed a major rewrite? How did it go?
Does the thought of receiving edit scare you?