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Rilester
10-17-2008, 08:45 PM
Hello, all -

I need some advice so I don't manage to stick my foot in it somehow. An agent who reviewed my full MS is calling to discuss a few notes. After reading this board, I'm translating that to revision requests.

How long do I have to turn revisions around and still look like a bright and shiny candidate for representation? And how do I keep from sounding like an idiot if I agree with all of the suggestions?

Trying to maintain professionalism when I'm really jumping and down and thinking, "Pick me! Pick me!" has been tough, and that's just over e-mail.

Thanks for any tips you can offer.

Rilester

shameless
10-17-2008, 11:46 PM
Hello, all -

I need some advice so I don't manage to stick my foot in it somehow. An agent who reviewed my full MS is calling to discuss a few notes. After reading this board, I'm translating that to revision requests.

How long do I have to turn revisions around and still look like a bright and shiny candidate for representation? And how do I keep from sounding like an idiot if I agree with all of the suggestions?

Trying to maintain professionalism when I'm really jumping and down and thinking, "Pick me! Pick me!" has been tough, and that's just over e-mail.

Thanks for any tips you can offer.

Rilester

First off -- Congrats on the agent being so interested as to call you! That doesn't happen often!

Second -- I'd turn revisions around as fast as humanly possible! Let them see your dedication and enthusiasm.

Third -- You won't sound like an idiot if you agree with all the suggestions, especially if you think they're appropriate. Why would they make suggestions just to have a writer dismiss them? I can't imagine an agent being so diabolical as to think, "I'll throw in some stinky suggestions just to play with the writer's mind. Muuuaaaahhhh..."

Good luck! :)

Morrigan
10-18-2008, 12:06 AM
Hello, all -

I need some advice so I don't manage to stick my foot in it somehow. An agent who reviewed my full MS is calling to discuss a few notes. After reading this board, I'm translating that to revision requests.

How long do I have to turn revisions around and still look like a bright and shiny candidate for representation? And how do I keep from sounding like an idiot if I agree with all of the suggestions?

Trying to maintain professionalism when I'm really jumping and down and thinking, "Pick me! Pick me!" has been tough, and that's just over e-mail.

Thanks for any tips you can offer.

Rilester
Hi!!! You've raised a number of issues here that totally resonate with me because I only accepted representation recently and felt exactly what you were feeling at the time! You want to be "professional" and strong, but you also really want an agent.

Besides trying to figure out what the agent will say and how to respond, remember that this phone call is your opportunity to suss out the agent just as much as it's his or her turn to make judgement calls about you. When I spoke to the woman I ended up with, she was the first person I'd talked to who was REALLY enthusiastic about my work and who I really connected with. We made jokes for the first ten minutes of our conversation. Now, for me, that is actually a really important criteria--I wanted someone who loved my work and who I would love to go out and get a drink with. There IS a logic behind that, somewhere, but anyway, this is about you. My point is you have to know what you want out of your book and from your agent.

So if they do suggest revisions, apropos of inviting you as a client, my advice is wait and see if they "resonate". I was dealing with an agent at the beginning of my query process who said, "There's huge potential here but the beginning sucks, too many secrets are revealed too early, and you need to fiddle with the pacing." Now, I "knew" all of these things deep down, but was still at the stage where such seemingly big (they actually took like 3 days to fix) changes were terrifying. Anyway, long story short, I made the changes, the MS was SO much better and I got a fantastic agent. BUT I also had loads of near misses--people who said, "I LOVE it, BUT I think it should be darker, funnier, scarier, sexier, less fantasy, more fantasy, blah blah blah". The one thing I knew was sacred to me was my tone . . . I wasn't changing my tone come hell or high water. So I ignored them all. :-)

And at the end of the day you have to think in terms of the fact that you are the talent--agents need you to survive. YOU are their bread and butter, not vice versa. And you want somebody you WANT to work with. We've all queried those agents who we can tell are jackasses from their websites. Some are big wigs and it's exciting when they want to see our stuff. But then we think about how on EARTH anyone could actually work with that person. You've gotta work pretty intimately with your agent for, hopefully, a long time. You want someone you like and who likes you. :-) Or at least respect. So take a deep breath, remember that YOU are the talent, and wait and see what he/she says. Then assess their requests, don't be afraid to ask for time to think about their suggestions, or whatever else you would need to feel comfortable.

AND CONGRATULATIONS!!!! This is a huge step! I knew my agent was "the one" the moment I talked to her on the phone. I knew I was supposed to be cool and negotiate or something but I'd had so many dealings with so many people I didn't want to work with that when I talked to her there was no question. I asked her to marry me on the spot. :-) Well, you know what I mean. So don't be too bogged down by getting the "process" right . . . the point is for you to do what's right for you, not be an appropriately professional author. Besides, we're pretty much all complete nut jobs anyway.

waylander
10-18-2008, 01:26 AM
Take your time to think the revisions through and get it right.
The agent will respect you more if you take 3 months than if you take 3 hours.
Remember you are looking at a long term relationship here, feel free to disagree with any of the revisions that you don't feel comfortable with if they really alter your vision of the story.

shameless
10-18-2008, 01:32 AM
Take your time to think the revisions through and get it right.
The agent will respect you more if you take 3 months than if you take 3 hours.
Remember you are looking at a long term relationship here, feel free to disagree with any of the revisions that you don't feel comfortable with if they really alter your vision of the story.


Definitely get it right, but I still think you need to be a professional and not drag your feet getting the revisions done. Three months? A good agent isn't about to wait for that. No way. She'll have plenty of other talented writers out there who will make writing a priority.

waylander
10-18-2008, 02:05 AM
What I'm really trying to say here is don't send 'em back the next day.

And actually if the agent is really interested 3 months is not a problem if you get it right

Morrigan
10-18-2008, 02:32 AM
Definitely get it right, but I still think you need to be a professional and not drag your feet getting the revisions done. Three months? A good agent isn't about to wait for that. No way. She'll have plenty of other talented writers out there who will make writing a priority.
I agree that if you accept the revisions you should do them as quickly as possible while still doing them well. That said, obviously the amount of time taken will partially be down to the nature of the revisions. "Whole book written from different POV" may very well take three months. But you do want to show a good work ethic, just as you would expect your agent to get back to you in a reasonable amount of time with their edits and what not. And if an agent DID ask for revisions so substantial that they took three months you'd have to do a lot o soul searching to figure out if they were worth it, based on one opinion.

shameless
10-18-2008, 02:55 AM
I agree that if you accept the revisions you should do them as quickly as possible while still doing them well. That said, obviously the amount of time taken will partially be down to the nature of the revisions. "Whole book written from different POV" may very well take three months. But you do want to show a good work ethic, just as you would expect your agent to get back to you in a reasonable amount of time with their edits and what not. And if an agent DID ask for revisions so substantial that they took three months you'd have to do a lot o soul searching to figure out if they were worth it, based on one opinion.

I agree! A good work ethic is important because there are so many writers out there who drag their feet, missing deadlines and making their agents and editors nuts. I can't imagine an agent would ask for a "whole book written from a different POV" and honestly be interested in the story. So I stick by my original advice. Do the revisions well and do them quickly. Impress her with your dedication to your work.

Rilester
10-18-2008, 03:00 AM
Thanks to all for the words of encouragement and the good advice. I knew I could count on the pros on this board for good insights!

Morrigan, I think you identified one of my fears: that having come this far, everything will blow off the rails when it turns out that we don't see eye to eye on the direction of the revisions. Argh. I'll have to wait and see on that score.

Sounds like the way to go is to prepare thoughtful, detailed revisions as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. That makes perfect sense.

Man, I'm excited, but I'm also going to be sitting on tacks till this call! Phew!

Thanks again to everyone who replied.

MsGneiss
10-21-2008, 07:34 PM
Rilester,

It's not a bad idea to ask the agent how quickly she expects the revisions. I was in the exact same situation - got a phone call of interest and a request for revisions (in fact, I am still in flux with this agent, who is currently reading my latest revisions). She said that it's important to get my project out quickly, so she was happy to hear that I can turn the revisions around in a week or so. Just ask. It can't hurt.

Rilester
10-22-2008, 06:58 PM
Sleepsheep, that's a good point. I'll just ask, unless they're so minor that they should obviously be complete overnight.

Tomorrow is the big day, so I'm bouncing all over with excitement today. Waiting is so hard! Argh! :)

MsGneiss
10-22-2008, 07:20 PM
Rilester! Congratulations! Keep us posted. Some good news, albeit somebody else's good news, would certainly cheer my up today!

Carmy
10-22-2008, 07:57 PM
Good luck, Rilester.

Question the revisions you're not clear on, then concentrate on doing them as soon as you can.

I had a request for revisions, had an accident that put me on my back for six weeks, and by the time I got back to the agent she had decided not to represent that genre any more. Stay healthy!

Deb Kinnard
10-22-2008, 09:27 PM
I'd turn revisions around as fast as humanly possible! Let them see your dedication and enthusiasm.

I echo the congratulations -- however: I'd take as much time as you reasonably need to do the revisions. I'd recommend looking at each suggestion, making sure you understand its intent, then incorporating it in your MS or asking further questions as to the reasons behind it. Or, even, declining the suggestion.

It's still YOUR piece and you own the right to accept suggestions, or decline them. If you accept them all without thinking them through, and taking a little time to do it, you may regret some of them someday.

My agent does not mind, and I don't think many of them mind, your taking the time to reflect a little over the recommendations. Once you're okay with them, then turn the MS around with all deliberate speed.

My take.

stormie
10-22-2008, 10:14 PM
I agree with sleepsheep. No harm in asking for a time-frame on the revisions. But stick to that, don't draw it out. Let us know how it goes!

Rilester
10-24-2008, 12:38 AM
Computer problems here, so forgive me if I've posted it twice, but here's the update:

The agent didn't call me at the agreed-upon time. No message, no e-mail. (yet?)

The rational, adult part of me knows that there was probably a simple misunderstanding somewhere along the line, but the paranoid writer part is curled up and whimpering.

seriously squelched and hoping for a redemptive ending to this one.

MsGneiss
10-24-2008, 12:46 AM
Rilester,

Agents are people, and busy people. Don't worry. I am sure it's a misunderstanding, or something simply came up. Follow up by email, and take it from there. Good luck!

Rilester
10-24-2008, 04:45 AM
(cough) OK, total waste of a good neurotic breakdown, because there *was* a good reason and the logistics all ironed out.

That being said, I'm still in the hot seat. The revisions requested, which the agent described as small, seem moderately daunting to me. There's no way I can turn them around without at least a week, and luckily, the agent is OK with that.

Also, for the most part, the revisions seem completely reasonable. I was worried I'd get feedback like "make it darker/scarier/whatever," but it was more specific, and once I get over the shock of the volume of revisions, I'm looking forward to plotting them out.

Revision requests are probably old hat to most of the pros on this board, but honestly, I'm thrilled and excited just to be in this position. It's more than I could have hoped for in all those hours of pounding my head on the keyboard in frustration... so however it ultimately turns out, I'm going to see it as one for the plus side. :)

Rilester, feeling Pollyannish after her call

Karen Duvall
10-24-2008, 04:53 AM
This is terrific, Rilester! Congrats! Revisions are the ultimate test for a writer. I'm certainly no pro, but I'm no stranger to revision requests, either. Personally, I think they're awesome. The more challenging, the better. They always seem to improve the work 200 percent, at least for me. My agent had me do revisions after she signed me, but she knew I'd been around the writing block a few times and figured I was good for it. A new writer, I think, needs to prove her or himself. This is a very good thing, Rilester! Enjoy!

MsGneiss
11-07-2008, 04:59 AM
Rilester, I felt exactly as you did when I got the call for revisions. And the subsequent email for more revisions, after I finished the first round. And yet another email for revisions after I finished the second round. But I am happy to report that it all paid off, because I ended up signing with that agent. Revisions are a good thing! So be motivated, be happy, and work hard!

Rilester
11-10-2008, 06:36 AM
Sleepsheep, that's awesome! Bet it was hard to keep the faith through multiple rounds of revisions without a contract, but it obviously paid off. Whoot!

After much flipping out and omigodding and breathing into paper bags, I figured out how to craft the requested revisions, and I e-mailed them off today. Total turnaround time was just over two weeks, which meant every waking moment I wasn't at my day job. I'm ready to put my laptop in storage for a while.

Anyway, now I'm back in waiting mode, and after two weeks of typing, I don't even mind. My eyes hurt, and I'm ready to read other people's books for a while. I might even mosey over to Share Your Work and try to build up some karma in case I need to dust off my query letter and start over again. Ugh. But that's obviously still a very real possibility.

sigh.