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KTC
05-25-2010, 05:16 PM
What lengths do you go to to guarantee an acceptance?

If you have feedback from an agent or publisher that suggests a rewrite of, say, the first chapter, might garner an acceptance...do you do it?

How shaky is the ground of your resolve? Do you keep hunting or do you rewrite? At what point do you listen to yourself? At what point do you listen to the advice?

Where is the soul-selling line? Do you cross it?

Devil Ledbetter
05-25-2010, 05:21 PM
A "suggested" rewrite that "might" garner acceptance would not be enough for me to sell my soul. I'd only sell it for a guarantee. ;)

Of course, I've never even come close enough to get a suggestion of a might, so I'm speaking from pure speculation and probably giving myself more credit than I deserve.

scarletpeaches
05-25-2010, 05:22 PM
I'm in the middle of this very situation.

I got a R&R from an editor who said if I rewrote, it wouldn't guarantee an acceptance, but she'd be more than happy to look at it, and I get to email her directly instead of going through the normal submissions procedure.

I still have the 'old' version of the book on my laptop. And to be honest, I like the new one better so even if she says no, I'll run with the edited book.

If I disagreed with her suggestions I'd take the book elsewhere, but she has a point, so...I'll rewrite.

I suppose it'd be harder to decide if your gut told you, "No, it's okay as it is," but in my case it doesn't feel like soul-selling. It feels like I'm making it a better book.

KTC
05-25-2010, 05:28 PM
A "suggested" rewrite that "might" garner acceptance would not be enough for me to sell my soul. I'd only sell it for a guarantee. ;)

Of course, I've never even come close enough to get a suggestion of a might, so I'm speaking from pure speculation and probably giving myself more credit than I deserve.

This is what I was thinking...why go through with this for a maybe when I think it works the way it is. Opinions are like assholes...everybody has one. What if everybody suggested changes and I raced around trying to please them all? Would I be selling myself short?


I'm in the middle of this very situation.

I got a R&R from an editor who said if I rewrote, it wouldn't guarantee an acceptance, but she'd be more than happy to look at it, and I get to email her directly instead of going through the normal submissions procedure.

I still have the 'old' version of the book on my laptop. And to be honest, I like the new one better so even if she says no, I'll run with the edited book.

If I disagreed with her suggestions I'd take the book elsewhere, but she has a point, so...I'll rewrite.

I suppose it'd be harder to decide if your gut told you, "No, it's okay as it is," but in my case it doesn't feel like soul-selling. It feels like I'm making it a better book.

And...there is that niggling feeling...there is a point to the criticism. Man...I have been wavering on everything lately. I'm thinking this may not be soul selling, too...maybe there is a point and maybe I should try the rework.

Man. It sure helps to have feedback from people who understand.

scarletpeaches
05-25-2010, 05:29 PM
Hell, I say rewrite. It's not like you'd be deleting the earlier version is it?

NeuroFizz
05-25-2010, 05:30 PM
Sorry, Kev (I'm taking a strict interpretation of your words), but paying attention to suggestions from professionals in the field, and making changes in line with those suggestions, is hardly soul-selling. I have never make a blanket set of changes from the suggestions of editors and agents, but I have made many of the suggested changes because each and every one I acted upon improved the manuscript or improved the story.

If anyone feels their words are so golden, and making suggested changes in response to constructive criticism is a surrender, perhaps PublishAmerica is a good outlet for those prized, unmodifiable words. They will leave them alone.

KTC
05-25-2010, 05:30 PM
Hell, I say rewrite. It's not like you'd be deleting the earlier version is it?

That's true. I can keep it and just see what happens. It was written in 2003...maybe it'll come out better if I gave it a new stab.

Calla Lily
05-25-2010, 05:32 PM
I'm practical. "Selling my soul" would be applicable if I was a tortured artist whose golden vision hung on my every word.

Screw that. I want to be on a bookshelf in B&N.

So, when my editor asked, I cut 9975 words from my mystery, rewrote the ending 3 times, changed a copyrighted name, and added in a few scenes that she said made things clearer. She knows what will sell. I saved the cut words in case I want to use them somewhere else.

I'll be on a bookshelf in B&N in February. WIN.

My soul's in God's possession. My books are a negotiable commodity.


/soapbox

Wayne K
05-25-2010, 05:35 PM
I'd kill the lot of ya to be published, but at rewrites I draw the line :D

A man has to have standards

inkspatters
05-25-2010, 05:36 PM
Yeah, I've done it. I've edited my entire book based on feedback from an agent that wasn't a guaranteed acceptance. I only did it because the suggestions resonated with me. I've chucked out other revise and resubmits and just kept hunting, but if there's a point to the criticism and you're going to wind up with stronger work regardless, why not?

KTC
05-25-2010, 05:37 PM
Sorry, Kev (I'm taking a strict interpretation of your words), but paying attention to suggestions from professionals in the field, and making changes in line with those suggestions, is hardly soul-selling. I have never make a blanket set of changes from the suggestions of editors and agents, but I have made many of the suggested changes because each and every one I acted upon improved the manuscript or improved the story.

If anyone feels their words are so golden, and making suggested changes in response to constructive criticism is a surrender, perhaps PublishAmerica is a good outlet for those prized, unmodifiable words. They will leave them alone.

That's the slap I needed. (-: I don't know what it is, Rich...I usually feel so open to criticism...but this one manuscript has been the one for me. The one I believe in. I certainly don't want to go waltzing over to PA with my 'golden' attitude. I want to make it better...I'm just not entirely sure this would. But I'm not adverse to trying. Maybe soul-selling wasn't exactly the term I was looking for...it's just that it feels like I'm compromising myself a bit to just rewrite in the hopes of getting a contract. That feels cheap to me. But, hey...attempting the rewrite is free, right. I may as well play.

nitaworm
05-25-2010, 05:38 PM
We authors have to remember if we want to sell a book, we have to do what we need to do to sell it. So if one agent wants more romance - tweak a version and add that in, if another wants more gore - tweak it and add it in. Take off the parental hat and put on your sell it hat if you want to get it sold. Or...stop and figure out what you truly want to do with your work.

So, in a word, if selling my work for $$ upfront meant changing it, heck I'd change it.

KTC
05-25-2010, 05:40 PM
PS...I'm all for rewrites and rounds and rounds of edits. My wavering is on changing the first chapter of the story. But like I said...I'm going to give it a go. There's nothing to lose.

Cranky
05-25-2010, 05:49 PM
Kev, if the suggested changes make sense to you, I'd try it. If you don't like the end results, there's no law which states you must let them have it, after all. And keep the original, just in case. :)

Yes, we generally must make editiorial changes if we want to ultimately be published. But if you think it's not doing anything to improve the story --or in fact, makes it worse-- then don't do it.

ChaosTitan
05-25-2010, 05:52 PM
PS...I'm all for rewrites and rounds and rounds of edits. My wavering is on changing the first chapter of the story. But like I said...I'm going to give it a go. There's nothing to lose.

There is absolutely nothing to lose. And the great thing about these newfangled computers is you can save the old first chapter in case you hate the rewrite. Nothing is set in stone.

I sent a book I wrote four years ago to my agent. I loved that first chapter. My betas had loved it. The first five pages helped place second in a query contest a few years back. I thought it was a win.

My agent wanted a new first chapter, and to make the old first chapter chapter two. So I wrote it. And he sold it. Win!

Words are our tools. And sometimes if we've been with a manuscript for too long, we don't always recognize the best way to arrange our words in order to best tell the story. :)

Cathy C
05-25-2010, 06:01 PM
I cut off my first book at chapter 7 (the ending of a short story) and completely re-wrote the book THREE times before it was accepted. Plot, characters and ending. Chop off. Discard. Rewrite. But every single rewrite made it stronger. Made it more saleable.

My soul was cheap and it's been bought many times since--every single book requires revisions and nearly every author I meet who's published more than one will shrug at some horrible defect they absolutely KNOW exists in a manuscript with a passing comment of, "Eh. It'll get fixed in edits."

And it will. Chapters come, chapters go. Characters are renamed and given new pasts. All without the reader ever knowing.

Except . . . occasionally, they find out. Our third book, Captive Moon, had at the back the first chapter of book four, Howling Moon. Except that it wound up NOT being the first chapter of book four. It was scrapped in edits, and chapter two became the new chapter one. Only readers of book three will ever know our original vision for the fourth book---one that readers who never bought that book will never know. ;)

KTC
05-25-2010, 06:05 PM
Thanks all.

This prima donna usually doesn't care about his words. Great advice here. Thank you all.

CaroGirl
05-25-2010, 06:05 PM
I'm all for reworking the chapter to see if you like it better. Professional advice is often worth its weight in gold. (Speaking as someone who has both taken and ignored professional advice.)

MGraybosch
05-25-2010, 06:06 PM
I'm willing to be reasonable in order to get published. If I make it big, I can always release a "20th Anniversary Author's Preferred Edition". It worked for Raymond Feist's Magician, after all. :)

Monkey
05-25-2010, 06:09 PM
When I write, it's just me and the computer. Pure expression. That's when I feel like writing is an art, that's my playtime.

Selling the stuff is an entirely different thing. It's not about me anymore; it's not just me and my computer. I figure if I want to sell my stories, I need to do whatever it takes to sell them. Playtime's over.

Not that that's a bad thing. A time for work, a time for play, and all that. :D

san_remo_ave
05-25-2010, 06:12 PM
PS...I'm all for rewrites and rounds and rounds of edits. My wavering is on changing the first chapter of the story. But like I said...I'm going to give it a go. There's nothing to lose.

Exactly! Glad to hear you'll give it a try.

I have a ms on submission now and a big editor recently asked for a R&R --specifically asking for cuts to the first chapter, a major overhaul of the ending and to toss in a few specific scenes of amore. Without adding to the overall word count (which meant additional cuts *somewhere*) and specifically requested without sacrificing any character development.

I was dubious, but made all of the requested changes, because I decided it was good practice and I could always return it to original if they decided to pass on the revisions.

With the changes, I find the first chapter so much stronger that I'm keeping it regardless. The last chapter is a little formulaic now, but since it's under review by HQN it's really not surprising. If they pass, I'm going back to original ending but keeping the new beginning, so worthwhile exercise in the end. (I'm still waiting to hear their decision)

Phaeal
05-25-2010, 06:18 PM
I'm with the "try a rewrite and see if you like it" camp. If you don't, you haven't lost anything.

Of course, changing a first chapter may require further changes, major and subtle. For some books, it could require a full rewrite. If you can really change just a few pages and get away with it, you're golden.

Me, I've gotten a bunch of form rejections, applied Piscean psychic power to them, and rewritten whole books. ;)

RemusShepherd
05-25-2010, 06:24 PM
What lengths do you go to to guarantee an acceptance?

If you have feedback from an agent or publisher that suggests a rewrite of, say, the first chapter, might garner an acceptance...do you do it?

Where is the soul-selling line? Do you cross it?

I'll do anything I can do.

A few years back, when I was writing short stories, I got a conditional offer from a major SFF magazine. I had sent them a story about a robot who was malfunctioning, and his malfunctions caused him to see ghosts.

The editor said that she liked the story but wanted it to be more cross-genre, and I should highlight the ghosts and downplay the robot bits. She wanted a ghost story with robots. I was telling a robot story.

I tried. I rewrote it once, handed it to her, and she asked me to try again. I rewrote a second time. Then I looked at the story and hated it. It was not what I wanted to write, and it made no goddamned sense. So I told the editor I just couldn't do what she was asking, and thanked her for the opportunity.

After that, I didn't submit another story for five years. I was that soured on the process. Thank ghod I at least continued to write.

If it had happened today, I would have done much the same thing, except that after seeing that the story could not be forced into the mould she wanted I would have started a new story that contained what she wanted. And then, whether it was accepted or rejected, I wouldn't have given up on everybody just because of one nutty editor.

So, to answer your question: I'd make a good faith effort, and I'd go as far as groveling and bending over backwards...but soul-selling? Nope, can't go that far.

Hmmn, this reminds me that I still haven't done anything with that robot story...

Shadow_Ferret
05-25-2010, 06:35 PM
That's not soul-selling in my mind. That's doing what's necessary to garner a sale. Heck, not only did I make my Chapter 1 a Chapter 2, I've rewritten my first chapter over half a dozen times, all on my own initiative. I'd love if an agent expressed desire and asked for changes to improve my story.

At this point, for me, even just a maybe would be wonderful.

jennontheisland
05-25-2010, 06:36 PM
Well, at least you didn't call it your kid.

KTC
05-25-2010, 06:41 PM
Well, at least you didn't call it your kid.

No. But I almost did. I did slap its ass, though.


I just finished rewriting the chapter. I'm sending it to my #1 beta reader right now...we'll see what they think of it.

AZ_Dawn
05-25-2010, 09:27 PM
Official LOL Dog of this thread. (http://ihasahotdog.com/2008/07/19/funny-dog-pictures-soal-plz/) :evil

Jamesaritchie
05-25-2010, 10:11 PM
What lengths do you go to to guarantee an acceptance?

If you have feedback from an agent or publisher that suggests a rewrite of, say, the first chapter, might garner an acceptance...do you do it?

How shaky is the ground of your resolve? Do you keep hunting or do you rewrite? At what point do you listen to yourself? At what point do you listen to the advice?

Where is the soul-selling line? Do you cross it?

I don't follow an agent's advice about writing, simply because I don't want or need feedback from an agent, and most have no clue, anyway.

Editors are another matter entirely. I love receiving advice from editors. Whether I follow the advice or not depends entirely on whether I think the advice makes the book better or worse.

From my experience, it makes the book better about 90% of the time. This means I follow the advice about 90% of the time.

brainstorm77
05-25-2010, 10:14 PM
I don't follow an agent's advice about writing, simply because I don't want or need feedback from an agent, and most have no clue, anyway.



Nice view of agents...

cllorentson
05-25-2010, 11:29 PM
I don't think it's ever really "soul selling" to do a re-write as per an editor's suggestions. I caught my first break into a "glossy" magazine because I changed a few things. I feel it made the story better.

If I'd refused, the story would probably still be sitting around my house, unpublished.

Our words are never so precious that they couldn't use a little refining.

Jamesaritchie
05-26-2010, 12:01 AM
Nice view of agents...

It's just the truth, and not a negative view at all. Darned few agents are writers, and non-writers should never tell writers how to write. And outside of mechanics, nor should writers, for that matter. Agents are primarily good at two things. 1. Recognizing a marketable story, which has nothing to do with how to write or tell that story. 2. Handling contracts. 3. Knowing which editor is looking for what. 4. Being a conduit between those who want to work with the writer, and the writer himself.

Writers should never allow an agent to tell them how to write a book, when that book will be submitted, where that book will be submitted, or how many publishers the book will be submitted to.

Nor do good editors ever tell a writer how to write. Most of them don't know how, either. Even if they do, no good editor ever tries to tell a writer how to write something, and leaves the final decision on changes up to the writer.

But the editor has one huge advantage on an agent. . .the editor has a checkbook. This is more than about money, it's about whose opinion will be most likely to get the book published. Editors and agents do not always see eye to eye on a book, and each editor has his own opinion about what he wants and how he wants it. This is one big reason why most agent take on a lot of books that never do sell, and why many books have to go through a number of editors before they do finally sell.

You have to please an editor, not an agent.

But it's just a plain fact that darned few agents can tell you anything about the best way to write a book, and a plain fact that when you start allowing an agent to makes decisions about your books and your career, you'll come up on the short end of the stick, even if a book does sell.

I have no disrespect for a good agent in any sense, but I am the employer, the agent is the employee, it's my career, it's my book, and the agent's job is to send it to an editor, and then handle the contract, if the editor likes it.

brainstorm77
05-26-2010, 12:03 AM
So James tell me, does an agent have any say at all? I find so many things wrong with your last post I don't even know where to start, or if would it be worth my time.

C.M.C.
05-26-2010, 12:05 AM
I only consider it soul selling if I can't see the merit of making the change. If I think it's a dumb idea that I don't want my name attached to, I'm not going to do it.

Alitriona
05-26-2010, 12:06 AM
Until I am in the position where I know better than everyone else, I will listen to their opinion. I can't imagine I will ever get to the stage that I will be able to, hand on heart, claim to know better than everyone else in the bussiness. I think a writer is always a student and always learning.

I ran off into my duvet cave in horror when I was asked to make changes previously, but have since learned, like others have said, writing a manuscript is an art but selling a book is a business. Now, I listen with an open mind.

cllorentson
05-26-2010, 12:20 AM
It's just the truth, and not a negative view at all. Darned few agents are writers, and non-writers should never tell writers how to write. And outside of mechanics, nor should writers, for that matter...



An agent's job is also to have a finger on the pulse of publishing, and that means that they should know what a member of the reading public would want to read. If an agent offers you an honest opinion about your book, I see no reason why you would discount it.

Maybe they're not writers themselves, but they are readers. Aren't we writing for readers? Or are we just writing for each other?

If someone with a proven track record in the publishing business tells me I need to make a few changes to my work, then I think I'd be stupid not to take their suggestions under consideration.

Smish
05-26-2010, 12:47 AM
I just finished rewriting the chapter. I'm sending it to my #1 beta reader right now...we'll see what they think of it.

How do you feel about the rewrite, KTC?

I think you made the right choice. It never hurts to do a rewrite, even if you ultimately decide to scrap it.

:)Smish

MGraybosch
05-26-2010, 01:49 AM
Aren't we writing for readers? Or are we just writing for each other?

I'm writing for myself, first and foremost. I'm not going to publish work that I'm not willing to stand behind. Publishing work I'm proud of might mean going along with an agent's or editor's suggestion, and it might mean insisting the proposed change might be detrimental to the work. It depends on the situation.

KTC
05-26-2010, 02:00 AM
How do you feel about the rewrite, KTC?

I think you made the right choice. It never hurts to do a rewrite, even if you ultimately decide to scrap it.

:)Smish

My beta said she can't believe she ever liked the original...she likes the rewrite so much better. I'm going to do what I usually do...sit on it for a while. I will tackle it with my editor's hat tomorrow and see if I can't polish it up a bit...but the reaction was A+. I think I actually like it better myself too. It was so hard for me to see it any other way than the way it was...I have been reading it since 2003. I think I did the right thing.

cllorentson
05-26-2010, 02:27 AM
I'm writing for myself, first and foremost. I'm not going to publish work that I'm not willing to stand behind. Publishing work I'm proud of might mean going along with an agent's or editor's suggestion, and it might mean insisting the proposed change might be detrimental to the work. It depends on the situation.

I think a lot of it depends on why we're writing. When I said, "Aren't we writing for readers", I was talking about freelancers who write for a living. If we're writing for a living, or at least attempting to, then we care a great deal about what readers think. We're in the position of service provider, and the reader is our client. We're attempting to write something that will be purchased by the reading public.
Since writing is also an art, of course, we want the finished product to represent our selves...but if we want it to be marketable, then we simply have to compromise, at least a little.
If we're writing only for ourselves, then it doesn't matter what an agent or an editor has to say about it at all. But then, in that case, why would we be sending it to them for consideration in the first place?

Ryan David Jahn
05-26-2010, 03:52 AM
I won't make changes that I think will damage a book for any reason. I'll make suggested changes I agree with whether there's the carrot of publication dangling before me or not.

I think making changes against your gut is almost always a mistake. It's the stories we choose to tell, the way we tell those stories, how we build characters, and so on, that sets us apart as writers, and making changes you don't agree with is usually not going to have good results.

(I might go so far as to make a lateral change -- something I think neither hurts nor helps -- but I will absolutely not make a change I think will do damage.)

That said, people who deal with stories every day tend to have a pretty good eye for problems, and good editors usually know what they're talking about (I'd say of the 200 or so suggestions I've gotten from my editor, I agreed with and was glad for 175 of them; usually what I feel upon receiving notes is relief -- thank god someone caught that before this thing hit shelves).

Since everyone's goal is making the book the best it can be, it's a good idea to really consider what people who know what they're talking about have to say.

Smish
05-26-2010, 09:12 AM
My beta said she can't believe she ever liked the original...she likes the rewrite so much better. I'm going to do what I usually do...sit on it for a while. I will tackle it with my editor's hat tomorrow and see if I can't polish it up a bit...but the reaction was A+. I think I actually like it better myself too. It was so hard for me to see it any other way than the way it was...I have been reading it since 2003. I think I did the right thing.

:Thumbs:

scarletpeaches
05-26-2010, 09:18 AM
I'm glad things have worked out, Kevlar.

I think this is the writerly equivalent of the saying 'a new broom sweeps clean'.

A new chapter can show you that you weren't that attached to the old version after all and while it's different, your words still tell the same story so that's the same. It's just an alternative way of getting the same story across to the reader.

seun
05-26-2010, 04:27 PM
I was really attached to the last draft of my WIP until my wife read it and pointed out it was bollocks. Once she did so, it was easy to let it go and come up with a new version. I've got no attachment to the other draft now.

If an agent or editor wanted me to make changes, I'd be more happy to do so - if I agreed. If I didn't, then I'd hope we could talk about it and reach some middle ground.

Cathy C
05-26-2010, 05:17 PM
So James tell me, does an agent have any say at all? I find so many things wrong with your last post I don't even know where to start, or if would it be worth my time.

Um . . . actually, I agree with James. The agent really shouldn't have any say at all. Their only choice is not to rep it if they don't like what you hand them. But to tell you HOW to fix a book or what to change isn't up to them because every publisher is a bit different and what one might like the next might hate. Our agent isn't one who involves herself in edits. She sells what we write. In fact, I'm not positive she's read the last several we've written. Admittedly, we write them quickly, but even with our first book which she accepted after reading, she's never suggested a single edit to the text, plot or characters. That's the editor's job.

ChaosTitan
05-26-2010, 05:41 PM
Um . . . actually, I agree with James. The agent really shouldn't have any say at all. Their only choice is not to rep it if they don't like what you hand them. But to tell you HOW to fix a book or what to change isn't up to them because every publisher is a bit different and what one might like the next might hate. Our agent isn't one who involves herself in edits. She sells what we write. In fact, I'm not positive she's read the last several we've written. Admittedly, we write them quickly, but even with our first book which she accepted after reading, she's never suggested a single edit to the text, plot or characters. That's the editor's job.

To offer folks a slightly different take on this...

I absolutely agree that it isn't the agent's job to tell me HOW to fix my book. However, my agent is very good at pointing out WHAT might not be working. He doesn't line edit, but he does come back with things such as "this seems too easy," or "there's no build-up for this" or "remind us who this guy is." It's always up to me to take his suggestions and either run with them or ignore them. He's never suggested I change a character or change a subplot - just made a note when something seems off to him.

Granted, these are things my editor might point out eventually, too. But I like getting feedback from my agent before my editor sees the book. It works for me. My agent doesn't tell me how to write or how to edit, but his feedback has always made my books stronger.

:)

brainstorm77
05-26-2010, 05:44 PM
To offer folks a slightly different take on this...

I absolutely agree that it isn't the agent's job to tell me HOW to fix my book. However, my agent is very good at pointing out WHAT might not be working. He doesn't line edit, but he does come back with things such as "this seems too easy," or "there's no build-up for this" or "remind us who this guy is." It's always up to me to take his suggestions and either run with them or ignore them. He's never suggested I change a character or change a subplot - just made a note when something seems off to him.

Granted, these are things my editor might point out eventually, too. But I like getting feedback from my agent before my editor sees the book. It works for me. My agent doesn't tell me how to write or how to edit, but his feedback has always made my books stronger.

:)


Exactly. This is what I agree with and you said it better then I could have. :)

Cathy C
05-26-2010, 05:53 PM
I will say it's a good question to ask when you're looking for an agent. Because there are a number of agents I know who WON'T offer feedback or edit suggestions and some who insist on it. Ours wouldn't even if we asked (which she's mentioned before.) So if that's a trait an author wants in an agent, it's something that needs to be brought up in the initial meeting/conversation.

ChaosTitan
05-26-2010, 05:57 PM
I will say it's a good question to ask when you're looking for an agent. Because there are a number of agents I know who WON'T offer feedback or edit suggestions and some who insist on it. Ours wouldn't even if we asked (which she's mentioned before.) So if that's a trait an author wants in an agent, it's something that needs to be brought up in the initial meeting/conversation.

Absolutely.