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r31584
12-08-2011, 09:50 PM
I received the following response from an agent after submitting my full ms:

"We believe that you have crafted a great story and your writing is beautiful, however, we feel that the book is a bit overwritten. You give the reader too much detail, which takes the power out of the narrative. We would be interested in possibly representing you at a later date if you were open to cutting down some of the prose to allow the characters to move the story forward. If you would like more detailed comments, please let me know.

Thank you for your submission. We look forward to hearing from you."

I thanked them for their generous words, said I would absolutely welcome any comments and said I was more than willing to pare the book down to increase its momentum and increase my chances of representation from their agency. That was two months ago. Haven't heard anything.

Do I wait? Do I self edit and resubmit? Did I somehow unknowingly blow it in my response? What are "detailed comments" and is it realistic of me to assume that they are still being prepared even though I haven't heard anything?

I'm very flattered but also a bit perplexed.

suki
12-08-2011, 09:55 PM
I received the following response from an agent after submitting my full ms:

"We believe that you have crafted a great story and your writing is beautiful, however, we feel that the book is a bit overwritten. You give the reader too much detail, which takes the power out of the narrative. We would be interested in possibly representing you at a later date if you were open to cutting down some of the prose to allow the characters to move the story forward. If you would like more detailed comments, please let me know.

Thank you for your submission. We look forward to hearing from you."

I thanked them for their generous words, said I would absolutely welcome any comments and said I was more than willing to pare the book down to increase its momentum and increase my chances of representation from their agency. That was two months ago. Haven't heard anything.

Do I wait? Do I self edit and resubmit? Did I somehow unknowingly blow it in my response? What are "detailed comments" and is it realistic of me to assume that they are still being prepared even though I haven't heard anything?

I'm very flattered but also a bit perplexed.

They didn't give you more specific feedback, and it may be that they won't. BUT, since they offered to give you more detailed comments, you could try emailing again to followup. Treat it like a status query - ie, you are following up because you were waiting for more detailed comments before attempting a revision - and respond with their offering email in the email so they can refresh their memories.

And then, if you still receive no feedback, you will need to decide:

1. If you agree with the advice. And, if yes,

2. Revising on your own.

On 1, have you received feedback from any other sources? Critique partners? Other agents? If not, maybe look for some peer critique, if you are unsure of where to start. And if you have received conflicting advice - ie, other agents rejected for other reasons or are still reading, then I'm not sure I would revise without more feedback. But if this agency doesn't take the time to give more feedback, and you are not sure you agree with the vague feedback, I would be hesitant to undertake a full revision.

BUT, if you agree, then you will have to revise on your own. And again, maybe some peer critiquers (see the beta forum, or post the first 1000 words in Share Your Work once you have 50+ posts) can help you focus on areas in need of revision.

And welcome!

~suki

Drachen Jager
12-08-2011, 10:05 PM
I would absolutely start now. Especially if you agree with the overall assessment. Find one of your favorite beta readers and ask them if they'd be willing to review your manuscript with the agent's criticism in mind once you're done the re-write.

That is excellent news. Many successful authors have been picked up through this kind of deal. They just want to know that you can re-write to editorial demands and you won't break down and have a tantrum, because it's a given that you're going to see more severe notes from editors before you get published.

If the agency is good, and you really want to work with that agent, then just go for it. They didn't get to be where they are by sending a bunch of half-assed notes. Write away to the best of your ability while you wait for their notes. Tell them that you're willing to consider an exclusive arrangement while you work with them. It's really a golden opportunity, and yours for the taking.

Tromboli
12-09-2011, 07:28 AM
I'd send a follow up note asking if they received your message about being willing to do the revisions and if so if they had any notes for you (try not to sound like you are trying to rush them or that you are upset in anyway). It might be that email got lost in cyber space or maybe they are working on the notes (It makes sense to me that they would only take the time to write out the detailed notes they spoke of if you said you would be willing to do them, otherwise it's a waste of time).

But I'd still start working on the revisions yourself. It seems like some of that is self explanatory, meaning you can figure out enough of it on your own. But as with all big revisions, keep a copy of your manuscript as is now, in case you don't like how it turns out.

And, as long as you agree with the comment they made about your manuscript and think it will make it better, even if they don't ever respond it might just make your manuscript good enough for someone else to pick up. Either way its a helpful comment from an industry professional. Not something you usually want to ignore.

Chekurtab
12-09-2011, 07:48 AM
I guess they may not give you any detailed edits. Do your best and resubmit. Good luck to you.

Quickbread
12-09-2011, 09:50 PM
I see this as a golden opportunity, too, IF you really like the agency and you agree with the comments. If that's the case, I think you should go for it. It's as close to a "yes" as it can be without being one -- meaning, they really want to rep the manuscript, but it's not ready in their eyes.

Perhaps now that you have some distance, you might be able to reread your manuscript and see exactly what the agent means. Maybe you don't really need more detail at all but only think you do because it can be kind of intimidating to go back in and choose what to keep and what to pare.

I'm in a similar position. I had an agent reject me conditionally with comments and an offer to reread. She also offered to chat and give me more detail if I wanted it. I said yes, and we had a call, but honestly, she really didn't give me more detail. It was more like a nervous first date with me talking through her comments and trying to make sense of them and say articulate things about how the comments could fit my vision.

If you do revise and feel it strengthens your manuscript, you'll be that much closer to an acceptance, even if it falls through with this agent.

r31584
12-11-2011, 07:12 AM
Many thanks for all the input. This is my first novel, my first attempt to publish anything for that fact, and I don't really understand the terrain. I think I'll begin revising right away. I respect this agent and he obviously knows the marketplace.

Another agent is currently reviewing the full. I'll be interested to see if his assessment is the same.

Again, thanks for the thoughts everyone!