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HoldinHolden
11-01-2013, 10:09 PM
Hi all!

I got a response from an agent who had my full basically raving about my book, which is awesome- BUT- she thinks it would be an easier sell with some revisions she suggested.

What is the standard procedure here if I do decide to R&R? Do I respond to her and tell her that I will be revising, or do I just send it on over once I'm done?

I hear this is a "big deal" - and while I love my MS, I'm always thinking about ways it could be improved.

Thanks!

Old Hack
11-01-2013, 10:56 PM
If you think the suggested revisions make sense, let her know and if possible, give her a rough idea of how long you think it'll take you to make those revisions. And then get to work.

At least, that's what I'd do.

HoldinHolden
11-01-2013, 11:13 PM
I am still brainstorming how I would be able to revise how she suggested- IF it is even possible. So currently, I'm not 100% that I can make it work. If I can it will be great, but it might take time to figure it all out.

Old Hack
11-02-2013, 12:56 PM
If you're confused by her suggestions then you could ask for clarification: but only once. So make sure you ask all you need to first time round.

HoldinHolden
11-02-2013, 04:53 PM
I'm not confused by her suggestions, only confused in my own head as to whether I can make her suggestions work.
To be less vague- my book is non-fic parenting humor. It's, as agents have called it, a collection of essays. This agent in particular thinks it will sell if it has a story line, which it does not currently have. All of my chapters/stories revolve around the same subject, but not all of them are tied together, and there is no story arc. I would have to go in, re-arrange the chapters (I think) and create one- and I'm just not sure that is possible yet.

Quickbread
11-02-2013, 07:26 PM
Sounds like an exercise worth trying at least. Reordering chapters is pretty simple to undo if you don't like it.

A friend of mine had to restructure his nonfiction manuscript for an agent, and he summarized each chapter on an index card, then ordered them into an arc using his staircase. It helped him see where there were gaps and overlaps.

Old Hack
11-02-2013, 07:48 PM
That sounds like a very good idea to me: it'll add more depth and tension to your book, which is going to keep your readers more interested, I bet.

It's difficult to do retrospectively but I bet you can do it. If you want to.

Siri Kirpal
11-02-2013, 09:24 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

One way that's helped me revise when the going gets scary is to create a whole new folder. The old book is completely available in the old folder; I then revise the book in the new folder.

I also keep what I call a "morgue" of things I've removed for one reason or another. In revising, I can often find a way to use bits and pieces from the morgue.

Best of luck with the revising should you go with it!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

HoldinHolden
11-03-2013, 01:24 AM
Currently, I'm writing down when each chapter occurred. I figure if it's going to be a storyline, it would need to be in SOME kind of chronological order, right?

It's hard because as I'm brainstorming how to actually do this, or what the arc should be, I run into road blocks. Either it's not ENOUGH of a story, or it doesn't make sense to be that way. Ack. It's super frustrating right now.

I definitely want to attempt this revision, I'm just stuck. Hoping it comes to me as I'm writing down when each story took place.

Old Hack
11-03-2013, 01:44 AM
Stories don't need to be told in chronological order but they do need to have some sort of order to them.

If you can't manage to put them into chronological order, or you think they don't work when arranged like that, you could consider working with story beats (I think that's what they're called). Read Blake Schneider's "Save The Cat". I hope I have the title and the spelling right there.

HoldinHolden
11-03-2013, 01:47 AM
The reason I think they do need to be (even if just loosely. I have two kids, my memory is crap) is because say I make the arc contain a chapter where my youngest isn't born yet. It wouldn't make sense for the previous chapters to include him. Or would it? Maybe I'm over-thinking this, haha. I need to consult my betas and pick their brains. I also need my brain to come up with an amazing idea.

thebird
11-03-2013, 01:54 AM
I got an R&R from an agent a few years ago. I didn't agree with the changes (the story had a lot of lighthearted elements, and the agent wanted the story to be darker and grittier), and I just sent the agent a quick response saying I appreciated their feedback but wouldn't be pursuing the suggested changes.

If I'd decided to follow through with the R&R, I'd do what Old Hack suggested, and give the agent a general idea of when you hope to have the revisions completed.

Also, I read a lot of parenting books written in essay form. I think I'd like a cohesive over-arcing narrative, but I don't know if I've ever read one that had it. I think it would be tricky to do, and I wish you luck with it!

Siri Kirpal
11-03-2013, 01:59 AM
Sat Nam!

Your Life As Story by Tristine Rainer does a good job of explaining how to find the arc in life stories, which is essentially what you're now going to do with the humorous parenting book. If you decide to tackle the project.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

HoldinHolden
11-03-2013, 02:02 AM
Also, I read a lot of parenting books written in essay form. I think I'd like a cohesive over-arcing narrative, but I don't know if I've ever read one that had it. I think it would be tricky to do, and I wish you luck with it!

The over-arcing narrative is what I'd be aiming for in this revision. My last book had one like that as well. I am hoping that would be enough of a story line to get a yes, but who knows. I do really like this agent a lot.

It's not that the MS is currently full of chapters on totally different subjects, they are all related, and I suppose the end wraps up as though they'd all been telling a story. Am I being confusing? I'm having trouble describing the state of the MS right now. Words failing me all over the place.

In this agent's opinion (and in the opinion of the previous two who rejected my MS) while my platform is great, without significantly larger numbers, a collection of essays may be harder to sell.

Quickbread
11-03-2013, 02:07 AM
You can always start at the end if that would make an exciting beginning and then tell the story that leads there. Or you can use an accordian type of structure that goes back and forth across time or situations. There are lots of structural options besides chronological. I would go with the order that "feels" good versus one that seems like you're "supposed to" use.

HoldinHolden
11-03-2013, 04:25 AM
Hm. Any suggestions (or websites) on how I would/could weave out of order stories together and still have it make sense? I love the way the book is ordered, of course it can change- but if I could leave it as is as far as order and still make it work that would be great.

I am sorry if these are silly or stupid questions- I've never been asked to revise my work before, especially in a way that changes the entire thing.

Siri Kirpal
11-03-2013, 06:42 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greetings)

Standard practice for non-fic is an Intro and somewhat of Afterword that gives your thoughts on what ties it all together.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

HoldinHolden
11-03-2013, 07:05 AM
Oh, I know that much! My last book had both, as does this one. It's the in-between for this one that I can't seem to organize and figure out.

Quickbread
11-03-2013, 12:17 PM
Hm. Any suggestions (or websites) on how I would/could weave out of order stories together and still have it make sense? I love the way the book is ordered, of course it can change- but if I could leave it as is as far as order and still make it work that would be great.

I am sorry if these are silly or stupid questions- I've never been asked to revise my work before, especially in a way that changes the entire thing.

They're definitely not silly questions. Revising can be daunting, especially if you've never done it before. But I think the idea of it is usually worse than the actual doing.

It's impossible to give suggestions without knowing the manuscript because what succeeds for one work may not for another. And ultimately, it's subjective to some degree. If you love the order, then it might make sense to start with that and see if you can build on it somehow to preserve what's already there structurally.

thelittleprince
11-03-2013, 02:55 PM
I've had success with an R&R, but for a work of fiction (this still might be relevant to you though...) I actually didn't respond to the email, mostly because it took a while to work out if it was an R&R or just a helpful rejection. It ended with a line like, "I'm not sure if this can be saved, but since you have put work into it you may not mind doing more." Confusing, right? But I agree with others that it would be a good idea to send a return email thanking the agent for their feedback and expressing your intention to revise your book.

I would avoid giving yourself too much of a time limit though. Don't rush it. I resubmitted 3 months after the R&R and it didn't do me any harm.

I do think your R&R sounds encouraging, the agent appears to really like your work! Good luck on working out the structure...I'm sure you have common threads in the essays that you can tease out and expand on, to create an overarching story arc.

HoldinHolden
11-03-2013, 11:22 PM
Thanks everyone. All of your comments are definitely encouraging. I know it's hard to be helpful when I've been vague- I've tried for so long to keep the whole premise under wraps that it's hard to expand without feeling like I'm letting the cat out of the bag. I don't often question my own work, so this is an especially tough spot to be in- although not a bad one.

HoldinHolden
11-04-2013, 11:22 PM
Just wanted to update to say that taking a step back and not stressing about it really helped. I THINK I have found the perfect arc. So now I have a beginning, middle, and end- I just have to get from each point to the next. That and tweaking each chapter to where I decide to put them (before or after arc is very important for how they will be written) I think it could be really good!

The note-card idea is I think what I'm going to go with to better order these. Thanks for the suggestion Siri!

thebird
11-05-2013, 01:04 AM
Good luck with the organization! Let us know how it goes. (Also, I love notecards for organization, too!)

Noman
11-09-2013, 03:04 AM
Just received glowing feedback from publishing house editor. She's asking for revisions, Although time consuming (she's asking that I cut a 120 K word manuscript to 100K), there's no guarantee of a contract.
Also, they offer no advance.
Given this "chance", I'd like opinions on the following:
1. Shouldn't they edit (or give guiding notes) themselves?
2. Should I just go for self publishing?

Captcha
11-09-2013, 03:54 AM
Just received glowing feedback from publishing house editor. She's asking for revisions, Although time consuming (she's asking that I cut a 120 K word manuscript to 100K), there's no guarantee of a contract.
Also, they offer no advance.
Given this "chance", I'd like opinions on the following:
1. Shouldn't they edit (or give guiding notes) themselves?
2. Should I just go for self publishing?

Would cutting 20K words make your book better? Do you trust the opinion of this editor and want to work with her? Is the house she works for reputable and do its books sell well?

And, honestly, do you want someone ELSE to decide which 20K words of your manuscript should be cut? Wouldn't you rather control that process yourself?

Old Hack
11-09-2013, 12:46 PM
Just received glowing feedback from publishing house editor. She's asking for revisions, Although time consuming (she's asking that I cut a 120 K word manuscript to 100K), there's no guarantee of a contract.
Also, they offer no advance.
Given this "chance", I'd like opinions on the following:
1. Shouldn't they edit (or give guiding notes) themselves?
2. Should I just go for self publishing?

Some thoughts.

The request that you cut 20k implies to me that your work has potential but needs tightening up. It's only a reduction of one sixth; and it's relatively easy to reduce a text by this proportion without affecting the plot while hugely improving the flow.

A novel of 100k is going to be more interesting to most publishers than one of 120k.

A novel which is publishable by one is publishable by others.

A publisher is not going to provide editorial notes on a novel it hasn't yet signed up.

If you do make the requested reduction don't assume you'll automatically get a contract once you're done; and if you do, don't assume there'll be no need for further editing.

Self publishing requires a huge amount of specialist knowledge and skill. Don't take this route lightly.

Siri Kirpal
11-10-2013, 07:19 AM
Just wanted to update to say that taking a step back and not stressing about it really helped. I THINK I have found the perfect arc. So now I have a beginning, middle, and end- I just have to get from each point to the next. That and tweaking each chapter to where I decide to put them (before or after arc is very important for how they will be written) I think it could be really good!

The note-card idea is I think what I'm going to go with to better order these. Thanks for the suggestion Siri!

Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Very glad you've found your arc, but I wasn't the one to suggest the note cards. Blessings on whoever did make the suggestion.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Siri Kirpal
11-10-2013, 07:28 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Noman, I personally hate it when a publishing house decides to remove lots of words and doesn't give me the right to do the cutting myself. As Catcha said, do you really want to hand that over to someone who hasn't got your vision in mind?

No, don't go with self-publishing just because you've been asked to revise and resubmit. Either do the revisions if they feel right to do, or look elsewhere. Self-publishing is for people who like to do their own PR and who have entrepreneurial skills or who have a ready market (like their own workshops). If none of those things applies, I wouldn't self-publish.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

blacbird
11-10-2013, 08:35 AM
The only "standard procedure" familiar to me is I submit stuff, and never hear anything back.

caw