View Full Version : handling rewrite suggestions from agents

05-04-2007, 05:41 AM
I got a mixed email response from agent X who read my full and said several nice things about my characters, themes, writing and 3/4 of the story -- but said the ending was all wrong. That it was too heavy handed which I took to mean too plot heavy. ANd, Couldn't I find another way to bring my characters back together????

But what she did not say was that she wants to rep me and the book...just that she looked forward to my reply. I do see her point and do feel that it's worth rewriting my last forty pages (out of 300). I'm wondering how best to handle agent X. Meanwhile four other agents are reading my full and three are reading partials.

Any advice?

05-04-2007, 06:02 AM
First, what are these agent's credentials? Many agents come to agenting after spending some years as editors. The opinions of these agents, I believe, should be given serious consideration.

Alternately, has this agent made significant sales in your field or genre? If so, again, serious consideration is warranted. If neither of these things are the case, you might want to ask yourself how valid her opinion is.

And equally important, how do you feel about her assessment? If you think she's way off base that's one thing, but if, as you say, you can see her point, that's a pretty good indication that she might be on to something. No agent takes the time to give that kind of feedback unless they think there is something in the ms that is worth pursuing.

You might want to try a rewrite of the ending and see if you like it better. At best, she'll eventually want to rep you. At worst, you'll end up with a stronger ms to submit to others. You can contact her and say you'll be working on it, keeping her suggestions in mind. If you like how it comes out, you can send it to her. If you don't, there are still other agents reading.

The only thing that's problematical is if you incorporate her suggestions, strengthen your ms, and then use that stronger ms to sign with another agent you think is better. Bad karma, I think.

05-04-2007, 06:50 AM
I'd be tripping over my own fingers getting the changes typed up.

05-04-2007, 06:51 AM
I'd be tripping over my own fingers getting the changes typed up.

Me too! (Once I got over the fact that the communication from the agent was something other than a rejection).

05-04-2007, 07:16 AM
My agent said something similar about my ending. In my response email I thanked her for the compliments, told her I'm always eager to make my book stronger, and then asked if she'd like to see the revised version once it was complete. This was before an offer was made. She agreed and made an offer (and suggested more revisions) a few days after I sent her the changes.

05-04-2007, 07:18 AM
This kind of feedback is invaluable.
Often my first reaction to suggestions on my work is to bristle but upon reflection I find they have merit. We are often too close to our work to be objective.
Of course it is just one agent's opinion.
While you have other agents reading - take to time to implement the changes and see if the story improves.
FYI rewriting 40 pages is NOTHING!!!

05-04-2007, 07:19 AM
My agent asked me to cut at least 10 000 words. And this was before any offer was made.

I cut 10 000 words. Didn't think I could do it. Wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. But dang my novel was better for it! (and she did sign me in the end)

05-04-2007, 07:17 PM
Since Agent X seems to be inviting you to initiate a dialogue, you might tell her that she has given you a lot to think about, and would she be interested in reconsidering the ms. if you make the suggested changes. I wouldn't be in a huge rush to change unless she says yes.

You might also consider waiting to hear from the other agents. If any of them highlight a similar problem, there may well be something wrong. Otherwise, this is just one person's opinion--an informed opinion, certainly, but not necessarily correct. If you make changes to order every time they're suggested, you run the risk of winding up with a piecemeal manuscript that pleases no one.

Of course, if you feel that Agent X's suggestion has pinpointed a major problem you didn't recognize before she highlighted it, the change may be the right thing to do. It is possible, however, to be unduly swayed by others' opinions, especially when they're authority figures. If you're really seriously considering making the change, I suggest you sit on the idea for a week or two and see if it continues to feel right.

- Victoria

05-04-2007, 09:01 PM
Thank you all seven for your thoughtful suggestions on how to process and handle this.

Agent X is highly experienced and was an editor prior to agenting. ANd she did have a lot of nice things to say about the ms. which is a literary novel built around a menage a trois between a woman and two brothers...so relationship is everything in this novel.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, Her story point is sticking with me and opening up possibilities for a more character driven resolution (rather than an accident) which feels increasingly right to me...although I haven't yet figured out how it will play out entirely. BUT I have begun a rewrite.

So, I'll keep in touch with Agent X (who's already exchanged another email with me - after I said she struck a chord with me - reiterating her first point) and ask her straight out whether she'll rep me if I do the rewrite to her satisfaction.

I'll also eagerly await other agent's responses, esp any hard feedback to support or differ with agent X. I do feel if I and agent X do feel good about the rewrite, naturally I would want to work with her, since by then we'd both have invested in the ms.


05-07-2007, 10:27 PM
I had a similar question last week - everyone says it's a good sign. I think they just want to see if we are capable enough writers to change it before they get theirselves into something. When I send something out and I get asked to rewrite now - I just take it as a positive. Even if they don't take the script - you've got some free inside advice! Hey free is free! =)

Good luck!