The Next Circle of Hell, Vol. 2

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Elle.

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Good luck to everyone out on submission.

@Lizmonster - that's a completely normal reaction!

Nothing much to report here. Waiting on feedback from my editor about the last round of edits and in the meantime working on book 2.
 

litdawg

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Hi everyone! I’m new to the boards.

I just got my first ever rejection from an editor while on submission. Ouch. This is definitely a different kind of hell, but I’m so thankful to have my agent to help me through this.

Welcome, Katie! I'm a weird one, I guess, because I got buzzes from my first few editor rejections. When I started this journey, getting my manuscript considered by the top publishing houses in my field was the goal. So Rs after full requests meant that I'd been seriously considered. I know it can be tough, but I hope you still take some validation as a writer from where you are at in this journey.

Hi, everybody.

I'm on sub, and it feels like I'm waiting for an execution.

How are y'all?

Still on sub here too. It's been seven months. About a half-dozen full requests, followed by Rs and about a dozen Rs from initial agent pitch. Sounds pretty normal to me. I have had a hard time reading and investing interest in much other than the news cycle and twitter for most of this awful year, so I don't expect much more from the publishing industry. That's a very unrepresentative yard-stick, I know, since I'm not a paid professional reading mss for acquisition, but it helps me cope. I hope slow news days start some time after 20 January.

I'm still on submission, and it's still painfully slow and quiet. Logically, I knew things wouldn't magically change with the new year, but I was still kind of hoping.

I'm with you, Laurel! I think we're stuck on the vine until the awfulness of the daily news cycle recedes a bit.
 

RaggyCat

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Welcome to the thread, Katie4747 and lizmonster! Sub does feel a bit like waiting for execution. My first agent used to say that you always got the easy rejections before the maybes/I'm interested - so I think in my sub experiences, I've always expected to start off with some Rs so they haven't got to me so badly. But everyone is different.

Laurel - yes I think it's slow for everyone, but on the plus side, editors have now got much more used to working from home practises so I don't think it will be as bad as it was middle of last year.

I'm over 20k into the book I'm contracted for and really enjoying it so far - the plot outline I put together is holding firm so far. Normally when writing I've gone off plan by this point so I'm quite pleased. My deadline of end of Feb still feels quite tight!

As for sub, my first round went out about 9 months ago and I think that's pretty much blown out. I doubt we'll get a response from the two outstanding editors after all this time. I'm just glad it was a small round as I now know in hindsight that we literally went out with it at the worst possible time.

(Please let me not kill this thread with this post - I've managed to do it twice now!)
 

lizmonster

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I'll kill the thread for you, RaggyCat. :)

I'm not actually sure how many places have my MS atm. I feel like this is maybe not the week to ask for crispness. But my brain misbehaves - it's times like this, when there's chaos everywhere, that I get most anxious about the things close to me.

Ugh.
 

RaggyCat

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I'll kill the thread for you, RaggyCat. :)

I'm not actually sure how many places have my MS atm. I feel like this is maybe not the week to ask for crispness. But my brain misbehaves - it's times like this, when there's chaos everywhere, that I get most anxious about the things close to me.

Ugh.

Whee I didn't kill the thread again! :)

It's a first week back at work for many people (and a weird week, too) so maybe not the week! I sometimes think I must be a slightly annoying client because I like to have a high level of information about exactly what's going on with a subbed MS, but it's not unreasonable to ask for details like this, IMO. I think from my experience too it's harder being on sub when you've been through it before (successfully or unsuccessfully) - comparisons are unhelpful. I was really quite breezy about it all the first time I was on sub in a way I slightly cringe at looking back!
 

Laurel

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I like to know exactly what's going on with a subbed MS, too. I especially want to know when rejections come in -- because if I think this information is being withheld/delayed, I'll start to assume that everyone has rejected it already and nobody had the heart to tell me!

I think being on sub gotten a little easier for me. I'm not refreshing my email quite as obsessively, at least.
 

Woollybear

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From the outside, it seems like agents ought to be able to keep a shared drive/spreadsheet that they keep their subbed/replies records in, for each client, and authors can then take a look when they feel the need to know a status.

Maybe it wouldn't help anything, but that's sort of how we do it in teaching.... enter the scores as assignments are graded, and each student can then see their own through the course management system. Cuts down a ton on students (worrying about and) bugging us to know what they got on a quiz, etc. (And students know that teachers don't want to be fielding those sorts of questions.)
 

lizmonster

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IME, a lot of agents are like a lot of attorneys: way behind on technology. That may be true of publishing in general, actually, as weird as that seems.

I told my agent I only wanted to hear about rejections if they were actionable - if they included information that might actually induce me to edit the book in a substantive way. I don't expect anything like that. But given my instructions I can hardly be cranky about hearing nothing. Sigh.
 

be frank

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I'm making a resolution to check in here more often this year. So ... hi. :hi:

I only ask my agent once a month for a summary of what's happening. For me, that lets me mostly forget I'm on sub and focus properly on the next MS -- I'm bad at splitting my focus between books!

And it's been sloooow (especially in MG from what I've seen/heard), so there's been limited updates to worry about. Everyone just seems to be very behind. Understandably, since *waves hands at the world*
 
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A.P.M.

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I've got an MG on sub and I'm still waiting. What with all that's been going on, I am not surprised things have been quiet. Gives me time to write more, at least, though I still always have that "you'll never sell anything" worry in the back of my mind.
 

Sonya Heaney

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Hey, everyone. Major internet issues here, so I'm having trouble loading this page (who knows if this will post!). I'm getting half-pages and having trouble reading posts.

Raggy - ugh. Sorry your sub doesn't seem to be working out. :(

be frank - that's interesting that MG is especially slow. I wonder why that is.

I actually heard back about my book on Christmas Eve! I'm doing some work on it for the MIRA imprint at the moment. Everyone at my publisher goes back to work today, so I'm guessing things will start happening again.

I need surgery on the 20th (nothing major), so as soon as that is over I'm going to be a lot happier than I was a few months ago.
 

RaggyCat

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I think agents keeping a spreadsheet relating to sub and responses would notch my anxiety right up and I'd check it obsessively! It is a sensible idea, though, and one used by so many other professions.

I wonder why MG in particular would be slow - more manuscripts on sub, popularity? MG has been having a nice time in the sun for sometime more, so it would make sense of agents were submitting more of it.

Sonya - Sub book is not yet dead - we have plenty more places to send it to - but I think my Round 1 is pretty much down and out. Luckily it wasn't a massive one. And if you're not on here much before your surgery date, with the tech issues, etc, I hope it goes smoothly and you feel a lot more comfortable afterwards!
 

be frank

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Ain't the NBN grand, Sonya? Totally worth the billions spent on it. <insert eye roll here> Hope your procedure goes smoothly! It's always a relief to get those types of thing out of the way, even they're routine.

Raggy, here's hoping for quick success in your second round. In retrospect, 2020 was ... um ... overall probably not great year to go on sub. But with no guarantees 2021 or beyond would be any better, what was the alternative? All we can do is suck it up and accept our lot. :) And omg, as a slow writer, your deadline makes me break out in flop sweat. I don't know how you fast writers do it, but I wish I knew the secret!

As for MG being slow, afaik, it's generally accepted that MG subs are slower than other age categories. Why? I do not know. Plenty still sell, it just takes longer to hear back from editors. I do have a theory about why it's been even slower than usual recently, but it's only my own personal hypothesis , so it's probably not worth sharing (I have no data aside from anecdotes and observation!).
 

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Okay. I finished my novel seven years ago, went out win submission five years a go. A lot of rejections a lot of heartbreak and at the end of the day, no deal. Agent didn't like the second book, and I just decided to give up for a while. Last week, I decided to go ahead with self-publishing because I felt bad that this thing I'd spent a lot of my life on was just sitting in my hard drive. Started putting together a cover design, started to do a five-year-later edit to see if it was still okay and I write my agent just to let her know, because she'd spent a lot of time on the book and every though it didn't sell, she'd earned me letting her know what I planned to do.

So I told her, and she wrote back asking to have another shot at sending it out. Five years is enough time, and she thinks the overall hopeful message of the book could resonate. I had moved on, but just the thought of going back on submission and getting another series of kind rejections has me petrified again. I'm going to do it -- and I guess I'm grateful she still wants too give it a shot -- but I find myself like Hawkeye in endgame, getting angry that someone was giving me hope.
 
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lizmonster

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So I told her, and she wrote back asking to have another shot at sending it out. Five years is enough time, and she thinks the overall hopeful message of the book could resonate. I had moved on, but just the thought of going back on submission and getting another series of kind rejections has me petrified again. I'm going to do it -- and I guess I'm grateful she still wants too give it a shot -- but I find myself like Hawkeye in endgame, getting angry that someone was giving me hope.

Best of luck with the sub, whiporee. I've come to loathe hope myself. I figure if I had no hope at all I'd be happier, but instead I have just a little tiny bit of it, which does very little except inflame all my sadness and bitterness.

My goodness, I sound like a pill. :)
 

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be frank, I think knowing what a total shower 2020 was has helped me feel a bit better about my first round sub. We literally sent my book out at the worst time (a couple of days before the UK lockdown, and a lot of publishers then were cutting their acquisitions and budgets because the future was so unknown - they relaxed a couple of months down the line when it became evident that publishing wasn't doing too badly, but that was too late for me). 2021 may also not be great, but publishing has figured itself out a bit, I think. And haha, I'm not normally a fast writer! More of a medium-speed one, really, but this book seems to be coming together quickly.

Whiporee, best of luck - it sounds like at the very least you have an agent who is prepared to fight for you, and that's worth a lot. She must really love the book! I do hope that now is a better time for your story - so much of sub success, after all, is about timing, and I do think hopeful stories have a massive market right now. I can understand that it feels like opening yourself up for hurt again, but it's not inevitable. I guess it's the second chance one rarely gets in this industry, and you can still self-publish after sub if it doesn't go to plan?

lizmonster, I relate! I felt the same for a long time (until really recently, actually), but felt under pressure to pretend not to be bitter when I really was, and that did no good at all.

I so want to go back to working on my YA thriller (not the book with the tight deadline, or the sub book)! I had some lovely beta feedback that's getting my brain all excited, but with that tight deadline I can't really afford to work on something else right now...
 

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I've just accepted that everything is going to take 3x as long as it used to. I'm coping by writing and subbing all kinds of things so I don't have just one book on my mind. I know that will only work for fast writers, but I'm a lot less depressed than I was a year ago. Rejections? Who cares now? Everything is crap!

Raggy - Ha! Now I can open the page (sort of!) I can actually see what you were saying about your book!

be frank - It's incredible how bad the NBN is. We got it in Canberra about a year after the rest of the country (because, of course we did), and it's somehow also knocked out our landline phone. I need to have a phone call with my editor in a few days, and my mobile broke, so I literally have no way of communicating with her. Zoom is out - the internet only works for a few minutes at a time! I've been going to the library to use their internet. The NBN people finally turned up to look at our situation - on Christmas Eve, when we were in the middle of cooking! And they couldn't fix it.
 

katie4747

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Thanks for the kind welcome!!

Since I'm new to having an agent and the submission process, I was wondering if you guys could share your experience about your next manuscript.

Did you wait until you were off of submission before sending your agent your new manuscript? Also, do you typically like to provide your agent with a pitch first and get the ok before writing? or do you not show your agent until the manuscript is completed and edited/polished?

I have a few ideas. So I'm wondering if I should send a few pitches to my agent and ask which they like best?

Also, I'm very curious. For those of you with agent's who haven't liked your next book -- how did they handle it? Did they just say no or did they ask you to revise? I'm a naturally anxious person so I'm worried my agent's going to hate my next project.
 

lizmonster

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Hi katie4747 - I think you could ask your agent whether or not they'd prefer to wait for a completed MS, but I suspect they'll be happy to chat with you. I've had two agents, and both have been happy to talk about future ideas. I suspect your agent would be willing to offer opinions about marketability, but it's so often in the execution. I'd say just open up the topic and ask what they think.
 

Laurel

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Thanks for the kind welcome!!

Since I'm new to having an agent and the submission process, I was wondering if you guys could share your experience about your next manuscript.

Did you wait until you were off of submission before sending your agent your new manuscript? Also, do you typically like to provide your agent with a pitch first and get the ok before writing? or do you not show your agent until the manuscript is completed and edited/polished?

I have a few ideas. So I'm wondering if I should send a few pitches to my agent and ask which they like best?

Also, I'm very curious. For those of you with agent's who haven't liked your next book -- how did they handle it? Did they just say no or did they ask you to revise? I'm a naturally anxious person so I'm worried my agent's going to hate my next project.

I wouldn't wait until submission ended before sending a new manuscript. The submission process could take months -- or longer -- so that could be a long wait. Also, you might need to do a lot of revisions before the manuscript is ready to send out, so it's probably good to get a head start on that. And if a publisher is interested in the first manuscript, they might want to know what else you've got. I would ask my agent before sending another manuscript, though, just to make sure it's okay. (I've never had an agent tell me not to send something, but sometimes the response time is pretty long, especially if things aren't urgent.)

Whether or not you should pitch ideas and get approval first is up to you and your agent. A lot of agents like this, but some agents don't. Personally, I've found that I don't like to pitch ideas to my agent at this stage, but I know it helps some writers, and it sounds like you want to, so that's fine. And yeah, things can get difficult when your agent doesn't like your next project. It happens, and when it does, you have to decide what you believe in more -- your agent or your project. I've seen authors leave their agent over this type of issue. I've also seen authors shelf projects.

Don't be afraid to talk to your agent about questions like these. Your agent's there to help you!
 

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Katie - Like others have said, I wouldn't wait until I was off submission to send over material from/a pitch for a new project to my agent, as sub can take ages! Also, I have been in the position, twice, of an editor interested in a sub book asking what I'm working on next. In those cases, it helps to have a synopsis you can whip out, or a pitch you can share (or your agent feels they can write).

What I typically did with agent #1 was share a pitch, then, when I could, share the first five chapters or so with a one page synopsis. She would feed back, then I'd get in touch with the full manuscript. With agent #2, I've shared a very detailed synopsis with her for my new book, though she hasn't yet seen any material from it. Going forwards, I think I'd be happier showing her opening material alongside the synopsis, for for various reasons, that hasn't happened this time.

I also know of people who pitch a number of their new ideas to an agent to get feedback, and then work on the ideas their agent feels has legs.

I'm someone who has unfortunately been in the position of an agent not liking their new book and it's probably been the worst part of my publishing journey to date. With the first book, agent gave some top level feedback via email and a call as to why she didn't like the book, and I completely rewrote it. She still didn't like it. So I shelved it, and moved onto another idea. She was very encouraging after seeing the first few chapters, but she didn't like the full manuscript enough to pitch even though there was lots she thought worked. I revised it, and she still didn't like it, so then I walked. Then for some reason I can't fully remember I ended up showing her a third draft which she thought was better, so then she pitched it to two editors who didn't want it and then decided not to pitch it further (this sucked so much). So yes, I did revise based on her feedback, but I'd imagine most agents would be more willing to work with you to improve a manuscript they didn't have a positive response to than perhaps mine was - I think she'd lost interest in me by this point, and was unlikely to pitch anything unless she thought it was super red hot guaranteed to sell. So don't be put off by this horror story! I don't regret walking and finding a new agent at all.
 

lizmonster

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I don't regret walking and finding a new agent at all.

I think this is something that doesn't get discussed enough: you can leave your agent. Sometimes you should leave your agent. Every (good) agency contract has a procedure for this; both of mine have been something like "60 days written notice from either side." It protects the agent, and it protects you. Easily half the agented authors I know personally no longer have their first agent; I know one writer who is on their fifth.

I'll also note something I learned too late: you can leave your agent in the middle of working on a book they've sold for you. They'll still get their percentage on the book. You'll lose their advocacy with the publisher, but sometimes it's worth it.
 

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As a newbie, I may be a bit slow on the uptake, but as an author who's only agent wound up in jail... assumed, not proven, I can relate. Over the years and with over a hundred rejection letters and emails from agents, one after getting an approval at a conference face to face, I have come to the conclusion that the literary agent business has shifted into the same mind frame as most of the entertainment industry, the search for the quick buck. These "professionals" see the success of JK Rowling and her Potter empire and then fixate on it, thinking that is where they want to be, managing an author like that. They ignore the over 40 rejection letters she received and the dozens of UK agents who now live in eternal humiliation for their out of hand rejection of what became a phenomenon. A quality agent, based on my extensive history with the breed is as rare as the Hope Diamond, but they are out there. Unfortunately for us, the only way to find one is similar to winning the lottery, and the odds are identical, we have to buy a ticket.

Because I was published, but ignored by management I did get an option memo from Graphic Audio, so four of the 11 books in my current series are now fullcast audio dramas. It made for a nice Christmas, but that was a couple of years ago. The Harry Potter reactions are few and extremely far between. Pity the literary managemt industry has no understanding of that.
 

mrsmig

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As a newbie, I may be a bit slow on the uptake, but as an author who's only agent wound up in jail... assumed, not proven, I can relate. Over the years and with over a hundred rejection letters and emails from agents, one after getting an approval at a conference face to face, I have come to the conclusion that the literary agent business has shifted into the same mind frame as most of the entertainment industry, the search for the quick buck. These "professionals" see the success of JK Rowling and her Potter empire and then fixate on it, thinking that is where they want to be, managing an author like that. They ignore the over 40 rejection letters she received and the dozens of UK agents who now live in eternal humiliation for their out of hand rejection of what became a phenomenon. A quality agent, based on my extensive history with the breed is as rare as the Hope Diamond, but they are out there. Unfortunately for us, the only way to find one is similar to winning the lottery, and the odds are identical, we have to buy a ticket.

Because I was published, but ignored by management I did get an option memo from Graphic Audio, so four of the 11 books in my current series are now fullcast audio dramas. It made for a nice Christmas, but that was a couple of years ago. The Harry Potter reactions are few and extremely far between. Pity the literary managemt industry has no understanding of that.

::sigh::

Can we please stop perpetuating the "J.K Rowling received dozens/40/100 rejections" myth? She landed an agent on her second try. The agent sold the book to Bloomsbury after 12 rejections.
 

lizmonster

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I understand you're a newbie, but I object to your characterization of publishing professionals (not "professionals"). Your experience doesn't extrapolate to an entire industry. I too had a non-optimal agent. Do they represent all agents, or even most? Absolutely not.

Describing trade publishing as nothing but a bunch of money-grubbing opportunists who'll toss you out on your ear if you don't hit the NYT bestseller list with your debut is wildly inaccurate. It's not a useful characterization for anyone, but in particular people who are at the start of what they hope will be a longer journey.
 
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