The Next Circle of Hell, Vol. 2

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

Fuchsia Groan

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Hi, Quickbread! It’s so good to see you back, and I’m so glad you wrote something you love; I’m crossing everything and hoping your agent loves it too! Is it lit fic like your other one?

Harlequin, I also followed my cover artist on IG. I’ve fallen in love with his work, which includes some really cool posters for horror movie revivals. And now that I’ve seen a sketch of the cover illo, I’m so, so excited about it.
 

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Ooh, fingers very much crossed your agent responds positively to the book of your heart, Quickbread! The wait is agonising, isn't it, especially if you've had an agent turn a book down before. How long does it normally take your agent to respond?

My cover artist only posts finished and announced work on IG, which is probably for the best as I imagine seeing snippets would be maddening! I don't know when I'll see a cover for my YA - the publishers had a few options then decided to go back to the drawing board.
 

Quickbread

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Fuchsia, hi! So glad to see some familiar "faces" around here. Thanks for the good wishes. Yes, this novel is lit fic like the last one, but it's so much stronger. I've actually had it in process for 10 years. I'm going to be really disappointed if my agent has issues with it. I am super excited about it. It's got a bit of an unconventional structure, so that's why I'm a little unsure what she'll think. Thanks for all the crosses. I could use them!

RaggyCat, thank you! Huge congratulations on your YA deal! Yes, the wait is awful. My agent is sloooow to read -- but very fast to reply to emails -- so at least I know she hasn't forgotten me. I sent her my MS originally in mid-March, and when I followed up in mid-June, she still hadn't gotten to it, so I sent her an updated version with some new reader feedback. In fairness, when I sent the earlier version, she warned me she was taking about 8-10 weeks on manuscripts. So, hopefully soon?

Has anyone noticed if publishing has gone quiet this summer like in normal years, or are people pretty much working full steam ahead?
 
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A.P.M.

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I sent the book I was working on off to my agent, finally. Now she has three of mine. I intend to finish another within the next few months. I hope I'm not annoying... XD. I just have to always be writing something. She did say when she first signed me though that she liked that I was prolific.

Quickbread, I've heard some musings on Twitter (but twitter, so take with a grain of salt) that publishing in general has been glacial and agents/editors are a bit burnt out and digging out as things start up again after the pandemic.
 

RaggyCat

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I've heard quite a bit about publishing being slow right now, too. There's a good piece about this on Jennifer Laughran's Twitter. It's not a surprise that everyone is playing catchup - everything I've heard suggests publishing stalled for a few months last year, and so many publication dates have been moved since.

Thanks on the congrats, Quickbread! :cool: I really hope you hear back from your agent soon - that's a while to wait, though not outside the realm of normal, by my experience. My first agent used to take about two months to feedback when I sent her manuscripts, and that was pre-pandemic.

Welcome to the "waiting to hear back from agents" club, A.P.M. :p I'm glad I have more company! I was hopeful I'd hear back from my agent on mine this week - I know for a fact she started reading on Tuesday. However, she then let me know on Friday that she's now on holiday for two weeks, so I'll be waiting a while yet - which is fine. I don't mind waiting so long as I know I'm waiting. At least I can chill out the next two weeks now rather than being on the edge of my seat in entirely self-inflicted madness!
 
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TeresaRose

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So nice to see everyone, and congratulations on your successes. For now, I'm shelving querying agents, and taking a journey down self-publishing Avenue. Still learning a lot about it. Like most things, there are advantages, disadvantages. I first started just sort of experimenting with some novella-length books, learning the ins and outs.
 

litdawg

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Good to meet you, Quickbread! Congratulations to you and others in the "waiting on agent to read" club! I aspire to that status by Labor Day.
 
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The Marked Tree

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Hi all!

I'm new here and just about to go on submission for the first time - I write funny commercial/bookclub fiction (I aspire to be Katherine Heiney). My agent is sending me her submission list next week, so that won't be terrifying at all.

If anybody has any tips for dealing with the neuroticism, that would be great. How do you stop the bit of your brain seeking to convince you your agent has realised they've made a terrible mistake and is too polite to tell you?
 

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Hi again, TeresaRose! Good luck with self-pub. I don't know loads about it, but I do know there's a lot to learn. Plenty of posters on AW who are seasoned in it, though.

Has anyone in the "waiting to hear back from agent" club heard anything, or are we all twiddling our thumbs?

Welcome, The Marked Tree! Going out on sub is terrifying, and plays to the neurotic part of our brain. Remind yourself that to have got to this point, your agent must believe in you, and believe that she can sell your MS, especially if it's the MS she signed you for. She wouldn't put the work in if she didn't. My best advice about handling sub is to write something new, if you can. It will divert your brain from fixating on sub, and also help cushion any rejections. Oh, and, if you can, agree with your agent on when she'll feedback to you, so you don't wind up staring at your inbox daily willing an email to appear.
 

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Hi all!

I'm new here and just about to go on submission for the first time - I write funny commercial/bookclub fiction (I aspire to be Katherine Heiney). My agent is sending me her submission list next week, so that won't be terrifying at all.

If anybody has any tips for dealing with the neuroticism, that would be great. How do you stop the bit of your brain seeking to convince you your agent has realised they've made a terrible mistake and is too polite to tell you?
Welcome, The Marked Tree! I love the sound of your book! My best advice echoes Raggy’s—write a new book. I find that nothing takes the sting away from a rejection like a new project you’re excited about.
Raggy - Aah! I hope you hear back from your agent soon. Waiting is just the woooorst!
 
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Elle.

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Hi all!

I'm new here and just about to go on submission for the first time - I write funny commercial/bookclub fiction (I aspire to be Katherine Heiney). My agent is sending me her submission list next week, so that won't be terrifying at all.

If anybody has any tips for dealing with the neuroticism, that would be great. How do you stop the bit of your brain seeking to convince you your agent has realised they've made a terrible mistake and is too polite to tell you?

Welcome and good luck with the submission process.

I agree with Raggy and Putputt about getting busy writing something new. Something else that can help is to ask your agent to send you an update once a week on a specific day instead of contacting you every time an editor gets back to them. Like that you won't have to obsessively refresh your inbox for news.
 
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RaggyCat

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I should hear back from my agent soon, Putputt! She's been on holiday a couple of weeks (which at least means I haven't been staring at my inbox).
 

The Marked Tree

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Thanks for the welcome, guys! I almost feel better about the rejections I'll be getting on sub because that's business, if that makes sense - there were only a couple of agent rejects which stung when I was querying. I'm sure I'll be feeling differently when they start to trickle in.
 

aceafer

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Hi all. I wondered if I could have some advice about agent response times? I have a US agent, if there's cultural context. Basically, my agent is very editorial, which I wanted as I knew I had some issues in my MS that I couldn't fix myself. We've gone back and forth on edits a few times, every time I get an edit letter and line edits and I know that they share the MS with the interns at the agency for feedback also. I've totally agreed with every round of feedback and found it incredibly useful, so no issues there.

The problem is that it can take any time from one month to 3+ (currently) to hear back. I know it's not just me, because I reached out to one of their other clients, who has the same experience. Weirdly, my biggest round of edits came back after a month, but this round has just hit three and counting and they were my smallest edits.

I'm concerned because a) we're supposed to be going on sub this year and we're already halfway through the year and b) I feel like YA horror is very on trend right now and I'm scared of missing the boat, I suppose, although I'd assume my agent knows better than I do about trends, etc.

I'm starting to think maybe I should part ways after this book goes on sub and find someone who is faster but I don't know if that's unreasonable or if anyone else would even be faster! I have nothing bad to say about them apart from this and I love their feedback, but it just feels like a very long timeframe to deal with and I feel like there's wasted time for me. (They don't give me any expectation of when I will hear back, either).

Maybe I'm being impatient? Maybe it wouldn't be any better? It doesn't help that I did get two offers of rep and a LOT of "If you just fix X issue, I'd love to see this again" so maybe I'm grass-is-greener syndrome? All thoughts & advice appreciated!
 

Elle.

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Hi aceafer,

I'm not sure I'm the best point of comparison as my agent is scarily fast (the longest I've waited for edits feedback so far is about 2 weeks).

I haven't been in publishing for long but it seems to be hasty. How long have you been with your agent? Is this your first book with them? You mentioned it takes a long time to hear back, but what's the quality of the feedback you get? Is it helping making your MS even better?

My other question would be — have you spoken to your agent about your concerns and the submission schedule? Do they have a date in mind? How many more passes do they think before the MS is ready?

It is something to get used to because, again from my short experience in publishing, things tend to move at a glacial pace in this industry and deadlines seem to be often pushed back and everything takes longer than expected. The publishing journey is very much stop and start, i.e. something happens, then nothing for a few weeks/months, then something else happens, then another wait, etc... Edits feedback with a publisher can take a while too.

Others with more experience can weight in, but my advice would be to speak to your agent about your concerns about missing the boat and ask for an update about the submission schedule. Then wait to see how submission goes, and how your agent performs during the sub process. The grass is always greener on the other side, but is your agent right for you? In my opinion an author should leave because the relationship with their agent is not working/fulfilling not because of the lure that there might be better out there (does that make sense?).

I hope this helps.
 

aceafer

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Hi aceafer,

I'm not sure I'm the best point of comparison as my agent is scarily fast (the longest I've waited for edits feedback so far is about 2 weeks).

I haven't been in publishing for long but it seems to be hasty. How long have you been with your agent? Is this your first book with them? You mentioned it takes a long time to hear back, but what's the quality of the feedback you get? Is it helping making your MS even better?

My other question would be — have you spoken to your agent about your concerns and the submission schedule? Do they have a date in mind? How many more passes do they think before the MS is ready?

It is something to get used to because, again from my short experience in publishing, things tend to move at a glacial pace in this industry and deadlines seem to be often pushed back and everything takes longer than expected. The publishing journey is very much stop and start, i.e. something happens, then nothing for a few weeks/months, then something else happens, then another wait, etc... Edits feedback with a publisher can take a while too.

Others with more experience can weight in, but my advice would be to speak to your agent about your concerns about missing the boat and ask for an update about the submission schedule. Then wait to see how submission goes, and how your agent performs during the sub process. The grass is always greener on the other side, but is your agent right for you? In my opinion an author should leave because the relationship with their agent is not working/fulfilling not because of the lure that there might be better out there (does that make sense?).

I hope this helps.

This is so helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful reply, I really do appreciate it. I've been with my agent for just over a year, and we've been spending that time on edits, and it is my first book with them. The quality of the feedback in my opinion is really strong, and I definitely think we've improved my book massively - the only issue really is the timeframe. I think part of this is that I see a lot of discourse online about timeframes and time spent editing and my experience doesn't seem to match up with others which is making me a little insecure.

I haven't, actually - I did check in about the timeframe and they said they're still reading but hope to get back to me soon. I definitely think if it's another month I will maybe ask if we're still looking at going on sub this year. I know a lot of times when I read people's posts the answer always seems to be "just talk to/ask your agent" but it feels so intimidating to do so, which is totally on me!

It makes perfect sense - and I do like my agents and feel like they really 'get' me and my book - so you're right that it could be hasty/grass-is-greener and I'd hate to leave an otherwise good relationship because of one potentially minor issue and then end up with someone who is worse or doesn't understand me.

Thank you again - this is definitely very helpful and I appreciate it.
 
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A.P.M.

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I heard back from my agent this weekend with both good and bad news. It looks like the book I feared wouldn't sell likely won't sell, so she wants to backburner it for a year or two and see if the market changes. So not great. But she does love the book I sent, sent some some helpful edits, and is eager to put it on sub, so that is great. From one to another.

The right answer to when a book doesn't sell really is to just write another.
 

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Aceafer - I'm biased because I've had my time wasted by slow agents before and I hated it so, so much. I think anywhere over 1 month per round of edit is too long, unless it's just a one-time thing. I understand that life gets in the way, and since we're in a pandemic, things might be moving slower, but 3 months is ridiculous IMO. And since you said this is something that is repeatedly happening, it doesn't sound like it's a case of "something cropped up," it sounds like this is just how your agent works.

Does your agent have good sales? I know of at least one top agent who is always getting major deals but he does take a while to edit and make sure that the MS is as perfect as it can be before going on sub. In that case, I think that's more understandable.

I would have a talk and definitely voice your concerns. I totally agree with what Elle said about asking if they have a submission schedule in mind. I hope your agent listens to your concerns and gets things moving!

ETA:
Cross-posted with APM! Ack, sorry to hear about putting the book to rest, APM. But great news about the new one! I hear you...the only thing that kept me going through years of books dying on sub was really to write another. I hope this one is the one for you!
 

aceafer

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Aceafer - I'm biased because I've had my time wasted by slow agents before and I hated it so, so much. I think anywhere over 1 month per round of edit is too long, unless it's just a one-time thing. I understand that life gets in the way, and since we're in a pandemic, things might be moving slower, but 3 months is ridiculous IMO. And since you said this is something that is repeatedly happening, it doesn't sound like it's a case of "something cropped up," it sounds like this is just how your agent works.

Does your agent have good sales? I know of at least one top agent who is always getting major deals but he does take a while to edit and make sure that the MS is as perfect as it can be before going on sub. In that case, I think that's more understandable.

I would have a talk and definitely voice your concerns. I totally agree with what Elle said about asking if they have a submission schedule in mind. I hope your agent listens to your concerns and gets things moving!

ETA:
Cross-posted with APM! Ack, sorry to hear about putting the book to rest, APM. But great news about the new one! I hear you...the only thing that kept me going through years of books dying on sub was really to write another. I hope this one is the one for you!

Thank you, this is also very useful! Yes, it seems to be one month minimum and this latest one has just passed the three month mark. I did reach out to one of their other clients who said that it's basically the same for her, and she's been with them since before the pandemic (I signed during).

They have okay sales? Not like top agent I don't think, but at a reputable agency and they have deals on Publishers Marketplace that I think are pretty okay? I don't mind the edits but it's taken over a year now and it's been about four rounds of edits I think which doesn't really seem that many. Especially as this last one was not a lot of changes at all, honestly.

Do you think I should email again and sort of ask about sub or just wait to hear back? As I did nudge the other week, but just got the standard 'still reading' response. It does just feel like a very long time, as I'm on the next book now and feel like we could be on sub and focusing on the next project if there weren't so many months in between. It just feels so difficult, because there aren't any issues other than this one, but I'm not sure how big of a deal this one is/should be, and it does just feel like it's dragging out and I'm sort of stuck in limbo. But I don't have any other experiences with agents and I don't know if it would potentially be worse or not worth it to go elsewhere, or how I would even approach it.

I really do appreciate everyone's help on this!
 

Elle.

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I know a lot of times when I read people's posts the answer always seems to be "just talk to/ask your agent" but it feels so intimidating to do so, which is totally on me!

Thank you again - this is definitely very helpful and I appreciate it.

Glad it was helpful.

I can completely relate. I had some questions recently but thought 'must not disturb my agent she is very busy dealing with all her clients' until it dawned on me 'you are her client, you dummy!!'
 
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TeresaRose

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Hi again, TeresaRose! Good luck with self-pub. I don't know loads about it, but I do know there's a lot to learn. Plenty of posters on AW who are seasoned in it, though.
Thanks, Raggy Cat. I have another novel, I'm ready to try querying again to another small handful of agents. Fingers crossed for you that your agent gets back with good news for you!
 

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Thank you, this is also very useful! Yes, it seems to be one month minimum and this latest one has just passed the three month mark. I did reach out to one of their other clients who said that it's basically the same for her, and she's been with them since before the pandemic (I signed during).

They have okay sales? Not like top agent I don't think, but at a reputable agency and they have deals on Publishers Marketplace that I think are pretty okay? I don't mind the edits but it's taken over a year now and it's been about four rounds of edits I think which doesn't really seem that many. Especially as this last one was not a lot of changes at all, honestly.

Do you think I should email again and sort of ask about sub or just wait to hear back? As I did nudge the other week, but just got the standard 'still reading' response. It does just feel like a very long time, as I'm on the next book now and feel like we could be on sub and focusing on the next project if there weren't so many months in between. It just feels so difficult, because there aren't any issues other than this one, but I'm not sure how big of a deal this one is/should be, and it does just feel like it's dragging out and I'm sort of stuck in limbo. But I don't have any other experiences with agents and I don't know if it would potentially be worse or not worth it to go elsewhere, or how I would even approach it.

I really do appreciate everyone's help on this!
I would wait two weeks after the last nudge before emailing again and asking for a sub schedule. I agree with Elle, publishing is rife with delays and seemingly endless waiting, but I feel like because of that, your agent should be the last person adding to delays. She should be expediting the process for you, hounding your publisher for notes or news and so on.

It's also worth taking the time to think about what you want and what kind of work ethic is the best fit for you. I have a couple of friends who are generally really chill and want to gently release books every couple of years or so, so they are totally fine with their agents taking longer to read their work. I think this is great and very wise of them to figure out what works for them! So if you don't mind the wait, then I think that's okay. But if you do, then be honest and put your foot down. Your agent should respect your time too.

Haha, sorry for the rant, this is just such a pet peeve of mine! And obviously I'm toootally not bitter at all about my shmagents wasting a year of my life, nope, not at all! (I think I'm even more bitter because this shmagent is still an agent and every time I see her get another client I just want to reach into my computer screen and scream, "RUUUNNNN.")
 

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SO proud of you LitDawg! I think it's so important, getting to the core: that's she's interested in you as a writer and your career more than any particular book. That is so reassuring and such a testament to your abilities as a writer. Congratulations.

I haven't been around much lately because I am still in the icky finding-a-new-agent stage and have been feeling rather down about the whole thing. I have taken the book as far as I can without either a major epiphany or some skilled assistance and I am so eager to get moving again. My current agent has not contacted me and never does or will except to send a royalty statement. I can't tell you how helpful it is to read about all the struggles you folks are going through. I feel much less alone. Keep the faith! I am trying to.
 
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Hey, A.P.M, I'm sorry it looks as though that may be it for your sub book. But news that your agent loves your new book has come at a good time, and it might be that this bookis *the* book. I'm glad you've been able to write and have something new you love while you've been waiting.

Best of luck on the hunt, TeresaRose. Glad you've got another book ready to go!

Carrie, did you officially break up with your current agent/does she know you're hunting? I know before AW went down you were talking about it, but I can't quite remember if you did or not?

I don't have anything new to add to Aceafer's question, but I've been reading everyone's replies with interests. I really think agent response time varies a lot, and it's maddening trying to work it out. I don't think this applies right now, but one thing I have found is that there are certain times of year where agents are slower to response, mostly around book fair time, but all of those are kind of up in the air due to current circumstanes anyway.

Nothing to report here, only small nugget of happy is that I got to see my October book listed in the Bookseller, which was sweet... They spelt my surname incorrectly which I was a bit "wah, noooo" about but then again there was an author whose first name is Gabriella who was listed as a Gabriel, and that is way worse as an inaccuracy.
 

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Well, it was an up and down sort of day. My book was renewed by my publisher and I was rejected by another agent.

RaggyCat -- I never formally "broke up" with my agent because she simply is never in touch except to forward royalty statements. I was actually dreading the end of my contract with the publisher of my memoir because I'd have to talk to her again but, lo and behold! I just got a renewal contract, signed it, and sent it in. "Are you working on anything new?" they want to know. My lousy little publisher is delighted by how well my book is doing. I am not. Ah well!

(My publisher went from "little publisher" to "lousy little publisher" when they produced an audiobook without even asking if I might like to do the voice work. I have done commercial voice work, radio, and stage performance, so it seemed to me a no-brainer that they would ask me first but they did not, and my contract didn't stipulate it. Watch out for that if it is important to you! It was really important to me. Sigh.)

Anyway, I'm going to keep on putting out a query or two a week and plan to start writing something new very soon. My novel is quirky. It is difficult to categorize. Finding good comparables is not easy. But I still believe in it and I believe I will find an agent who will as well. This is not a game for the faint of heart.

It is lovely to hear you are all here, fighting the good fight! Take care. Happy word-making.
 

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