The Next Circle of Hell, Vol. 2

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

iblamejane

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I swear the waits to hear back about sub are longer than they used to be pre-pandemic, or maybe that's simply my erroneous perception of time!

Hi, iblamejane! I think what you're experiencing is very common to many of us on this thread... sub starts out as enormously exciting, but then it becomes very hard to manage and demoralising. I'd say you're doing the best thing by detaching a little and working on something new that is standalone but has a nod to the past book. I know someone who writes romance whose first sub book didn't make it, but the second sub book (featuring a supporting character from book 1 as the MC) did, and that was no problem at all. Hang in there, it's tough, and you're in good company here.
Thanks for the kind reply! I am glad to have found a circle (in real life and online) of people slogging through it with me who help me feel less demoralized when the mean reds hit.

Good luck with your pitch to your publishing house! Sounds nice to be getting encouraging news about your work, even if it's not a confirmed sale yet.

Good luck to all who are still waiting (which is all of us all the time, I realize, but some times are more anticipatory than others).

I had a mini-update from my agent, per my request. One more house passed, so a handful remain. She said she'll nudge until she hears back from them all because she hasn't had a consistent sense of what the problem(s) with the ms could be. I feel really okay! Gotta keep moving forward until we know for sure (and beyond).
 
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Harlequin

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Apologies for being quiet. I've just been so insanely busy it's unreal, though that's probably a good thing. We ended up netting 3 special editions in the UK which is a good thing and lucky, but also means. A lot of behind the scenes work for everyone.
 

literaryguitar

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Apologies for being quiet. I've just been so insanely busy it's unreal, though that's probably a good thing. We ended up netting 3 special editions in the UK which is a good thing and lucky, but also means. A lot of behind the scenes work for everyone.
What are special editions?
 

Elle.

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What are special editions?
They are editions usually designed for a particular store or outlet and involve special design like sprayed edges, special cover, or additional content such as delete scene, short story or an extract from the author's next book. They are also usually signed and limited in number.

In the UK, places like Waterstones and Golsboro Books have limited print special editions.
 
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literaryguitar

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They are editions usually designed for a particular store or outlet and involve special design like sprayed edges, special cover, or additional content such as delete scene, short story or an extract from the author's next book. They are also usually signed and limited in number.

In the UK, places like Waterstones and Golsboro Books have limited print special editions.
Wow, that sounds pretty amazing that you got that! What genre book is it again?
 

Fuchsia Groan

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I’ve been busy because I’ve been speed drafting on a deadline. We’ll see what comes of that.

Meanwhile, my YA thriller We Made It All Up comes out in less than two months. No buzz about it yet, no foreign sales, only two trade reviews I know of. I had a good talk with my publicist. My personal promo strategy consists almost entirely of posting TikToks six times a week, which may be helpful or a time-wasting folly, I don’t know.
 
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literaryguitar

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I had a good talk with my publicist. My personal promo strategy consists almost entirely of posting TikToks six times a week, which may be helpful or a time-wasting folly, I don’t know.
Is your publicist someone at your publishing house, or did you hire a publicist separately?
 
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RaggyCat

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iblamejane - It's hard when there's no clear consensus of feedback, isn't there? I sometimes think it would be easier to deal with Rs if all the editors pointed to the same thing which you could then tweak... A lack of consensus probably simply means the book hasn't found the right editor yet.

Well done on the special edition, Harlequin!

Fuchsia - Can you publisher also support your TikTok videos - sharing, collabs, etc? That might help boost your excellent work. TBH, I think TikTok is really where it's at with YA book promotion so even though it's putting the weight of things on your shoulder, it's probably the best opportunity. I don't think if it's the same in other countries, but most chain bookshops I go into now have special "TikTok" sections within YA, and those always seem to draw the most attention, by my observation.

literaryguitar - I know people who have hired publicists but in most cases, publicist will relate to a specific person at the publishing house. It really helps to have a named person there to talk to about publicity rather than it going through editor/agent. I really like my publicist, she's great.
 

Wholegrain

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Dropping in again (I just changed my forum picture to something more appropriate.)

I'm finally going query my agent with the first 90K words of a new epic fantasy series next weekend - been working on this for ages. I'm dreadfully excited. Going on sub will be as anxiety-producing as the last time I'm sure.

literaryguitar - you'll only get a publicist if you are lead or close to lead title. I have the same publisher as someone on this same thread (!) and our experiences are markedly different. I *only* have an editor for example, and she's often too busy to deal with me so it does have a follow-on effect. It may be something I will address when/if I get a new publisher.
 
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RaggyCat

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Oh good luck, Wholegrain! That is VERY exciting. I hope it goes well for you and your agent loves it.

I am UK based and all the other authors I speak to in the UK all have their designated publicist and a lot of us aren't lead titles or close to - but I can't speak for those publicishing in other territories or for the small or indie publishing houses. The distinction we tend to encounter is *how much* our publicists do (or are able to do) for us. Most of the publicity I've received (not being a lead title) is my publicist seeking our free or low cost promo opportunities.
 

A.P.M.

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I'm still here, but there isn't much to report. Book 3 is on sub now, and has been for about a month. No news though. After having two books die on sub my hope is basically gone. I'm working on another book as well, but my idea well is running low right now due to discouragement. Sub life is hard.
 

Wholegrain

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Oh good luck, Wholegrain! That is VERY exciting. I hope it goes well for you and your agent loves it.

I am UK based and all the other authors I speak to in the UK all have their designated publicist and a lot of us aren't lead titles or close to - but I can't speak for those publicishing in other territories or for the small or indie publishing houses. The distinction we tend to encounter is *how much* our publicists do (or are able to do) for us. Most of the publicity I've received (not being a lead title) is my publicist seeking our free or low cost promo opportunities

Thank you! As for publicists - maybe mine died at their desk in early 2020 and nobody has worked it out yet! :))

I've decided to put it behind me as a learning experience - best in future to go with someone who loves my book, and not be blinded by the fact that they're a Big 5 top-of-the-genre but only so-so in terms of enthusiasm. I (will) have three nice looking hardcovers on my shelf with a little bit of foil on them, so it's not entirely lost.

It'll be interesting to see how the "Right of First Refusal" works as I contractually have to give Le Unenthusiastic Publisher a crack at making an offer. 90% of me is certain they will pass, but if they make an offer I'll have to wonder: do I trust them with another project, or do I jump into the unknown and go on Sub?
 

RaggyCat

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Absolutely, Wholegrain, and you can only make decisions based on what you know at the time. As I may have said, I had a less than ideal experience with being published by Big 5 myself that had me feeling like I'd rather not publish with one of them again. I did also have a right of first refusal with my Big 5 publisher. They said no, which was just as well - I felt really iffy about working with them and their lack of enthusiasm again, so if they had said yes it might have been a tough decision. If they've been unenthusiastic, I think you're right in your instinct that it will probably be a pass (unless they LOVE the new book) - but they may give you some useful feedback before a wider sub round.

A.P.M - I completely get your ideas well being dry at the moment! Books dying on sub is horrible and really dents your confidence/enjoyment. I hope this new project is one you can enjoy despite everything. Good luck for your Book 3 - one month is nothing!
 

skydragon

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So, hi! I haven't posted in here since... 2018. I don't know if anyone remembers me and my icon is in need of an update, ha. I only remembered my username after crawling through this thread to find it! But I've been on sub again for three weeks and I'm slowly going crazy.

I posted previously about a YA contemporary I'd written that didn't sell, even though it went to acquisitions. I think in my last post I said I was writing a MG, as the YA market was so oversaturated. Well, that MG also did not sell. So I have moved away from the children's market completely. It's incredibly difficult right now in the UK.

My project currently on sub is adult fantasy. I think it's the best thing I've ever written and something about it feels different. I'm head over heels in love with it. My agent's response to the initial idea floored me (much excited, shouty emailing). With my YA and MG projects, I was able to let go of them pretty quickly after going on sub. With this one, I still think about it constantly. The characters won't leave me alone; they feel like real people. I already have sequel ideas coming out of my ears (although it can stand alone). But with two other failed projects behind me (and realising I posted in here four years ago and still haven't sold anything!), I also feel sick at the prospect of not selling again. I've spent 19 months on this book, it's everything I love in fantasy, and I really believe in it. If it doesn't sell, I'm not sure I have it in me to try again.
 

Nether

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It's very quiet in here! No news from anyone?

The past years' thread that I read was so active! Once I got to the end and joined the forum, it seems to have largely gone away. Maybe from being down for 6 months last year... sad, because there doesn't seem to be any other forum specifically for writers on sub...

Well, there's the pandemic slowdown that's probably limiting the news. As for me, I have to get through the first circle before I can hit the second. 🤷‍♂️

Actually, if circle 1 is querying and 2 is submission, what are the remaining 7?
 

angeliz2k

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Welcome back, skydragon! I'm sorry those two books didn't sell. That sounds really disheartening.

As far as Big 5 versus more enthusiastic indies--I agree the enthusiasm for the project is super important. I was a little startled, honestly, by my agent's enthusiasm about the project we're subbing now. I think it was because of my cynicism and my poor experiences with the publishing biz. The thought running underneath everything was: Sure she's enthusiastic now, but will she stay enthusiastic for the long-haul? Also, this business sucks, and it's hard to see someone acting like it might not suck, ya know? Is she naive, do her experiences really tell her that publishing doesn't chew up writers and spit them out, or am I being overly cynical/sensitive?

In any case, it's hard to gauge sincerity and whether someone's enthusiasm will last. But I think that if I ever do get offers, enthusiasm will be a major factor.

If I ever do get offers. Heck, if I only get one offer, then relative levels of enthusiasm won't be a Thing. If I get no offers, then ditto.

I did get a list of publishers for Round 2 from my agent, and the list looks good to me. My agent will be sending the ms out early this week. So hooray for things happening and communication (and enthusiasm, I hope!).
 

literaryguitar

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I honestly don't know how to feel sometimes. I'm a little over 2 months in to round 2, and am left with almost all big Indies, with all but one Big 5 imprint having passed as far as I know. Last time my agent called it after 3 months, but with the Indies she said it can take a really long time to hear back, and on some of their websites they say they can take up to a year. So I kind of stopped worrying about it so much.

But I just went back to my Round 1 passes, which I remembered as extremely complimentary, I order to find something specific an editor said, and I ended up reading them all again and they didn't really strike me that way this time. Maybe it's different things sticking out from the comments to me now, but reading them all at once made me feel a bit hopeless. The book is too quiet, feels claustrophobic, some of it feels stilted, pacing is uneven. All of those comments are from different editors, one at a time and not combined anywhere, and sprinkled through with lots of things about the writing being good or the book being insightful or propulsive or beautiful. But somehow the latter positive comments stuck out to be me before, and now all I see is the sum total of all the negative comments (which of course actually held sway, since they all passed), so that I'm starting to think of the book as a quiet and stilted claustrophobic story with uneven pacing and, if so, why would anyone publish it?

Does this happen to any of you? The same set of comments at some point seems hopeful and encouraging, and then if read at another point seems to be very clearly saying that the book just isn't worth it so that you wonder why you're still trying?
 

Fuchsia Groan

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Is your publicist someone at your publishing house, or did you hire a publicist separately?
She’s on staff with the publisher. I’ve had assigned publicists for all three books, and I’m definitely not a lead title. But the amount of contact I’ve had with them varied. This is the first time I’ve had an actual (well, virtual!) meeting. My friend who actually was a lead title (pre-pandemic) got flown to NYC for a meeting with the whole marketing team. So it varies a lot. I’ve known authors who also hired their own publicists on the side, but the price is too steep for me.

Hi again, Skydragon! I’m so sorry about your two books that didn’t sell, but it’s great that you’re feeling excited about the new one! That could bode well.

Wishing you good luck on round 2, Angeliz!

Literaryguitar, I think that’s a common experience. I’m a pessimist, so I usually focus on the negative comments from the get-go, but I’ve also reread what I thought was a positive rejection only to be floored by the negativity. It happens with reviews of published books, too! (One of my books has two starred trade reviews, but I still consider it a failure because it has a low Goodreads rating.) Just remember that when you’re feeling down for any other reason, the negative stuff will seem overwhelming, and that may not reflect reality at all. Focus on your agent’s faith in the book. Remember that even the most acclaimed books always have a pretty sizable group of readers who say, “Eh, I don’t see what the point of this book is.”
 
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angeliz2k

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literaryguitar, I know what you mean. I think part of it is how my agent framed the comments. She said they were encouraging. And I don't doubt that, as far as comments from a declining editor go, they are encouraging. When I reread them, though, they feel like a mixed bag at best. What I really want is effusive, undiluted praise and an offer of a book deal!

On the other hand, I'm not one of those writers who goes back to look at their own work and cringes. I'm usually pretty positive about my own work. That doesn't mean I don't feel discouraged about my mss' ultimate fate. I think we all know that lots of great mss end up going nowhere for a variety of reasons.

I do get a boost from the very kind comments of readers who were positive about my writing. I'll sometimes go back and take a look at their reactions, just to feel a little less mopey. It makes me feel that, whether or not the publishing industry validates me, I've created something worthwhile.
 

literaryguitar

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literaryguitar, I know what you mean. I think part of it is how my agent framed the comments.
You know, maybe that is part of it. When my agent sent me the comments in a batch at the end of round 1, she framed them as very encouraging. So maybe I read them that way because she said that. And at that point, there were still a lot of editors left to send to in the next round, so there wasn't that much reason to be despondent. But when I went back and looked at them today, it was on my own looking for something one of them wrote, and I haven't communicated with my agent in weeks. So maybe without her framing it that way, it's the negatives that stuck out more than the positives.

Also, maybe as a first time being on sub, there was some amazement on my end in the beginning of "wow, an editor at [Big 5] said she's 'unsurprised by the interest,' and that my writing is 'a high-stakes and emotional pleasure'"and that was enough of a new experience to seem positive in and of itself, regardless of what else they said or why they passed. That someone at a Big 5 even read my book and had something, anything, nice to say was initially exciting. At this point, though, that's getting a little old, so maybe now all I see is the editor saying the book isn't for her, and the next one saying it seemed claustrophobic at times, etc.

I guess that's what's meant by a 'revolution of rising expectations.' Initially it just seems like enough that people in that position read the MS and find something, anything, to like. But after a year of being on and off sub, and scratching almost every Big 5 imprint off the list, that by itself no longer feels helpful or like an achievement or even very related to what I want. Because I'm now used to the idea of these people reading my MS and the stakes at this point are just about getting an offer from anyone. So in that context, all I see now in the passes is, well, that they passed and why.

And yes, I can totally see how whatever mood I or anyone is in while reading passes can really affect which parts we focus on.
 

skydragon

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Thanks for the welcome back, all!

With comments and passes, I've definitely been at the point where all I can see is the negative and it made me question that project. I made the mistake of looking back at old rejections before going on sub with this project. But this time, I asked my agent not to forward me rejections. After two other books not selling, I really didn't feel it would be helpful to see more Rs like "too quiet", "saturated market", or "don't know how to sell this". I don't feel those are fixable things and they were what my rejections tended to boil down to in the past. I feel much better not seeing the Rs this time. I'm still antsy, anxious and struggling with submission but I'd be much worse seeing the Rs. I decided I didn't need all the detail at this stage.

literaryguitar, I also know what you mean about the first sub and the feeling of, "Wow, an editor is reading my book!" You almost don't mind the initial rejections because you're happy to have got that far! But after a while it does get old, coming from someone dealing with Book 3 on sub. And I still get friends who say to me "you did so well to get an agent, some people don't even get that far, you'll get there eventually!" which... isn't helpful when you've spent years struggling. So I understand. Perhaps you might need your agent to shield you from passes for a while. I know it's really helped me this time around.
 

literaryguitar

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Rs like "too quiet", "saturated market", or "don't know how to sell this". I don't feel those are fixable things and they were what my rejections tended to boil down to in the past. I feel much better not seeing the Rs this time.
I'm in the "too quiet" club too. I've been joking lately that maybe if I add a sex scene, a murder, and a dragon it would make it less quiet. But I'd probably write quiet sex scenes, murders, and dragons too.
Perhaps you might need your agent to shield you from passes for a while. I know it's really helped me this time around.

Yeah, I'm not getting them either. Last round she sent them at the end. That's what I was reading yesterday that got me down, the ones from last round.
 
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RaggyCat

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Welcome back, skydragon - I joined in 2018 but I think I remember your old user picture! Having been through the sub process with no joy is rough. I'm so glad you have love for your new project and that I'm sure translates onto the pages, which can only be a good thing! Crossing fingers for you that it's a case of third time lucky.

I've had my fair share of submission passes and I never really know how to read them. There are some I've read and thought are extremely positive, then read back later and had a different opinion on. I actually find the really positive passes harder to process - when you have a message singing the virtues of the manuscript then concluding "sorry but no" it does make you wonder how much better it needs to be! But I do try to see things as my agent advises me to see them - so if she says something is encouraging, I'll take it that way. I've also had the surely niche experience of a book being passed on with a glowing rejection and then acquired - so you never truly know!

Haha, I have the opposite problem of my books often being too "loud"! I tend to throw the kitchen sink at books, plotting wise, then have to scale stuff back. It happens every time I write - I definitely wind up subtracting on edits rather than adding most of the time.

I've just met a deadline on some edits (not a tight deadline, for a change) which is great, but now it frees my mind up to be completely paranoid and anxious about the synopsis that is going to acquisitions. I'm expecting it to happen this week, guys, and I am SCARED.