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  1. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    When should you rework your book?

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Mckk, Sep 22, 2019.

    So, been querying my completed novel. Got 6 form rejections and 1 personalised rejection so far. Got 1 full MS request from a reputable publisher. It's been 2 months, so I'm not expecting a response yet from the full. (waiting on 12 more to reply to the query, some were sent in April and May but mostly they were sent in July)

    But in the meantime, those SEVEN rejections. Is it time yet to rethink my novel? Like I should maybe rewrite the opening 3 chapters at least (samples have usually asked for the first 10-50 pages depending on who it is). I've had betas suggest I should in fact be starting at Chapter 4 (though not everyone agrees) - which, of course I'm aware, is the point no agent ever got far enough to see.

    Basically... do I keep querying or is it time to take stock and rework it?
     
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  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Trust your instincts. Is the novel complete or are there parts of it nagging at you for change? I wouldn't let the number of rejections make this decision for you. Seven rejections is nothing. You only need one yes. So, ask yourself if your novel is capable of getting one yes in the state it's in. If you can make something better, make it better. If you're satisfied, just be wait it out. The whole submission process is a long one. And the more interest there is, the longer it can take to get responses. I'm not sure it's a good thing to start questioning your work at this point, assuming you still think your work is solid.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  3. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

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    A short answer, because I could write a lot about this but won't:

    On the one hand, seven rejections is not a lot and certainly nothing to worry about. Expect a lot more, but keep hold of hope.

    On the other hand, if you're not happy, make a change.

    And that's it! Hope that helps (somehow).
     
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  4. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Are you passionate about the prospective changes? Do you think your story would be so much cooler and better and more coherent if you made them? Then make them.

    If not, let it be. As other members have said, seven rejections is nothing. Don't second-guess yourself.
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I had one beta, whom I respect a lot and is a writer/tutor herself, who felt the opening was heavily disorientating. She used Tolkien as an example of place-setting and how she appreciates early set-up and background details. My 3 other beta readers didn't have the same impression. My gut says to ignore the beta who found my opening confusing, because Tolkien's style is nothing like my own. Don't get me wrong, I'd be honoured if someone likened me to Tolkien lol, but seriously, that sort of mass info-dump is the sort of book that seriously turns me off. I never did make it through LOTR for that reason. I had a feeling that particular beta simply enjoys a different sort of book. I don't agree that I had to give all the background first, that the most basic things on a needs-to-know basis couldn't be deduced from the narrative.

    However it did sorta... make me rethink. I've had 7 rejections right. If we assume all 7 agents read my opening, they've all decided, for one reason or another, that it isn't right. Now I get a beta telling me the opening is confusing. You can see why I'm second-guessing here.

    It's also because not for the first time I've wondered if I shouldn't start on Chapter 4. The beta who found my opening confusing specifically named Chapter 4 as a potential opening, that everything becomes a lot clearer there and I should consider starting there. I've considered this very option before she even mentioned it, which is, again, why I'm now rethinking it once again.

    Am I excited about the changes? Unfortunately that's hard for me to answer. This book has taken 12 years to find this most-coherent, current form. I'm not excited about any change whatsoever after this many years, no matter what the change is lol. It's been 12 years, so for sure I have the stamina to do it again. I'd do it if that's what it takes. But I'm seriously at a point where perfect doesn't matter to me anymore. If it's publishable, it's passable, it's decent, it's enjoyable - hey, I'll take it. I'm good with that. I'm not into doing a million more tweaks to get it ever closer to perfection. There're things in the plot I could change and I know it, but I don't, because what I have works as it stands. Maybe it isn't the most perfect solution available given everything, but I'm cool with that. Good enough is actually very much good enough for me.

    What I'm saying is, I'll make any number of changes and rewrites to get it right. But I'm only gonna make a change if I'm convinced it's absolutely necessary. That the story simply would not work without it. That it'll literally fall apart and die a horrible death and burn to smithreens if I don't make that change.

    I guess my dilemma is: I can't tell. I can't tell if the book needs it.

    At this point, btw, if anyone fancies reading the first 4 chapters to help me decide this, I'd be grateful.

    I know for sure my writing quality is fine, if only because both an agent and a published author said the same thing about my writing. If anything's gonna be stopping this book, it's going to be structure. And I'm not too experienced in that direction.
     
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    @Mckk, I have talked with dozens of agents at various writing conferences, and the consensus among all is that they receive about 4800 queries per year, of which they select just ten to twenty to push to publishers. Rejection for first-time authors is based on the following, in order of precedence:
    1. Topic of the genre was not on the list of what their publishers are looking for
    2. Submission did not comply with the agent's published guideline
    3. Submission did not match agent's genres
    4. Query letter was not persuasive or poorly written
    5. Quality of the manuscript sample (typically 50 pages or less) was not good: typos, errors, poor sentences, disorganization, not in correct format

    Note that the manuscript is one of the last things that are cause for rejection, because most authors ensure that the manuscript is squeaky clean before submitting it to any agent. So only if your manuscript has holes like #5, should you consider redoing it.

    Item #1 is top of the list for rejection. And that has nothing to do with your manuscript, just what they are looking for now. Overall, this means you have about a 1 in 1000 chance of getting picked up, even if 2-5 are perfect. You need to expect to send out a hundred or more queries, before you get picked up, though you might get lucky and hit it on the first one!

    I recommend that you take take a look at Chuck Sambuchino's book, Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript, which has good discussion on both query letters and recommended formats for manuscripts (I didn't know there was one). Also check out querytracker.org for information on agents, their preferences, topics they are looking for, and requirements for submission. The site has hundreds of agents and agencies listed. So unless #5 applies, don't rework your manuscript, sharpen your query skills and be ready to send ten or more queries a day, each personally tailored to the agent you are querying. It takes a lot of work, and ignore the rejections. It is a numbers game for the first timer, and look at it as fishing!
     
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  7. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

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    Again, a quick one. Haven't read the last response yet because I'm about to head out and walk my dogs, so apologies if this has been mentioned:

    I certainly wouldn't assume that. With the sheer amount they get, I wouldn't assume they got halfway through your query letter. Like I said, 7 rejections isn't a lot, and I'm sure you'll have to fight your way through a lot more. But really make sure your query letter is the best it can be.
     
  8. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    @Mckk, I have talked with dozens of agents at various writing conferences, and the consensus among all is that they receive about 4800 queries per year, of which they select just ten to twenty to push to publishers. Rejection for first-time authors is based on the following, in order of precedence:
    1. Topic of the genre was not on the list of what their publishers are looking for
    2. Submission did not comply with the agent's published guideline
    3. Submission did not match agent's genres
    4. Query letter was not persuasive or poorly written
    5. Quality of the manuscript sample (typically 50 pages or less) was not good: typos, errors, poor sentences, disorganization, not in correct format

    Note that the manuscript is one of the last things that are cause for rejection, because most authors ensure that the manuscript is squeaky clean before submitting it to any agent. So only if your manuscript has holes like #5, should you consider redoing it.

    Item #1 is top of the list for rejection. And that has nothing to do with your manuscript, just what they are looking for now. Overall, this means you have about a 1 in 1000 chance of getting picked up, even if 2-5 are perfect. You need to expect to send out a hundred or more queries, before you get picked up, though you might get lucky and hit it on the first one!

    I recommend that you take take a look at Chuck Sambuchino's book, Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript, which has good discussion on both query letters and recommended formats for manuscripts (I didn't know there was one). Also check out querytracker.org for information on agents, their preferences, topics they are looking for, and requirements for submission. The site has hundreds of agents and agencies listed. So unless #5 applies, don't rework your manuscript, sharpen your query skills and be ready to send ten or more queries a day, each personally tailored to the agent you are querying. It takes a lot of work, and ignore the rejections. It is a numbers game for the first timer, and look at it as fishing!
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    @Lew is right. You probably need to send out a hundred or more tries. When I was looking for an agent, I sent out 50 or more queries. There was minimal interest from one or two. The next batch of 50 or so went out before everyone had rejected me. There was more interest in that round. Seven rejections really isn't enough to question yourself or your writing. And I know the feeling of wanting to make changes after something is submitted. I think that's a normal feeling, but it doesn't necessarily mean changes are needed.

    In my experience, agents and publisher will be interested in a story that isn't perfect if it's a good story. And there will be revision and rewriting as needed and directed before publication. Sure, there's a lot of competition. It's hard to know what will stand out. The agents could have just read three submissions that were similar to yours right before they got to it. The agent might have sold a similar book that didn't do well. It's a big step to take a chance on a new writer. And your competition is not just new writers. But it can happen. Don't let seven rejections mean anything because they don't.
     
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  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Also, you can have a look at the rejection thread. It's really long now, but it's filled with hundreds of rejections for my best efforts along with those of other writers. In a week's time I can easily bring in seven rejections. But most of the time I'm not even counting.

    You know how good your story is and if it needs more. Forget the betas. You've already thought about and considered their feedback. If something is bothering you, change it. If you think you're already putting your best foot forward, wait it out a little longer.
     
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  11. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    I'd take notes, but wouldn't actually re-work it until I heard back from the publisher who asked for the full manuscript. Otherwise you may end up changing something they really liked, wasting a lot of time and effort.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
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