This is a continuation from The Birth of Your Book Baby Part One.
It took me a while but I continued forward until my book was finally done. The next step seemed even more daunting–either finding an agent to take me on, finding a publisher who didn’t require an agent, or -gulp- self publish.
While it can be great to have a choice it can also be paralyzing as we try to find our place in the right line. I was fortunate to meet my agent at a small writing conference near Vancouver, B.C. It was the beginning of a whole new education and some dashed dreams.
Book Born April 30, 2015–Agent Signed in Spring 2018
The book in question was my first completed manuscript. It’s a Contemporary Young Adult Thriller (or so I thought. That’s the way I initially spoke of it–more later on that). The agent wrote: “It is such an important topic and I just love the thriller component. I can’t wait to read the next draft.”
Over the moon, I worked hard on the notes she’d given me and made the suggested changes. There were some issues that needed to be dealt with and they all slowly came together. The learning curve was steep but I was up for it and so excited I’d have worked 24/7 to get it done.
An agent will often allow chosen readers/summer interns etc. to read through a manuscript to garner an independent opinion.
One of the first to read an early draft of my book was a young student. They gave their thoughts and we were on the right track. The manuscript continued to get better as the edits made it stronger and I learned first hand what to expect.
A False Start...
My agent sent my manuscript out to publishing houses only to have it rejected or ignored. This was tough because as the author I imagined everyone falling all over each other to get the rights to publish.
Write The Next Book…
While my book was out there floating in the unknown universe, I did what I did best, I continued to write. My second novel ended up being a Contemporary Women’s Fiction Novel. It’s good. I know it is, but I’m stymied by the editing process.
I don’t think this is unusual. For me, I sometimes feel like saying–hey I did the hard part–I wrote it, I don’t want to write it AGAIN! This type of thinking is dangerous and leads to premature self publication. Do the work…it will pay off.
I’m almost finished the edits on the Women’s Fiction and will begin on the next immediately.
So I wrote another.
It’s a Contemporary Young Adult Suspense. The first draft is done but it needs help.
Then I looked over the manuscript of my first book baby and wanted to rewrite it. I called my agent (who is pretty patient and understanding btw.)
Why Do a Rewrite…?
Even if you feel a manuscript is clean, there’s a chance that holes need filling and scenes that could be stronger. I wanted to rewrite it.
Little did I know how much of a kerfuffle this would cause.
It started off innocently enough. Another agent didn’t like the name of the main protagonist. WHAT? I love that name.
Another read through it and didn’t like the “creepy guy”…. That was the entire thriller aspect.
Still another read my manuscript…. needs more of the secondary character. Her character needs to be pumped up to be equal with the protagonist. HUH? This isn’t her story.
So, that request ended up with several rewrites and MANY opinions.
In the end, my little book baby that came deep from within me, was a stranger. Shit!!
My agent gave the new manuscript to two different readers. Both women. Neither YA.
One: LOVED it. This story needs to go out there. It’s wonderful, she said.
Two: This and this and this–and that too….all need to be changed. It’s not believable. Why is everyone so mean? (like omfg have you been to a high school lately? You obviously weren’t one who was picked on…)
Let’s Review the Changes At This Point…
- The title has been changed. I was actually okay with that because I had a hard time coming up with one.
- The main character–someone didn’t like her name–sounded too ethnic. Huh? That’s one person’s opinion but I changed the name. This was not as easy as it sounds because the name needed to be able to be shortened for a nickname her boyfriend called her.
- Take out the creepy guy… That hurt. The thriller component was now completely gone. So many of the scenes revolved around this but were changed too.
- Pump up the presence and story of the secondary characters. Why? it’s not their story. They’re secondary for a a reason.
- Okay… more chapters now given over to the secondary pov.
This book has been molded and handled so much that it’s no longer my own.
The Final Read….
I’m left with a full manuscript that looks nothing like the book baby I handed over. I know it’s seen a transformation for the better–or on some levels–not all.
The final read had the two readers at odds.
When one was much stronger (aka: critical, questioning, and doubting) in their opinion, the other more positive one was drowned out. My agent then threw up her hands in confusion. She’d read it so many times and was too close to it.
The Spring of 2021…
I was heart-broken when my agent suggested that the book in question was perhaps a trunk book and I needed to move on. Did you hear that crack?? Yup, that was my heart.
She suggested that she reread it one last time but only after significant distance (8-10 months) and in the meantime get back to writing and sending manuscripts her way.
With a deep sigh I resigned myself to stepping back too.
The reality is, everyone will have an opinion. Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. It’s push and pull and takes away from the main underlying theme of the story or manuscript. Changing a name isn’t going to stop a story from being published if the story is good.
Too many hands and opinions in the mix make it a muddled mess.
What This Does to the Fragile Ego of a Writer…
I’m sure you’ve heard that writer’s need to have thick skin in order to deal with the rejection and negativity of the industry but I found it even happens when people are on your side.
Telling me that my book baby may be a trunk book (this means you stick it in the trunk, bury it, and forgot about it because it’s unredeemable) was a knife in the gut.
This book is way too good to leave in a trunk. It will see the shelves of the bookstore and library if I have anything to do with it–trust me.
Since getting that news, I haven’t written a whole bunch. I think I was in a bit of shock TBH. Some imposter syndrome crept in. The whole question of doing my best but it isn’t good enough so why even bother.
It’s really tough when so many are so positive not only about the writing style but also the subject matter only to see it tossed to the side. My agent (and the agency in general) spent a lot of time with me and the edits. I will make it work. I’ve now removed every single reference to the creepy guy and will use that in a different story.
I was down for a while but far from being out. No way. I want every young adult to read this book. I’m now out the other side and ready to take it all on.
I wish you Good Luck with you book baby. Make it happen.
Don’t ever give up. Questions? Comments? Leave them below and I’ll answer each one. We writers need to stick together.
Go Write Something Fabulous…
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the post and learned something new. Feel free to like and comments. I answer all comments/questions. You can also follow and share.
14 thoughts on “Your Book Baby-Part Two. Dreams of Success Lost by Too Many Opinions and a False Start”
Oh, Faye, what a difficult journey! Good for you for persevering. You’re a fabulous writer. One day, I’m sure you’ll have one of those great “My Road to Publishing” stories to tell.
Hey Zena… Yeah, it’s been a long and stressful haul but I still have some fight in me. lol… I’ll rewrite one more time….Yes. It’ll be a story I tell to the masses one day. Thanks for your support Zena. Means a lot. xo
I believe in you Faye. If your baby book is as good as your blog it’s a winner. You’re right. Too many critics wear you down.
I’m just finishing my book of historical fiction. Next week a real author is reading it for me. I’ve edited it as much as I could and now time to send it out on its own with a pat on the back and hopeful prayers that she’ll like it and not tear it to pieces. I’ve already torn out 1000 words because it wasn’t my sad story to tell. Rosalie
Hey Rosalie. Good for you. Keep going forward. The author will have opinions and suggestions…. Sit with them for a while and determine how they work for you then edit it again. And good for you for recognizing that part of the story was not your own. Very important. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Too many critics can wear you down if you let them….I’m not going to let them. xoxo
Your blogs are amazing. You could have book of these..I’d buy it 🙂
There’s such a balance with other peoples’ opinions. They are worth soliciting and considering but you’ll eventually use your intuition about what to change and what not to. People and their likes & dislikes are so different; it’s important to factor that in. A bigger sample of readers might be helpful before making drastic changes.
I love your writing style… I’m always happier after reading your work.
Tricia! You’ve made my day. thank you so much for all the kind words. Yes, I’ve thought of putting my blogs into books …just a matter of time I think at this point. Thanks again for stopping by…. I feel better after reading what YOU said. xoxo
Your recount of trials are the stuff of horror stories – in writing parlance. I hope it is not true. Could it be just a joke?
Hey Marianna….nope. No joke unfortunately. I wish.
Thanks so much for sharing Faye. So much to learn from other authors so thanks for your lessons. Such a learning curve. I hope you get that book out one day.
Hi Caryn. Oh my goodness, Yes. Writers must learn from those who come before. The learning curve is huge and so is the business curve… It can be tough but all good now. New agent with new energy and vision. That book will be out there. I know it will. ❤️ Thanks for commenting. It means a lot.
How did I miss this great post? Anyway, I’m glad you linked to it in your new post, because I think it’s important writers read posts like this that express clearly (and yep, with an entertaining emotional slant) the real experiences that can, and often do, come with the whole agenting process!
Lol…I totally miss stuff all the time. You may want to look at part one of this as they’re linked.