Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Secret to Sending Updated Material

It's no secret that agents tend to take a while to read submissions. I'm currently backed up to December on requested material. That's almost three months which, in the grand scheme of things, I don't think is so bad. Recently though, because of my slow response time, I've been getting a rash of authors resending material because they've since revised it and believe it's much stronger. And for a long time I was at a loss on how writers should handle a situation like this.

I think I've come up with a solution and this is based almost entirely on how I would handle a similar situation if I had material with an editor that we since decided to revise.

1. The first thing I'm going to say is that revising material that's already out on submission just shouldn't happen. Why? Because, once you decide a book is ready to go you've more or less put it away and started work on your next book. The first book is dead to you as far as revisions are concerned.

2. I'm an idiot and that's completely unrealistic. If you have a good book and you're close to getting that elusive publishing deal #1 just isn't feasible. At some point, some agent, is going to reject your book, but give you some real feedback that flips the switch. It was the one thing you needed to hear that will make your book shine. So no matter what Jessica Faust has told you, you're scooping that book up and revising.

3. So what do you do about those agents who are reading the material you previously sent, but now feel is flawed? I think you pull it from submission. Instead of rushing through revisions in the hopes the agent doesn't read the first round in time or clogging her inbox with multiple copies of what is essentially the same book I think you email the agent, explain that you received advice that will make the book stronger, and let her know that you'll resend the material once it's been revised (don't ask if you can, just do it). She can simply delete what she currently has.

Is every agent going to be happy about this? Nope, probably not, but I think you will and I think the agent who is unhappy with the new Jessica Faust plan wasn't happy when you sent a second copy of the book because it's been revised.

So go forth and write, but remember, don't even start submitting until you've started the next book.



Elissa M said...

Pulling the submission is a great idea. Who knows, it might be a relief to some agents who might be behind in their reading anyway.

I will absolutely be working on my next book while querying the first. There's no way I'd be able to keep my sanity otherwise. And I'm not going to parse form rejections looking for hints of what I've done wrong. Ugh.

Obsessing over the query stage is not only fruitless, it's unhealthy. Far better to keep the mind occupied with a new project.

Charlotte Levine Gruber said...

Ms Faust,
This post was perfect timing for me. One of my writing partners sent me a blog post today regarding character. The article shifted my perspective just enough to make me look at my MS in new light. Changing the gender of one minor character will affect my MC's attitude so much that she will sparkle. I can't wait to get to work.

DLM said...

This is good advice in a situation that's so excruciating to discipline ourselves to deal with. Working with a massive piece of historical fiction, it's been especially hard not to go back, to second-guess, but heaven has smiled and I've found a great sweet spot with the WIP now. I haven't really wanted to work on the first novel in the months since I sent it out into the world at last, BUT turning this corner now is the first time I'm not second-guessing and concerning myself with it.

Now all I need is to find an agent who actually wants muscular, yet literary histfic. Le Sigh! :)