Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hurdling the Obstacles: Revisions

Many, many challenges you face as a writer will no doubt come from an agent or editor's negative feedback about your work. As a former agent, I can't tell you how many times I've passed on writing that just wasn't ripe. As a publishing consultant and coach, I can't tell you enough how important it is to have your work completely and utterly finished, polished and well-crafted before you consider sending it to an agent or editor.

Most writers fail in connecting their work to an agent or publisher because it just isn't good enough and ultimately translate this to:

I'm not talented enough.

I'm not good enough.

I don't have what it takes.

Hold up, writers. They said IT wasn't good enough, not YOU weren't good enough. The great news is, you can only better your craft. You can research more, read more, write more and get the education you need to make your writing better! From MFA programs to undergrad writing courses to local community center or library programs, you have options to become a better writer. So put your pride aside and use these tools. No excuses.

But what if you have an MFA...or are a really great writer... and have enjoyed success publishing your pieces in literary journals, papers, magazines, etc., and revising your novel or nonfiction work seems like another animal altogether. The mis en scene is all there but you're stuck on plot points, having issues with your characters, climaxes, big picture, pivotal stuff. Time to pull in your workshop comrades and/or several well-read, somewhat book savvy readers to help identify where you went wrong. With their perspective you might be able to identify where you left the track and work your way back on it.

Take the time you need, however long it takes, to make your writing the best it can possibly be. Promise me you'll not allow half-baked work leave your desktop! Once an agent/editor/publisher requests your work, that is your golden opportunity. Yes, this is a subjective business, but great writing is great writing. Your lag time in getting your book to print will be markedly lessened if you're writing captivates the reader on page one.

Oh, and one more thing...after you've sent an agent the whole package...query letter and synopsis or actual pages, don't email them asking if you can send a revised version. The ship has sailed, my dears. All the better to be prepared!

Tomorrow we'll discuss query letter hell!



  1. Thanks so much for this post. It was exactly the encouragement I needed to keep going.

  2. Yes, that's a good point. The manuscript is what's being judged, not our talent or ourselves, personally.

  3. Great stuff once again! I'm reposting! Thanks!

  4. Thanks, ladies! I just emailed with another NYT bestselling author who took 10 years to write her novel. Now, I'm not saying ALL great novels are born from years of crafting, but clearly, you deserve the benefit of time to develop as a writer. Learn from it but most of all, appreciate the experience.

  5. This is always great advice to hear and great encouragement! That makes me feel better it took someone 10 years to write- with a "day" job (as most writers have) kids and house to take care of- it's so hard to find the time! But we just keep plugging away and make it the best we can. Thanks for the post!

  6. Thanks, Abby! Yes, it is hard but so rewarding. I'm a mother of three, so I'm singing right along in your chorus. Just continue to look to those who have created a successful career for themselves from scraps of time. I can't think of anything more motivating! Keep me posted on your work!


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