Friday, January 14, 2011

The Wonderful World of Agent Revisions

I was trolling around the other day and stumbled across this post on Rachelle Gardner’s blog about doing revisions for agents and I found myself riveted to what she was saying. Not only did I think it was informative but I found it reassuring as well. All of the things she says in this post my agent has said to me over the past six months.

As most of you know I’ve been working on rewriting my novel for my agent for a while now. We’re up to rewrite #3 at the moment and although I truly hope she likes this version (I believe it is the best one yet), I won’t be surprised if she comes back with more suggestions, and I’m okay with that.

It’s extremely hard to look at revision notes from an outside perspective and not only trust the direction you are being steered in but also embrace the suggested changes as they are. Being a rebel by nature, I bucked and revolted against many of the changes my agent wanted, so sure that I was right because it was my story. But in the end, every time I’ve done a rewrite for her, no matter how painful it has been, I’ve come out with a stronger and better novel, which is why if she asks for another rewrite I’m okay with it. I trust her; she knows what she’s doing and she believes in me.

And that’s something that is one of the most difficult things to wrap your head around when facing revisions notes: Why did she take me on in the first place if she hates the way I’ve written the novel?

Seeing all of those suggested changes and big red X’s drawn through my ms is sometimes hard to handle at first. It can be very deflating and exhausting to contemplate. It’s also a blast to a writer’s self-confidence but as Rachelle Gardner points out it’s all about potential. My agent has said the same thing to me several times over the past few months. She saw something in my writing that she thinks is workable and she believes that I am a good writer – it’s the ms that needs more work. Although it’s difficult to believe in yourself when you’re taking your beloved ms and completely changing it to something new, I realize that if she didn’t believe in me she wouldn’t be investing the time. For all of the rewrites I’ve done, she has had to reread my ms over and over again. I can’t imagine how tedious that can be – there are very few novels that I would read four times.

I realize now, through the emotional ups and downs of revising (and trust me, there are a lot of downs), that I can do whatever difficult task my agent has set forth for me. It might hurt at first; my instinct might be to revolt against the suggestions (you can’t get away from your personality) but in the end I’ll do it and it will be better. I truly value my agent’s suggestions, feedback and insight. I trust her implicitly and I know that she’s taking me in a direction I want to go.

We’re getting closer to the end – I’m not sure if we’re there yet, but I think I can see the finish line.


  1. Great post Angela. I can only compare this to critiques right now since I'm not at the point you are. It's hard to let go of your work, the emotional investment made and time spent creating your 'baby', and it's hard to cut those words out. Thanks for sharing this. Great insight since you're going through it. Will make the process a bit more bearable when I get there. :)

  2. Ugh! Rewrites!

    I feel for you, Angela:)

  3. Seeing the wood for the trees is the best thing, at least you know where you're going and whilst it may feel that you're taking time to get there, you're not wondering round in circles like a headless chicken. LOL

    All the best with the revisions though.

  4. Seeing red - on your ms I mean - IS hard to take. The good thing is that you have an agent who is willing to work with you to achieve a better book and, I assume she knows what she is doing. So, in spite of the struggle (i do know it's hard) you are lucky.



  5. Your attitude is inspiring to all of us. We often get married to some of our ideas and have trouble letting go, but if it makes for a better story, sometimes we have to give those up. Good luck! *hugs*

  6. Thanks for the reminder that it's all in the interest of producing the best book possible. This says so much, too, about the value of a trusting relationship with your agent.

  7. Angela, I feel your pain. Shortly after Rachelle offered me representation, I learned that I needed to delete the final 3/4 of my story, nearly 86,000 words, and start over. I had a great beginning, but I'd run amok at the 1/4 point.

    I spent the better part of a year turning that story into something Rachelle felt was ready for submission, and the work paid off. She sold the story, and I shared my BIG news today.

    I wish you well on your revisions and encourage you to cling to the fact that your agent believes in you and sees something special in your story. I look forward to heard exciting news from you in the near future.

  8. I understand (to a lesser degree) how those red marks can deflate you. When my BETA reader returns my draft to me, it’s always a little disheartening to see that she’s found errors in my precious book, from the small grammatical errors to something as big as a question asked early on in the manuscript that never got answered.
    Thanks for the pep talk and good luck with those revisions!