Everything you need to publish
I’m often approached by writers who want me to help them edit their work before submitting to an agent. They’ve asked Beta readers for feedback and they’ve been through painful redrafts. They’ve agonised over their pitch and they’ve spent hours researching the agents they want to contact. They just think that one last pass over the text will make the magic happen. Of course this text is still in a raw format and would benefit from another editorial eye. But if a client has already done substantial work on their text, I often find myself advising them to go ahead and make a submission before hiring me or any other editor, and here is why.
If your main aim to get representation from an agent with an eye to getting published then your agent is your first audience. Not only that, agents spend all day, every day working with writers and publishers. They know what the latest trends are, which debuts are coming up and what readers are talking about. In short, they know the current book market. Feedback from an agent can mean that any redraft of your work has a direction.
An agent will respond to your submission in one of three ways:
1: They love it and they want to represent you. Great news. Nine times out of ten – maybe even nine and a half times out of ten – they will still have feedback on your text. This might be very small changes but it also might be some sizeable changes. Some agents will work with you to make those changes and guide you through this stage. Others will expect you to go away and make those changes – or hire someone to help you make those changes.
2: They don’t love it. But they see potential and, if you’re lucky, they will give you some advice on what needs to change in your manuscript to make it more appealing to them. They might even say that they’d like to see a redraft. So, if you want to work with this agent, it’s up to you to listen carefully to their suggestions and make the text work for them.
It’s often here that writers turn to a fresh pair of eyes to help. Further to feedback from agents, I have helped clients with plotting and pacing issues in fiction. I have helped clients to make their characters more sympathetic or turn happy endings into sad ones and vice versa. In narrative non-fiction, I have helped add structure and clarity where perhaps the thread of the story has gone astray. All these things are easier to achieve when you have a clear goal in mind and that can sometimes come from feedback from an agent submission.
3: They don’t love it. They will never love it. This happens. Rejections can still be useful though as, if an agent has time and the inclination, they can offer critical feedback. This might be advice that is hard to hear but it is nevertheless the best and most honest advice you will have, for free, on your manuscript so pay attention. And if you hit a brick wall with all your potential agents, it doesn’t mean all your options are closed. You might consider taking control over your own work and publishing independently.
If you’d like to chat about your submission or your work, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the form below.