So, guest bloggers will continue tomorrow (haven't they been so fab?), but I thought I'd pop in today and say hi. I'm excited to report that I've finished this round of major rewrites/revisions for Agent Sara! *dances around in a circle* Now it's in her hands. Hopefully she likes the changes--if not, then back to the trenches I go. But for now, I'll hope for the best. :D
Now, what I thought I'd talk about today is this whole idea of rewrites. I know all of us understand that our work will need editing and revision once an agent or publisher takes us on. No matter how perfect we think we've gotten it, there is only so much we can do without a professional, unbiased eye.
That's good news and bad news.
The good news is that as long as your story has strong writing, a great concept, and marketability (piece of cake, right?) then an agent or publisher won't let a few things that need reworking stand in the way of taking you on.
The bad news? You're going to be faced with the issue of what you are and are not willing to change in your book. How emotionally attached are you to your words, characters, concept, etc.?
Before Sara offered me representation, she emailed me a long list of editorial notes about pretty major things she would like me to change. She did this to make sure that before she offered to rep me, that we had the same vision. I really appreciated this heads up because it put the ball in my court--were these things I was willing to change?
I read through the feedback and let it sink in overnight. My initial reaction? I was daunted by the amount of work that would be involved with those changes. It made me wonder if I was capable of changing all those things while still making the rest of the story work. So basically a little wave of maybe-I'm-not-good-enough panic.
Then, as it settled in, I realized--wow, these things will make the book so much stronger and deeper. I would love to be able to reach that level with this story. So, obviously, I agreed to the changes and then went through a whirlwind three weeks of fixing all of it (hopefully successfully.) In the end, I had to cut about 20k words, and no--that's not because I like words and had overwritten--no, I was right at my word count, so I had to cut those 20k and then replace them with completely new stuff. That writing new stuff was fun, but definitely the most difficult part because changing one thing in one part of the book has a domino effect on everything else.
But anyway, here's what it got me to thinking about (and discussing with Sierra Godfrey)--do you have deal breakers? Changes that, if asked, you wouldn't be willing to do. And if you have those things, would you be able to possibly turn down an agent/publisher because your visions didn't align?
For instance, what if Sara had asked me to nix my happy ending and go in the erotica direction instead of erotic romance? That is something I wouldn't want to compromise because I'm at heart, a romantic. I want to write books with happy endings. It's who I am. And as you know, once you start publishing in one genre, it's not always easy to jump into something else--so you better like what you're writing from the start.
Thankfully, Sara's and my vision aligned and none of the changes she asked for changed the essence of what I wanted my story to be and in fact, made me like my story better. But it's definitely something to keep in mind when you're on the search for an agent/publisher.
Now, it's important not to have a laundry list of deal breakers. After all, this business is about collaborative effort. We aren't the be all end all as the author. However, I also think it's vital to know what you are just not willing to compromise.
So, I'm curious, do you have any deal breakers? Would you consider turning down an offer if someone asked you to change something that just didn't feel right for you or your career?
"If I Can't Have You" - Kelly Clarkson