Friday, August 3, 2007

Could You Change... Everything?

Dear Anonymous: I met an editor at a conference, subbed the first three chapters to her and waited eight months for a response. She “found it charming.” She said the main character of my chapter book is unique and my writing style is engaging. She said she was declining my submission because the words I used and my writing seemed too mature for the content and length of my text. She suggested making these parts more consistent and closed with, “I would be happy to look at a future draft if I decided to revise.”
I took her advice and I’m in the process of revising. How much editing is she expecting and how do I get a quicker response from her when I resubmit? Also, should this somewhat favorable response be an indicator that I should also look for an agent now?
It sounds like addressing the problem she perceives in your manuscript would take a fair amount of revision throughout the manuscript.
But she is not expecting you to make large changes you disagree with. This never improves a manuscript. If her criticism made sense to you, then do your best to revise the manuscript as you feel it should be revised. If her criticism didn't make you think, "Hmm, I suppose you're right," then send it along to other people.


Anonymous said...

Going by what you are saying, she likes the story and believes you can write, but doesn't think your language level fits a chapter book. She may feel, for example, that it fits a middle-grade novel better. Because she likes the MC and "content," she's apparently asking if you can change the language to fit a chapter book rather than gear the material to an older age group.

She's willing to look at it again if you revise, and you agree with her assessment enough to do so. Great! What she wants to see, I think, is "chapter book language" all the way through the ms. Read an armload of chapter books to help you get the feel. Ask your librarian to help you select chapter books as opposed to middle-grade novels. There is some fuzziness out there as to what these terms mean.

How do you get a quicker response next time? I don't think you can do a thing about that.

Don't submit to an agent until you have the book ready to send back to the editor. It's got to be just as good for the agent as for her. What you can do now is research agents, write and polish a query, and make up a "short list" of your top agent prospects. Because you have interest from the editor, I'd send the ms. back to her when you're done, but then if you get an offer, don't discuss any of the terms; instead say, "I'd like to get an agent at this point." Then you can query your top agent choice(s) and you are an attractive potential client because you have an offer on the table. This is a not-unusual way of getting an agent.

Just some suggestions as to how it could play out. said...

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