What Happens After You Get a Literary Agent

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Earlier this year, I announced that I’d finally gotten a literary agent, and since then people have been asking me how things are going. The answer is …

Things are going well!

BUT

Not exactly as I’d expected.

What I mean by that is, mostly, that I didn’t expect that I’d still be revising my manuscript so extensively at this point.

But let’s back up.

After signing with my amazing agent, she sent me an edit letter, detailing everything she loved about my book (yay!) as well as things she’d like me to improve upon. I read through her edits, and they were spot-on, so I did a relatively minor rewrite, incorporating her feedback. She sent back a handful of notes after that, I made the tweaks and boom — we were on submission!

On submission meant that she’d sent my manuscript out to ten editors at various publishing houses. They were editors she either knew or knew of, and so had handpicked them because their interests lined up with my book. Other writers have described this part of the process as being in “Sub Hell” because the waiting can be interminable. To be honest, I didn’t find it that bad. Probably because my baby takes up so much of my headspace (and anxiety-space) that I didn’t have that much room to worry about something so beyond my control.

Slowly, the responses from editors came in. They loved the writing! They loved the characters! They loved the world-building!

BUT

… it was a pass. My story was “too quiet,” “too slow-paced,” with “not enough of a twist at the end.” Now, these rejections were the nicest I’ve ever gotten. But they were still rejections. Which hurt.

After all the rejections had rolled in, my agent and I chatted, and she suggested I revise again before we go back out on sub. Since so much feedback was in the same vein — your book is too quiet — it made sense to try and fix that.

And so I dove into my “finished” book and gave it my best shot.

After a few months and a new beta reader later, I sent it back to my agent and awaited her feedback. It came in just the other week. She said …

… that I hadn’t gone far enough with my revisions. And suggested some more major ones.

I’m not going to lie; this bummed me out a lot, at first. I’d revised my manuscript a total of fourteen (14) times at this point. I couldn’t believe I had to do it again.

But then I sat with her feedback, realized she was right … and after a short break (during which I worked on something else — I don’t actually take breaks from writing), I dove back in.

I’m still in the trenches. And it’s hard. Tearing apart this book I know so well and turning it into something different, yet again, when all I want to be doing is working on something else at this point. I don’t think I knew people revised this much post-agent.

But I’m doing it. Because it’s what I have to do. I’m playing the long game. And call me hopelessly optimistic, but I still believe it will pay off at this point.

No defeat, baby, no surrender.

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

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