In an effort to help new writers to understand what happens after they sign with an agent, I’ve asked the lovely Jamie Harrington to share her recent experience with feedback from her agent on her manuscript. Her young adult novel is currently being shopped. -Candace Havens
Feedback Makes You Better
When I signed with my agent, I knew how much she loved my manuscript. She couldn’t stop talking about my unique voice, super fun plot, and fantastic characters–and I didn’t want her to. It was one of those fist pumping, dance worthy, win moments writers imagine.
Then she sent me her notes on the manuscript.
Wow. She ripped it up. Why didn’t I show more interiority? Was I sure the main character didn’t come off as condescending? Maybe the ending I wrote wasn’t the best way to finish the story. Of course that random person nodded her head. What else would she nod?
But, I thought she loved my book? It was just the high concept, fast paced story she’d been looking for.
Why would she sign me if I didn’t know how to write?
Exactly. She never would have signed me if she didn’t see the awesomeness in my work, and the awesomeness in me. She knew I had what it took to turn my story into something fantastic. I’ve had crit partners tear my stuff up before, and it didn’t freak me out as much, but I think that’s because if they didn’t like my story, then it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. They weren’t going to be the ones championing my book to all those big scary editors, so if they saw the flaws in my writing, then oh well.
I took another look at the notes, and then I cried.
That’s right. I actually cried over edits. Not because I didn’t agree with them, not because I didn’t have the time to do them, but because I was scared I couldn’t.
How dumb is that?
Then I called a writer friend. If you don’t have any writer friends. Then stop reading this post right now and go out and make some. You have to have them, because they are the only people on the planet that understand what a crazy mixed up place the publishing industry truly is.
Since my aforementioned friend is much further along in the business than I am, she had some sage advice. And, since I’m a little worried that you didn’t run out and get some writer friends like I just told you to, I’ll share:
Don’t do anything for three days.
Of course, when she said it, I wanted to laugh her right off the phone. I just got my very first agent feedback and she was telling me I had to wait three days to do it? No freakin’ way. Sure, I pretended to listen–got off the phone and sat down at my computer, ready to get to work.
Then I cried again.
Well, it wasn’t worth crying over, and maybe my multi-published author friend was right. Maybe, just maybe she knew what she was talking about. So, I closed the notes and didn’t look at them again for three whole days.
Something crazy started to happen, I started to form a plan of attack in my mind. By the time I opened up the document again, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and it didn’t look so scary anymore.
And, so I edited. Don’t get me wrong, it was a slow process that sometimes made me want to pull my hair out, but as I went through her feedback and really read it–that’s when I realized that without her it, I wouldn’t be able to take my story to the next level of amazing.
Jamie Harrington is an author that spends her days frantically writing about super heroes and band geeks. She blogs at Totally the Bomb.com. You can also find her mindlessly chatting away all day on twitter.