Friday, January 20, 2006

Rejected Part II...Revision

Sorry to do this, but after I posted this to the Writer's Digest forums a published author I talk to on there regularly sent me this, extremely encouraging reply!

Congratulations, Sipper!

That's not a rejection letter at all! When an editor tells you what she thinks is wrong with a manuscript and asks that you consider resubmitting it to her after working on it, that's called a revision letter. Revision letters are generally the best news that an unagented first-time writer can expect. In my experience, very few reputable editors will send an out-and-out acceptance letter back in answer to a query from an unagented author.

The editor knows that some revision is needed (revision is just about *always* needed!), and the editor isn't going to offer a contract to an unagented writer until learning how well that author can work at the revision stage.

Should you choose to revise under this editor's guidance, you have an invitation back. So you haven't been rejected. Does this mean that an unagented author should count on being accepted by this publishing house? No, but that author is no longer a face in the crowd. The most important link has been made: a teaming up with an experienced editor who sees potential in the work and wants to work on the story. If you wrote back indicating that you were ready to form such a relationship (which you aren't at this point due to your multiple submissions), this editor would probably go ahead and tell you the rest of the things she sees that need work.

Don't ever feel bad about learning that--revision letters just get you to the next stage. My own latest revision letter was six pages long and required me to adjust two-thirds of my manuscript (everything had to change a LITTLE bit). Acceptance usually comes, not from one editor, but from that editor and the house's publisher, or from an acquisitions committee. So, even if this editor works with you to polish the manuscript through several revisions, the book still might not make it through. But the editor's advice can be worth the pain--that manuscript often comes out of the process in much better shape and ready for quick acceptance somewhere else.

Even published authors receive revision letters that say "Not right yet, but keep working on it and show it to us again." And while a seasoned author's agent probably will sell the manuscript right off in a bidding war or receive an offer from a publishing house right away, that sale generally still comes with the understanding that this manuscript will have to make it successfully through its revisions.

My Holt contracts state that if I fail to supply a manuscript that is satisfactory to the publishing house by their due date, I will have to repay my signing money. I haven't seen the terms of my latest contract yet to check whether or not that one says the same, but I'm guessing that it does. So rejoice! You have as much of a home as any first-draft author generally ever does. Now it's up to you to plan your next move: whether or not to reject HER. And that's a very nice feeling!


This was written by Clare Dunkel, a three-time published writer. I'm more than elated! Cloud 9, anyone?


Jamison said...

well done sippy-pooh!
I think it would be hard to work on something as large as a book and have someone say "change msot of it."

Do you think it will be hard or easy to change something you love so much?

bigsip said...

Easy if they'll publish me!

The revisions she mentioned are pretty standard. They're general and pretty much are meant to see if I'm open to revision. Fortunately, she's not asking me to change the story. The story and concept are great in her opinion. It's just the flow and tone she wants changed.

It doesn't matter who you are, editors require revisions.

Every author, no matter how big or small, has to go though it.

So, here I go!

Hopefully, she'll see that I'm willing and able to get the book where it should be and it'll be out there soon!

tnmommieof2 said...


that's good news..never count your chickens before they hatch as they say!!!!

will you autograph your book for me once it gets published????

bigsip said...

I'll be glad to, Julianna!

I'm sure I have a long way to go, though.

I'm planning to revise, but I'm also waiting to hear from an agent who could probably get me signed with a large publisher for a lot more money.

So, I'm still sort of in limbo.

But, thanks for the encouragement and expect a signed copy from me if it gets published!

mullinz8 said...

Even before I read the second posting I took the letter as a good sign, way to go.

This same thing happens for script writing on a show. When I’ve written pieces there are critiques that the second of eyes see that I’ve overlooked.

It’s not a situation of, “You’ve written a lumpy piece of crap.” It’s, “You’ve written something interesting but it needs a shop of sanding here and a spit shine here and then you’ve got something that will be easier to hold.

I’m very proud of you! Send the lady a note back, use snail mail it’s unheard of nowadays, and should leave a good memory for her.

You’ve done just fine.

Before you dive into your revisions take a moment to savory this step under the heading of “accomplished.”

Brewster said...

That's great sip. I felt it was a good thing even with the first post. No first time writer is just going to be handed a contract. I hope you are able to make the changes and still keep close to your vision of the story.

bigsip said...

Thanks again, fellows.

I still have to make a decision on whether or not to go with this particular publisher, too.

But, first I'm going to revise and show it to her again. I want to get all the professional advice I can.

I'm just glad she isn't talking about changing the story. Her comments all point toward polishing the language, which is good.

Ryan F. said...

That's great Sipper! Maybe your book can sit next to mine on the shelves. You can sandwich it between two of my best sellers, "Skiing for Dummies" and "How To Be the Best Fred You Can Be".

bigsip said...

Man, I really need that "Fred" book.

I'm a terrible Fred.

Thanks, man.

If I can just sell as many books as "The Dave Way", I'll be doing fine :)