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Author Topic: Issue with my second manuscript  (Read 1545 times)
gckatz
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« on: November 21, 2017, 09:20:10 PM »

So I love my agent and I had a really good experience working with her on Among the Red Stars. She gave me really good revision notes that did a ton to improve the story (if you've read it, the epilogue was her idea, among other things), and she worked very hard pitching it to editors. I really want to continue working with her.

The trouble is that she just does not like my new manuscript at all. As in the only thing she could find to praise about it was the title. Her revision notes are completely unworkable. If this were a beta reader, I'd just write it off because there's always one person who inexplicably doesn't like a book. All my beta readers have REALLY liked this manuscript and I'm very confident that it would do well if I were querying or subbing directly. But of course I'm not and I don't intend to.

I hope not to shelve this project. It's a really good follow-up to Among the Red Stars.

What are my options?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 01:27:18 AM by gckatz » Logged

Spat
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2017, 09:58:29 PM »

Hi! Have you had a conversation with her about her view of this book? Perhaps she doesn't hate it. But if she has so many notes, you aren't obligated to make every single change and she knows that. She should accept that. Maybe there is a comprise? Often times, agents and editors ask for revisions that make the story much stronger, of course, you have to feel it to make it happen.

Another idea is if this is a sequel to any published work, you could also ask her to include your editor's thoughts once your revisions are done. If none of these are options or none work, then you can set aside the book for now and work on something new that you both love and revisit this project later. If you find that you two are on complete opposite ends on other projects/ideas/books, then you should consider moving on to an agent who's more on your page.

To add: Don't jump the gun on the worst case scenario. Talk it out with her and tell her your thoughts if you feel so strongly against her notes.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 10:00:40 PM by Spat » Logged
jldelozier
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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2017, 05:41:03 AM »

I wish I could help, but I have zero experience in the situation since I don't have an agent. I can tell you what I did find with my editor, though. Maybe you'll find that helpful; maybe you won't. Disregard at will!

 I found that she had a certain vision for the book herself, much like some readers do, where they've already imagined the character's future. When those readers or editors read YOUR version, it is "disappointing" because it doesn't match what they had in mind. I also found that she brought distinct biases and generation gap issues which we had to work around (she's much younger than I am and didn't "get" some of the references etc.)
Assuming you're mature and experienced enough to evaluate your agents critically and not automatically jump to your manuscripts defense (which I'm sure you are as you've been through this process once already) it may just be a matter of time for her to warm up to it. Have a discussion which includes the questions (if she didn't already answer them in the revision): "What do you dislike MOST about it?" and "What was YOUR vision for this book before you read it?" If can give you a better understanding and then, instead of arguing, you might be able to make some slight tweaks and reach a compromise.

Good luck - what a sticky situation!
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2017, 06:18:51 AM »

Talk with her. If at the end of the conversation you realize she doesn't "get" your book, then don't have her try to sell it. I ended up in that position with one of mine, and it became obvious to me that the agent simply never went outside her mental slot for the book to look at what it really was. It wasn't until she told me to take another ten thousand words out of the book and I suggested removing the romance that she realized the book wasn't actually a long romance with a lot of other stuff tacked into it.

The query letter she produced was a mess (I helped her rewrite it) and the book never even got to second reads, I assume because she never clicked to what was actually going on with it but wouldn't come forward and say, "You know, this isn't working for me."  You don't want to be in that position. An agent can't sell a book she doesn't understand. But you won't know she doesn't understand what you're doing with the book if you don't get her on the phone and talk things through.
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Tigerlily1066
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2017, 07:01:55 AM »

Oh, I feel you so hard on this one. I am in a similar spot. My agent successfully sold the next two books in my current series, but we hit a roadblock when I started a new one. I pitched her the concept of the book in November and she said definitely write that one (out of several options). When I sent her the finished manuscript in April she said she couldn't sell a book with this concept. Same deal as you where my beta team loves it (and they don't hesitate to tell me when they don't love something). Over conversation, it became clear that what my agent wants is for me to write minor variations on the books I've already written. Same type of hero/heroine, same structure, same subgenre. Because "author branding."

I don't want to change the entire identity of this new book to suit one person's vision of what it should be. So at the moment it's in a drawer and I'm writing a different book that I hope she will like better.

I wish I had some awesome advice for you. I struggle with this issue a ton, where I want to be open to feedback from industry folks on how to improve my manuscript because I'm sure it could use improving, but I am not convinced that contorting my work to fit into one individual's vision of a salable book is the right answer. Good luck to you in navigating these waters, and if you find a good solution, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. :D
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2017, 09:35:13 AM »

So my agent didn't like my MG and oof, that sucked. Because that was my MFA thesis, and all my advisors adored it and I adore it. Part of it was she doesn't like roadtrip books and it was very much a quest sort of roadtrip book.

At the time, though, she also read a chunk of another YA fantasy, and she liked that a lot. So we decided to just put the MG aside for now and focus on the YA (of course, that ended up getting put aside for other reasons, too.)

So, I feel you. I think my plans are to maybe try to hit a highlights retreat with it next year or the year after and see if there's something I can do to just really make it amazing, and then readdress it with her again.

But, yeah. It would almost be easier if she didn't like my MG, and then also didn't like my YAs, but she has liked my YAs so it's not an cut and dry "I need a new agent" deal.

I don't know what the answer is when there's just one ms that you really believe in and your agent doesn't.

Do you have something else you can work on in the mean time, and set this one aside for a bit? And then if she doesn't like the new thing, too, you kind of know where you're at?
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gckatz
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2017, 10:32:59 AM »

It just doesn't seem fair that the options are a) completely dump my agent or b) completely abandon a strong, important manuscript that's a perfect companion novel for my debut.

It seems like it should be possible to take a hiatus or direct sub this manuscript on my own, or farm it out to a temp agent just for the one project.
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Munley
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2017, 11:13:08 AM »




I don't know what the answer is when there's just one ms that you really believe in and your agent doesn't.


After reading this thread, I think that, if I get an offer of representation, I'm going to ask:

What if there is a manuscript you don't like and don't feel that you can market it?

What other marketing options would I have while still retaining you as my agent?

[In the case where this unliked book is intended as a sequel]:
Would you be willing to, at least, submit it to the publisher who published Book 1?

------
I guess I tend to look as an agent as someone I "hired" to market my work for 15% domestic and 20% international.
If the agent really hates the book, I suppose they would have trouble marketing it, but it seems that the author should:

1) get a list of specific agent objections and have a chance to remedy them into a shape the agent can muster some enthusiasm for, as long as the changes fit with the author's vision.

2) be free to market through some other agent/self-publish/submit to publishers directly if #1 comes to naught.

Just doesn't seem right/ethical for an agent to expect to be granted the power
to tell an author what the author may or may not be permitted to sell,
when refusing to market it for the author.
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slightlysmall
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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2017, 11:49:00 AM »

It just doesn't seem fair that the options are a) completely dump my agent or b) completely abandon a strong, important manuscript that's a perfect companion novel for my debut.

It seems like it should be possible to take a hiatus or direct sub this manuscript on my own, or farm it out to a temp agent just for the one project.

IDK what to tell you, as I'm still far from "my agent doesn't like my second book" problems. Not that they won't happen. But from what I've seen on Twitter about this MS, I'll help clarify the thread:

It's not a sequel; it's just that GC has found a niche she could stick to. Her second book is "on brand."

With more thoughts for you, GC, I'll second the "talk to her." Read through the notes again after it's been a while. Ask yourself if any of the changes resonate with you, or if all of them go against your vision for the MS. If there is anything you think you could work into a revision, talk to her about the chance to compromise. Then talk to her about what happens if she still doesn't like it. What your options are.

I hate having conversations like that (the one time I told a CP I didn't like something just about broke me, I swear), but it sounds like it's a necessary step.
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gckatz
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2017, 02:33:01 PM »

I've been trying to make the revisions work somehow for a couple of months now to see if there's some kind of compromise draft we can reach, but it's obvious that's just not going to happen. She's giving me all these nebulous, confusing notes asking for huge, sweeping changes to the characters, relationships, plot, everything. They go against my intuitive feel for this project and all the other feedback I've gotten. And for all that she only read the first 50 pages. It's exactly what you'd expect from someone who just doesn't like the book and is treating it as a salvage project.

I've got to look for other options.
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Tabris
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« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2017, 02:53:54 PM »

It just doesn't seem fair that the options are a) completely dump my agent or b) completely abandon a strong, important manuscript that's a perfect companion novel for my debut.

What's fair, though? The agent won't market a book she doesn't believe in, or if she tried, she'd do a lousy job of it because she doesn't understand it. She can't sell something she can't understand.

You can ask the agent if she has a junior agent at the agency would would maybe like a shot at selling the book.
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gckatz
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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2017, 03:04:57 PM »

It just doesn't seem fair that the options are a) completely dump my agent or b) completely abandon a strong, important manuscript that's a perfect companion novel for my debut.

What's fair, though? The agent won't market a book she doesn't believe in, or if she tried, she'd do a lousy job of it because she doesn't understand it. She can't sell something she can't understand.

You can ask the agent if she has a junior agent at the agency would would maybe like a shot at selling the book.

Hence why, in the next sentence, I listed additional options I wished I had, such as:

Quote
It seems like it should be possible to take a hiatus or direct sub this manuscript on my own, or farm it out to a temp agent just for the one project.
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Spat
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« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2017, 10:01:26 PM »

I've known a couple of authors who've hit this point and when the agent didn't like it but author loved it, they decided to pub anyway (including self-pubbing). The agent stepped aside from this project but was willing to look over a contract, but stayed out of the deal. They remained working together for a while, but they kept hitting this roadblock and author left the agent and signed with a new one that she's currently happy with. Anyhow, still have an open discussion with your agent and lay out your feelings. You may be pleasantly surprised, or you may release what must be done.
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Spat
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2017, 10:02:25 PM »

Also, I don't think you can have a temp agent, BUT you may ask her if there's someone else at the agency willing to co-agent this one.
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Tabris
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« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2017, 11:33:30 AM »



Hence why, in the next sentence, I listed additional options I wished I had, such as:

Quote
It seems like it should be possible to take a hiatus or direct sub this manuscript on my own, or farm it out to a temp agent just for the one project.

Hence why I suggested you go ahead with that option, since you seemed reluctant to start the conversation.
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