When you submit your manuscript to agents you get a lot of form rejections amidst your feedback–that’s the way it goes. But, when you finally get personalized criticism that might suggest a revision do you jump at the chance to edit your work to make that agent or editor happy?
My rules of revision guidelines:
Wait a few days before grabbing the red pen.
You need time to digest the feedback, gather your thoughts about it, and decide how to proceed. Never pick up the red pen in haste. Once you’ve decided how you feel about it you can start to put a plan together.
Wait until you have a batch of comments so you can see if there are consistencies.
A list of feedback from different sources can be overwhelming. If you have conflicting advice, how do you decide which road to go down? It takes moments of clarity to be able to sift through feedback and come out with a solution. If the feedback isn’t pointing you in the right direction, then don’t start them half-heartedly. Revisions only work when you get on board with them and get passionate about seeing them executed.
Wait until you receive revision notes that connect with you and will take your book to the next level.
You’ll know when you get notes from an agent or an editor and it feels like the sky opens. That’s the moment of clarity you need to wait for. It will help focus your vision and suggests that you’ve found someone that ‘gets it.’ When you can surround yourself with people that want your book to be the best it can be you can take it to the level it needs to be for publication.
If you don’t have feedback that you’re able to connect with, keep submitting
There are no hard and fast rules about what’s right for any author in this process. But most of all you need perseverance and belief in your skill. If you don’t connect with the feedback you’re getting then keep on submitting. Because the offer might be around the corner and you’ll never know unless you keep pushing.
The main message is don’t jump to conclusions and always wait until you have notes that open your mind and eyes to what you’ve been missing. Great editorial notes can help you connect the dots in your work and help you know who might be the right fit for you as an agent or editor. Have belief in yourself that you’ll know great feedback when you get it, and have belief that your work can achieve what it’s meant to.
“Over the years, I have calculated that feedback on any given piece of writing always falls into one of three categories, and breaks down into the following percentages: 14 percent of feedback is dead-on; 18 percent is from another planet; and 68 percent falls somewhere in-between.” Toxic Feedback, by Joni B. Cole