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Rewriting after subbing per editor request?

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Have you ever received a rejection with suggestions for improvements and an invitation to submit again if you rewrite?

If so, how often has this worked for you? How often has a rejection-to-rewrite turned into a sale?

I'm always happy to rewrite--eager to improve the book.  But the last few times I tried this, after months of rewriting the book was ultimately rejected. I couldn't match my writing to the editor's vision for the book. It's frustrating to try so hard but ultimately fail.  An editor will love something about a book...but not everything. It's like fitting pieces of a puzzle together in the dark.

And I started thinking about the "yeses" I've had from editors. Did any of them come from a rewrite request? Nope. In every circumstance, the editor loved the book (or series proposal) right away. I had the contract offer first then later did rewrites.

This could just be how it works for me. Maybe there's some flaw in my brain that makes it difficult to figure out what an editor is requesting. At least that's what I worry about. I've always had this knack for looking at things completely different than other people. I remember as a kid how I could read instructions for a test and come up with a wrong idea of what the teacher meant. So maybe this is just me....

Still I'm curious. Can you share success stories where a rejection turned into a contract after rewrites? I'm sure this does happen. Maybe to you?

Regardless I'm going to rewrite after a rejection came with an invitation to try it again. More active scenes. I can do that...except one of the less active scenes is a scene that another editor loved. So I'm going to brain-storm with two clever writing friends and hope they can push me in the right writing direction.  Fingers crossed.   

#1 - May 10, 2014, 05:13 PM
Author of SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, THE SEER, DEAD GIRL, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB & in 2016: CA$H KAT
www.LindaJoySingleton.com
twitter.com/LindaJoySinglet

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I've always had this knack for looking at things completely different than other people.


Oh, my. Me too. I wonder if this is more common among writers?


I suspect that really overhauling a book and then getting a contract from that same editor happens less than half the time, maybe way less, but it did happen to me once. I had a series under contract that was projected to be six books (it turned out to be four). My editor liked the second book, but the committee HATED it and rejected it. The editor gave me some guidance as to what it might take to get it accepted, but nothing like the lengthy letters editors send today. I tore it apart and redid it (while writing the next book!), and they accepted it. Granted, they already had some commitment to me.


Since you want to do this R&R, definitely go for it. It could turn out!  :horse: :crossedfingers :crossedfingers
#2 - May 10, 2014, 08:14 PM
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Well, here's a thought from my point of view as an editor--when I was working in-house, and made revision suggestions, I didn't always do so in hopes of getting a publishable manuscript. I was just trying to help someone whose writing I had liked.


So... if you like the suggestions, and think you can learn from trying them out, provided you can figure them out first (!), go ahead and give it a go. Don't worry about whether it will lead to an acceptance or not.
#3 - May 10, 2014, 08:17 PM
Harold Underdown

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Yes, I have ended up with a contract after rewriting--several times. But probably more frequently the situation you describe ends in a "no."

Usually, if an editor thinks a manuscript is salvageable and believes that the author can make the edits s/he will offer a contract first and then ask for DOABLE changes. I know I'm in trouble when:

1. the requested changes make no sense to me. I was once asked to put a refrain in a serious nonfiction biography of a president--I didn't understand where the editor was coming from, and I still don't. The manuscript later sold without a refrain to someone else.

2. the remarks are general rather than specific, e.g. "make the ending funnier" or "add more emotional depth."

Sometimes, if I'm truly mystified, I'll ask another experienced author (or my husband--he's really good at this) to translate the editor's remarks into language that I can understand. Sometimes that helps and I "get it".

But usually if the editor can't give me sufficient clarity or guidance, and no one else can either, I take it as a sign that I'm not going to be able to work with that particular person on that particular manuscript and I move on. Without regrets.



#4 - May 10, 2014, 08:25 PM
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Thanks for such great replies. I'm writing late tonight trying to make my daily page goal and struggling. Anyway, I think that when an editor really loves a project enough to fight for it in committee, she/he knows right away. Of course, rewrites are always worthwhile, and if there's even a slim hope an editor will change a no to a yes, I'll rewrite. 

The reason I've published nearly 40 books is that I never give up.  I'm not any more talented than anyone else. I just keep trying and trying until my book sells.
#5 - May 10, 2014, 08:36 PM
Author of SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, THE SEER, DEAD GIRL, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB & in 2016: CA$H KAT
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With the first novel I got published, I got lots of r&r's that led nowhere---except to a better book. I used all those comments (at least the sane ones), looking for common threads, when I did a major rewrite. The rewrite got me an offer from an editor who'd never seen the novel before. So although the process was incredibly frustrating, and many of the comments were off the wall, they eventually helped me craft a better book.

That said, I do know one person who recently sold a novel to the editor who asked for revisions, so it can happen.

Sounds to me like you have the right idea: getting your clever writing friends to help you see clearly. Plus you're a pro, and a hard-working one, at that. I hope this revision will lead to a sale.
#6 - May 11, 2014, 08:27 AM

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Linda--Yes, same here. If I believe in a book, I never give up on it.
#7 - May 11, 2014, 08:33 AM
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I did four revisions for an editor before she bought my book. Ada, my first picture book sale, will be published by Creston Books.

On the other hand, I've many times now, done revisions for an editor that didn't sell, including for this same book. Laurie
#8 - May 11, 2014, 12:27 PM
Laurie Wallmark
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For all but one of my book sales, I haven't been asked to revise before getting an offer.

I've revised for editors three times without getting an offer from them first. An offer came through only one of those times. But the other two times, I thought the suggestions made the manuscripts stronger. I've also declined to revise and resubmit my manuscripts a few times when I didn't agree with the requested revisions.

Good luck!
#9 - May 11, 2014, 03:29 PM
Author of SILVER PONY RANCH and ZEKE MEEKS series

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I don't have any suggestions or experience to add, LindaJoy, but it sounds like you're doing the revision and I just want to say good luck!!  :gogirl
#10 - May 13, 2014, 07:41 AM
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Yes--suggestions almost always make the manuscripts stronger. And this often leads to a different publisher making an offer. Mostly my point is that when an editor loves your book enough to battle for it in acquisitions, it's rare for them to reject it with an invite to rewrite. They have to love it a lot to begin with.

I am always grateful for the time an editor takes to make comments, especially since they're very aware their comments may lead to your success with a different publisher. It's not easy for editors to lose a project they love, but often know they won't be able to get it through acquisitions or make the P&L's work out. I have mad respect for editors.
#11 - May 13, 2014, 08:08 AM
Author of SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, THE SEER, DEAD GIRL, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB & in 2016: CA$H KAT
www.LindaJoySingleton.com
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All of my YA books have been accepted on the first try, but I've gotten a few revise/resubmits from adult romance publishers. Each time, I've redone the book based on the suggestions and submitted again (other than one that I was asked to wait six months on; the six months won't be up until July), and each time it's resulted in an acceptance. So if you agree with the suggestions and the requests, it can be worth it to rewrite the book and try again if you're invited to do so.
#12 - May 13, 2014, 09:48 AM

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