There’s been one factor surprising my friends and family more than any other recently and that is the reality of editing a book for agents.
I have four editions of my manuscript; the one I use for my initial submission and three others edited in accordance with the advice from the agents I’m currently speaking with.
Four different editions
Surely that’s wrong, my friends say. Surely you only need one, surely all the advice is applicable….
The publishing industry is one of the most subjective out there. It’s rare to find two readers who love all the same books for the same reasons, just as it’s unlikely to find two agents, editors, publishers or reviewers that have the same opinion about a novel. And whereas many of the changes I make may impact on all four versions of my MS, I have discovered that each will always be subtly different depending on the preference of its receiver. One agent may love expressions of thought, whilst the second may not. The second may appreciate a lack of exposition whereas a third may want more exposition but no internal dialogue. And a forth may mistake your psychological suspense as an historical western…
Whatever the agent feedback, I have learnt to adapt an objective, open mind. Agents really are a very knowledgeable bunch, far more experienced than I am when it comes to editing a novel. If you’re prepared to trust them with your work, you also have to trust their opinion, believing whole heartedly that they’re advice is what’s best for you and your book, however conflicting their advice may be to someone else’s.
Most importantly, however, I have learnt to trust my own ability as a writer. Whatever these guys want me to add or change I will endeavour to do it, knowing not only that I can, but that I can do it well. And that self-belief, my friends, is priceless.