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How to know when it's ready?

(6 Posts)
BigPawsBrown Sun 26-Jan-14 21:22:09

Over the summer I submitted my first novel (women's fiction) to about 20 agents. I got a few form rejections, two full manuscript requests that resulted in rejection and five agents saying send them the next thing I write.

One of the agents who had the full requested a meeting and wanted to discuss what I would like to write next. I ran an idea by her and she gave me some pointers. She also said she would be happy if I revised the first book. She said some really, really nice things to me and she (I hope) saw quite a bit of talent if she wanted to meet with me for an hour even though she didn't offer me representation.

So off the back of that meeting I started a second novel in November. I will finish the first draft middle of February, second draft by April and polish it by May/June. I have two questions:

1. How will I know it's ready? The pressure is on, really, and I am so worried about this not getting me an agent either! Will I 'know'? Should I use beta readers? Will three drafts do it? My first book was only two drafts and wasn't rejected because it was unpolished (quite the opposite: all feedback was that I could write but WF is needing high concept novels and it wasn't a big enough concept for a debut publishing deal)

2. I want to send it to the agent who met with me first, but should I send it to her exclusively? She really helped me, gave me some ideas, and gave me FAR more than any other agent, but, there are some agents who requested to see the next thing I write who are huge names and I don't really have information about any of the agents in order to pick (how would I pick?)

Thanks in advance anyone out there!!

schmalex Mon 27-Jan-14 18:51:37

Hi BigPaws

1. It seems like you know what you're doing from the feedback you've had so far, so I would trust your instincts. You could use beta readers (I have a critique group that I run work by) or even splash out on an editorial report (I have used Cornerstones and found them good, but it's £££). But it sounds like it was your concept rather than your execution that was the issue last time so perhaps you don't need either of these.

2. I would send it exclusively to the agent you met first, as hopefully she will get back to you relatively quickly. Even if she doesn't take you on, she may give feedback that you can incorporate before sending out to others. I would also feel like I owed her a first look as so few people are helpful with feedback if they don't feel they can sell the book. But then I'm a big softie.

Ultimately you need to choose someone you think you can work with and who will nurture your career in the long term.

Good luck!

BigPawsBrown Wed 29-Jan-14 13:58:45

Hi, thanks for replying, and I'm not sure I do know what I'm doing but the novel I'm writing has a better concept and plot, that i do know!

I think I agree about exclusivity, but what if she offers me? I know almost nothing about her except that she was very helpful...

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 30-Jan-14 21:52:48

Can you find out more about her? Find out what she's sold (search The Bookseller, which reports deals), read blogs by her authors (some of them are bound to blog). Does she blog or tweet?

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 30-Jan-14 21:53:58

There are also threads about agents on AbsoluteWrite - is she mentioned on there?

BigPawsBrown Sat 01-Feb-14 13:59:49

I know who she represents (one Booker winner) and I know some deals she's done but most of the agents I submitted to represent one big name. Tricky! I guess I'll keep an eye on Bookseller until I'm ready to submit.

I have looked her up on Absolute Write just now and seems reputable. Perhaps I can PM someone with her name!?

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