Friday, May 18, 2007

May 18, 2007

Question of the week:

Is it possible to read your own manuscript without editing it?

I think I know the answer to this one—a great big emphatic—NO!

Although, if there are any of you out there that would answer ‘yes’ I’d love to hear how you know when to quit. My fear is that my book will be released and in bookstores and I’ll still be trying to edit it!

It’s not as if I thought up a story, wrote it down and voilá—it’s published. Oh, if only life were that easy. It’s been an up and down process with plenty of rejections along the way. The constructive criticism from some of the rejections, helped but each one required yet another revision of the manuscript. I’ve been through the book so often I’ve memorized some of the chapters and lost track of the number of times I said, “Yea, I’m done!”

I really thought I was finished when I found an agent willing to represent me. We got along well together (I thought) and she appeared to be excited about the manuscript so I signed on the dotted line. Then she gave me some feedback – too many unnecessary scenes. I moaned and groaned but went through the manuscript yet again.

At first, it was hard chopping those superfluous scenes (I worked so hard to write them). Several times, I even thought about hitting the ‘select all’ button and then pounding the ‘delete’ key and walking away from it all. But soon I got into the revision and actually began to enjoy hacking away. And, she was so right, the book flowed much better without them. Pleased with the outcome, I sent her my revised manuscript.

Complete silence.

Not good for the ego. She did not respond to any of my many e-mails, telephone calls or snail mail. I finally thought I’d do her a favor and allow her to back out of the contract; she didn’t respond to that either. She, by the way, is Susan Graham at About Words Agency. If she’s treated anyone else this manner, I’d love to hear from you. Misery loves company—and perhaps I wouldn’t take her rudeness and unprofessional behavior so personally. I could grumble for quite some time on this subject but it might ruin my good mood.

Once my contract expired (I’d held secret hopes that at the last minute she’d pop up saying, “Ta-da – sold”), I realized the ball was back in my court and I could longer blame inactivity on an ineffective agent.

First, I had to find out if my latest revisions were actually improvements since her silence led me to believe they weren’t. I gathered up my remaining bits of self-esteem and asked for help. An acquaintance from the GCWA (Gulf Coast Writer’s Association,, Ruben Colon, (author of Clarissa), bravely agreed to read my manuscript and give me his honest opinion.

I steeled myself for the worse. When I heard back from him and his first words were, “You are not a beginner,” my heart soared. However, I went through the manuscript again keeping his feedback in mind along with his refresher course in grammar and punctuation (I knew I should have paid more attention during English classes).

Now, as the manuscript moves up on the production list, I find myself going through it once again thinking that surely I won’t change a thing. But…alas, a tweak here, a comma there, some rearranging—, you get the picture. And, once it gets to the editors at ArcheBooks Publishing…well, I don’t even want to think about that now.

Thanks to all of you who reacted so positively to my first blog, it was great fun hearing from you.

Jane Sutton,
Author of The Ride, (ISBN) 1-59507-193-8/978-159507-193-4/1-59507-194-6.
Published by ArcheBooks Publishing (

The Ride - The death of a relative, the revelation of shocking family secrets, her husband’s bizarre obsession and a random encounter with a handsome stranger turn Barbie Anderson’s mundane existence into chaos. As events spiral out of control, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery only to find the route is neither simple nor painless.

Tags: The Ride, Gulf Coast Writers Association, Susan Graham, About Words Agency

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Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world