Listening to Your Agent

Listening to Your Agent

Regular readers of this blog (hi Mom!) have followed the journey of Blades of Grass since it began last fall with NaNoWriMo. In a nutshell for you latecomers, I churned out 50K words, chucked them all and started over in March. Along the way, I had my wonderful agent, Stephen Fraser, checking in with knowledge and advice. Upon my urging, Steve gave me an end of summer soft deadline for getting him a manuscript to review. I translated that into a hard August 1st deadline for myself. And, ladies and gentlemen, I met that deadline!

So last week, I sent Steve the book before I jetted off on a vacation to Portland and Seattle. About midway through the week I heard back from Steve and…wait for it…he liked the book! I launched into my happy dance, which looks pretty much like this…

But with the “like” came some suggestions of how to make a good book great, which leads me to the point of this post: How strictly should a writer adhere to his or her agent’s advice on a manuscript? Steve and I chatted a bit about the book and he concluded the discussion with:

“Don’t make any changes you aren’t comfortable with. It’s your novel.”

Frankly, I didn’t disagree with any of the advice he gave me, and I’m perfectly willing to see if I can weave each of his comments into the book to, in his words, make it perfect. The fact is, I trust him to know what will work and what won’t. That isn’t to say I have blind faith, of course. It is my book after all. But I respect his opinion.

So, back to the question at hand:

How closely do you follow your agent’s or editor’s advice? 

3 thoughts on “Listening to Your Agent

  1. I am working towards getting an agent and thought it is an excellent article. I have had similar experience with my publisher working on changes. Congratulations!!

  2. I consider every suggestion with an open mind. If it adds to my story or is something that could potentially offend, I accept the change wholeheartedly. If only one person makes the suggestion and it is subjective, I use my best judgment. 

    Agents, beta readers, and editors all serve an important role. Often an author can't see what someone on the outside can. We know our characters, as we've spent more time with them than we have with our family in the last year. So what might be clear to us is not always clear to others.

    Your agent is correct that it is your manuscript, but if a suggestion doesn't affect the integrity of your story, more times than not it is usually a smart move to accept. 



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