Re-editing and the progression of my first novel, an 86,500-word YA Urban Fantasy


Active Member
Feb 29, 2024
I find that after the first lot to remove the typos and badly written sentences, etc., editing becomes a chore, but I doggedly persist in trying to create the best possible version, only to begin to lose interest and become bored with the whole thing. So much that I can hardly be bothered opening it. But knowing that you only get one shot with the same agent, or publisher who accepts unsolicited manuscripts - I have another go at editing - and lo and behold find some glaring error that I have somehow missed!
When do you let go?
Well, I have gone and done it! But only to agents/ publishers that only initially request the first three chapters and a 'full' if interested. Most agents, knowing that you make multiple submissions, ask to be notified if you get a 'full' request from somewhere else. Then they dig through the slush pile to make sure they are not missing something. So a manuscript that may not have been looked at, or hastily skimmed through by an unqualified intern, or even a student on work experience, who confidently sends you a standard rejection letter, having been told beforehand that 90% of slush is crap.
Sixteen submissions, and three rejections so far, I am hoping that - please, just one of you ask for a full!

PS You might be interested in an extract from an article from somebody in the publishing industry I have attached


  • SLUSH PILE.docx
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I lose count of how many re-writes I do. Some even up to the wire. If nothing else I always try and make my opening chpater as tight as possible.
I'm guessing this is not asking a question, but sharing status, so best wishes for your agent hunt!
When do you let go? On the first one, you just do it. I could pretend it was a considered decision. I could pretend it was gut instinct. But really it was just me telling myself I need to send it and stop mucking about. The same thing I'd told myself for months, yet somehow on that day I actually did it. I can't really explain it.

On the second novel, it was easier, by a tiny bit. Now, by that time I was fully resolved on self-publishing, but honestly hitting that Publish button isn't all that different in terms of psychological floundering than is sending off the query with sample. In both cases, you have to feel your novel is wearing its Sunday best and ready to receive visitors.

By the third, I was starting to get a sense. There are some objective markers, but they're mostly trivial. Passes spellcheck, formatted correctly, meets publisher specs, that sort of thing. The real key is earlier, when I resolve to make no more substantive changes, but will only correct a spelling error or update the Table of Contents. And that resolve is still purely instinctual.

All I can say is you get a feel for your own work and when you're done with it. That varies author by author. In trad publishing, especially with an established author, the writer gets to a point when the MS gets sent off because it's going to be gone through by an editor who will make changes anyway so there's no point in picking at the nits. And they've worked together long enough that the writer has a feel where that point lies. I suppose I could say that applies to myself, except that I'm both writer and editor.

Sometimes I wish novels were like children, and they would just leave on their own! <grin>

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