Monday, September 8, 2008

Adapting your manuscript

When you are getting ready to send out your manuscript to publishers, you need to make sure that your story really is what they are looking for. I have said this before, but as a refresher, remember that your story is not going to work for every editor out there. Your sub-genre (paranormal, historical, and the like) is likely to be suited to a limited number of editors out there. This is due to the voice of your writing matching up with the voice of the publisher.

So, how do you increase the marketability of your work? Adapt it to various houses.

Now, this is more than simply adding or deleting words. This is really an issue with the level of depth and the perspective you take with your writing. Please be warned, this may mean a lot of extra work but in the end, it is worth it.

Take a look at your writing and begin to work the charactersitics of the houses you want to work for. Examine them carefully, noting the level of depth they have with their characters and plots. Now, go back and examine your writing. What you will find is that you can create new stories with that same base manuscript story.

I don't recommend doing this all of the time, but for those of you with stories that cross the line between a couple of sub-genres, or the writing really could go to a couple of places, take the time to do this activity. What you may find is an increased chance of selling.

Good luck!


  1. Definitely not all the time, but it's a good reminder. It seems like writers, especially newer ones, think their work is sacred and nothing can be changed.
    They don't understand that even when they sell the book there's a good chance they'll have to do revisions.
    It's important to knowledgeable and flexible. Is that what you're saying?
    Anyways, nice post.

  2. Another good post. You must collect these.
    It has really helped me to find out what kind of work each agent seems to be buying, and a few ways I've found to do this is to look at "Who Reps Who?" on Querytracker, and to bring up the list of upcoming books that seem to be prmoted on many agency sites. The Publishers Weekly site often lists sales and deals for specific agents. The publicity page for a particular author often gives their agent's name and address. If all else fails, call the publisher and ask.This has saved the bacon multiple times, in so far as an agent's web page indicates they accept all sorts of genres, but in reality they only seem to be buying chick lit or paranormals. I don't think the web pages are ever updated, and of course they will go with whatever is selling best right now anyway. Good luck to everyone.

  3. Anon,

    One thing to consider on the Publishers Weekly site is that the information about sales only shows up if the agent sends in the sales. Sometimes publishers send it in, but most of the burden lies on the agent.

    As far as the websites being updated, I agree with you on that one. I wish more people had sites that continually showed the work they were really interested in seeing. And yes, this goes for editors as well.

    Oh well, work with what you have.