Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Editorial Process ... And When do You Shelve a Manuscript?

I wanted to open up a discussion on the individual editorial process ... and trying to determine when you've done everything possible and it's time to shelve the project.

Note: this goes for unagented authors and also those trying to write a novel that isn't getting picked up by an editorial house.

Here's my typical "editorial process"...

  • I draft.
  • I do a cursory edit.
  • My core CPs (my fellow local San Diego writers over at YaKnow) critique - sometimes throughout the process, sometimes at the end, and after nearly every round of revisions!
  • I edit.
  • I ask another group of authors (many from this blog) to do a critique. 
  • I edit.
  • Depending on the timing, I will also submit queries, first pages, first chapters, etc to contests, YALitChat, agents/editors at conferences, etc. 
  • I edit.
  • For the projects I've queried, I take agent feedback (if any) and do even further revisions on the project.
Thus far that's where it falls flat. I feel like I get to the point where I don't know what else to do. I could cast a wider circle for feedback. I could pay an editor to read the work. I just never know how far I should continue before cutting my losses and moving on. Because sometimes it's not about the writing ... it's about a trend already run its course, or a topic nobody is interested in purchasing, or personal tastes really!

I'll admit to shelving a couple of projects. One after I had an agent, went out on a couple of editorial rounds, and ultimately parted ways. Another I shelved before I even got through a complete read by my CPs. And now ... after getting rejections from several agents ... I'm consider shelving another one.

So what do you suggest? What do you do?

Image Source: SXC


  1. I tend to wait before i show my work to CPs. I find the first few edits I can tell it needs works and showing it to others too early means they just point out obvious stuff. In particular, once I have a complete draft, even though the story makes sense and has a beginning, middle and end, usually it doesn't have enough happening that's interesting and entertaining so I go through each scene trying to bring it to life, and then I get feedback.

    Moody Writing

  2. I have books on a shelf, too. One book, I completely rewrote, and it's still going nowhere. It's hard enough to kill our darlings in edits, but then to shelf them after all of the angsting, working, bleeding and crying? So. Hard. But write it anyway

    Learn from the ones on the shelf. An if it's amazing and you're in love with the concept, try stripping it to the core and rewrite. If writing is in your blood, keep at it! Even, if like me with BROKEN, you're frustrated and through trying to please anyone but yourself. Write it anyway.

  3. So much of this process is timing too. Shelving a project might not mean giving up on it so much as knowing when to bring it back out for a market that's ready for it. Maybe?


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