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Dumb Mistakes


This is a topic I know we all can relate to in some form or another. We all make dumb mistakes from time to time, whether at home, with our children, or at work. It happens in every aspect of our lives at one time or another. It is part of the process of learning, the process of becoming successful at the things we do. Most of us learn from our mistakes and usually won’t make the same mistake twice. Sometimes we do but if you haven’t learned after two times making the same mistake, there might be bigger issues!


In the stage I am right now, I have polished up my first novel, edited it dozens of times including having it professionally edited by someone else. I am in the middle of this process with my second novel. Editing your own work only works to a point. It’s hard to see what’s wrong when it came from your own mind so have it edited by someone who knows what they’re doing. I am excited and have sent it out to quite a few agents so far. In the time I have been sending to agents, I have received nothing but either rejection or no response, which is more common. It’s many times simply a reject in disguise. I have to say that most of the rejects have been kind and some have been complimentary of my work, just not what they are looking for at the moment. This helps to keep you motivated. But now for the most recent dumb mistake I made.


For me, the process of submitting to multiple agents in one sitting is a long process. I can spend between 4-5 hours sending out to ten agents. I will get into my process of looking for agents in another post but it is time-consuming. I don’t mind that part as I enjoy reading about agents and agencies before I submit. This last time I submitted to agents; I made a mistake that I did not even realize until a day after I had submitted to all of the ones I targeted for that session.


Going through the process, I submitted to a dozen agents on one Sunday. Everything seemed to go well and I was excited at the possibility of receiving a request for my manuscript. When I discovered my mistake the following day, my heart sank. I had submitted to each of the dozen agents the wrong version of my novel, an older version! I have no idea how I did this but it was not the polished, better version I had worked so hard on the previous weeks. I had to laugh about it as there was nothing else I could do. I heard some suggestions from friends and family about sending back out the correct version but I do not think that would fly with the agencies. I believe (and please confirm on your own if this is correct) that they accept only one version of a manuscript unless it has been rejected and then completely reworked by the author before resubmitting.

The biggest bummer for me was that I had submitted to one agent that I was really excited about, a famous author’s agent. He came up in my reference guide for agents and I thought why not? How exciting that I get to submit one of my works to this legendary agent! Only to discover my one chance was dead before it even had a chance. That opportunity bothered me the most. Not because I actually thought that this agent would love my work and sign me as a client but because it was exciting to think, what if? I suppose I can always submit another of my novels to him once they are polished and ready to go.

My lesson here is to check your materials and recheck the same materials before starting to submit. Check the version of your work you are using and be sure you are sending out the one you think will give you your best chance. This includes your manuscript, synopsis, bio, and anything else that is requested of you at the time of submission. I have created safeguards to never let that issue happen again. As mentioned earlier in this post, you need to learn from your mistakes and move on. As they say, there is no success without failure. Damn, am I going to be successful!


From my dozen submissions that I submitted on that day with the wrong material, I have received 3 rejections and the rest have been no responses. Two were nice, complimentary rejections and one was short and somewhat lousy. About what I expected. Once I knew the wrong thing went out, I figured there were a dozen rejects coming to me soon. But don’t let it discourage you. If something is not catching an agent’s eye, look over your work and rewrite if necessary or come up with a whole new beginning. Your novel is never done being edited until you are accepted by an agent and they say it is ready to go. You can’t do much about rejections but move on.

I am sending out my manuscript to a new batch of agents now with the updated materials and am excited at the prospect of a request for my manuscript. It’ll happen, I know it will, and I know one of these updated versions will catch the eye of an agent that is in the market for a novel like the one I just happen to have...


Happy reading, happy writing!


Doug

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