Monday, September 21, 2009
You asked for it. Now what?
Agent feedback. Most beginning writers will crawl across a field of cut glass on bare hands and knees to get actual agent feedback, but what do you do when you actually receive some? Do you blindly do what they say? Do you ignore it as if they don't know what they are talking about? (not recommended) Or do you analyze what they are trying to say and heed their advice given your own constraints? Let's look at some scenarios and I'll give you my opinion.
1. You only get one piece of feedback and it's craft related.
Example: Your characters aren't deep enough, or your descriptions don't evoke enough emotion.
In this case I wouldn't question the advice and just do whatever they said, right now. If you need to hone a skill to do that, then that's what you need to work on.
2. You get one piece of feedback and it's story related.
Example : The love interest between Han Solo and Princess Leia needs to come out much earlier and they need to get married and have kids.
This is tougher. It can change the entire face of your story. You are lucky that the agent spent the time to provide the feedback, but now you have to analyze whether or not their suggestion fits with your overall goals for the story, or not. It could be that the agent wants you to change the story to something more along their tastes. That may or may not fit with your skills, and goals.
If their comment makes sense, then by all means heed the advice. If it doesn't, then maybe that agent isn't right for you.
3. You get multiple pieces of advice.
Boy aren't you lucky. It means that you are getting close to being published. The fact that multiple agents are providing feedback means that you are generating interest, but something still isn't quite right.
Again, heed the craft advice and take the story advice into consideration with your goals.
4. You get conflicting pieces of advice.
Oooooh, this one is hard. I doubt that you would get conflicting advice about craft, but it could happen. If this is the case you are again dealing with agent taste, and you are left to your own judgment about what makes sense.
It's more likely that you will get conflicting story advice. There's no easy answer other than to weigh each piece of advice against your own skills and goals, and see which, if any, match up.
Agents know what makes a book sell. Most of them have been working with books for many years. I think that in general you should heed their advice. However just make sure that the type of books they sell are what you can deliver.
What types of agent feedback have you received?