Should you change your novel if a publisher suggests it? Interviewed by The Writers’ Lounge

How much would you be willing to change your novel for the sake of publication? That’s one of the questions I’m discussing today with Tom Riddell and Lou, co-hosts of The Writers’ Lounge on Blogtalk Radio. Join us as we kick off our shoes and unpick our art – and the state of publishing today.


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  1. #1 by Darlene Steelman on December 14, 2011 - 2:44 am

    Well, I have not submitted anything for publication since 1998 (which came back to me with some hand written notes on it)… I have a WIP in a drawer that will be edited on December 30th.

    I really feel like, since I am so close to the work (which is third person POV) that if someone else read it and felt it would do better in a different POV, I would give it a shot.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. #3 by Glynis Smy on December 14, 2011 - 7:24 am

    I turned down a publisher this summer. They wanted so much changed that the book I originally wrote no longer existed! I knew from my readers the book was OK, so could not bring myself to change it. I did try, but it was like holding an alien, strange.

    • #4 by dirtywhitecandy on December 14, 2011 - 8:18 am

      Glynis, what a monumental decision. Good for you.

  3. #5 by Sally on December 14, 2011 - 9:45 am

    Hi Roz! Would I change my novel for a publisher? Heck, no. At least not without an exceptionally good reason. I’d be more open to change in non-fiction, but somehow fiction is very much your territory. Your universe, as a reflection of your inner self. I can’t imagine letting someone stomp all over it and stick their proverbial flag on it. It would cease to feel like my own work. This is one of the few things I’m positively fanatical about, in case you couldn’t tell! 🙂

    • #6 by dirtywhitecandy on December 14, 2011 - 4:28 pm

      Someone else sticking their flag on your novel? No, you don’t want that. A good editor can help you make the book what you want it to be – and better. It’s nice when you hit upon one of those. But if you feel pushed into a box you don’t fit in, or shoehorned into someone else’s agenda, I’d say ‘run away screaming’.

      • #7 by Sally on December 14, 2011 - 5:15 pm

        Oh, yes, of course a good editor has the writer’s best interests at heart. I didn’t mean to suggest we should avoid editors as a rule. It’s a difference I guess between an editor making the best of your existing content and trying to change your content. The former is a good editor, the latter motivated by marketing concerns. I forget which writer it was, but there was a novel a while back that was critically acclaimed, but the fans hated the ending. It later emerged that the writer had been told to change his original ending and was never happy about it. That’s flag-sticking, and what I suspect most writers have nightmares about.

        • #8 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on December 15, 2011 - 12:10 am

          I’ve heard of that scenario too, Sally – more than once. It’s frighteningly easy to derail a novel with misguided advice – and very easy for writers to end up misled. Usually the best thing to do is to ignore the suggestions for putting the problem right – and instead to try to understand what’s wrong.

  4. #9 by Daniel R. Marvello on December 14, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    How fun to hear your voice, Roz! At first I thought it was you reading the section from your book. Then you said the reader (sorry forgot her name) had an American accent, which surprised me as she sounded distinctly British to my ear. I guess a South African accent is somewhere between!

    I was most interested in the “hat” process you described for story planning. I ordered Nail Your Novel last week, and it should arrive this Saturday, so I guess I’ll be able to read more soon. In any case, the process you described isn’t too different from what I’ve been doing. I use a writing tool called IdeaWeaver instead of index cards and a hat (I hate retyping), but the concept is similar. I look forward to learning more from NYN.

    • #10 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on December 14, 2011 - 6:57 pm

      Daniel, you’re South African? I had no idea! How funny that we converse regularly with so many people and are then surprised by what they sound like in ‘real life’!

      I find the hat process really useful and I’m even using it to play around with another NYN book. There probably are a number of variations – I’ve never heard of IdeaWeaver, but I’ll have to check that out. Have fun!

    • #11 by Daniel R. Marvello on December 14, 2011 - 7:04 pm

      Oops. Sorry I wasn’t clear. I’m not South African, but I thought the lady who read your excerpt said that she was. I live in Idaho, actually. It’s technically in the U.S., but sometimes I wonder. I have a forested 40-acre back yard, so it feels like my wife and I are in our own little world sometimes.

      • #12 by dirtywhitecandy on December 14, 2011 - 7:12 pm

        *Resets mental aural picture* Dear me, it’s been a long day 🙂 How lovely to have your own wood.

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