Bringing Back Older Work

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 24 2007

What is your advice about bringing back the first book (both books are romantic suspense) if I’m getting “good rejections” on the second, and it’s been a couple of years since book #1 was out there? Since there has been good response to the writing but not the story, do you think bringing back the first to try sounds like a plan?

As I’m sure many of my clients will attest, I think that every writer needs to have at least one manuscript under her bed, and it needs to stay there.

You mention you’re getting good rejections on the second book, but don’t mention getting good rejections on the first. There’s probably a reason for that. The first probably isn’t as good. Do not think that because you sell a book or are getting positive feedback that everything you’ve ever written is now publishable. I think it’s a mistake many authors make and one that could potentially be costly.

Writing is a process and hopefully with each book you are learning more and more about that process and improving as time goes on. Instead of sending those same people a book that’s not as good as the one they obviously liked, why don’t you work on book #3, a work that takes the strengths, but not the weaknesses, of books #1 and #2?


8 responses to “Bringing Back Older Work”

  1. You’re so right, Jessica. I unearthed my first manuscript recently and laughed myself into stitches–and not at the witty lines of my characters! The worst part is that I was so in love with that story at the time I wrote it. Your skills improve exponentially from book one to book three. Often, there’s just no going back.

  2. Avatar Tess says:

    I actually received a couple of good rejections on my first ms, but I’m pretty certain it still really does belong UNDER my bed!

  3. Ah yes, the very first book. I still have mine in a closet somewhere. I re-read it a year or so ago–or rather, I re-read the first chapter or so. I had to put it down. It wasn’t good. Oh no, not good at all.

  4. Avatar Kimber An says:

    I wouldn’t send out the first unless I radically re-made it. I’ve done that several times. Every story can stand improvement and a rejected one needs drastic improvement. Sometimes I combine and re-make. It’s fun.

  5. Avatar Maprilynne says:

    I always think it is funny when people ask if the book my agent is about to send out is my first. Because the answer is yes, and no.
    It is my first, second, third and fourth . . . sort off.

    It’s the second book I ever started, but the first one I finished. After finishing it I finished two more (including that first one that I didn’t finish–are you confused yet?). Then, having learned from all of that, I took the first book and it’s sequel (which was the third book I wrote) and put them together and gave it some serious plastic surgery. So it is practically a whole new book.

    But i guess technically it’s kind of my first book . . . sort off.:)


  6. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Although I received positive feedback from agents on my very first novel–they also mentioned pacing problems. I set the ms aside and moved on to book #2. Stopped after 100 pages because I realized the premise sucked. Moved on to book #3. And now I have an agent.

    Last year, I read a few pages of my first ms for kicks. Ugh. It deserves to remain in a drawer for eternity. But I also realized how far I’ve come as a writer.

    Now, I have heard of authors revisiting their first efforts and eventually selling–but that’s because they performed major surgery.

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Well, I have 16 unpubbed mss under my bed and I’ll never try to resurrect them (I’m pubbed now with 22 books sold with several major houses). Why? Because they were inherently flawed to begin with, and I’ve discovered that if I try to rework them, then I still stay within that same flawed framework. My experiences has been that th4e only solution to truly write at the next level is to start from scratch. Hence 16 unpubbed mss that will never see a bookshelf…

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I came really close to selling both my first and second books. Both went to the senior editor with a recommendation to buy before they were ultimately rejected. I haven’t even come close with book 3, book 4 was dead in the water half-way through. Now book 5 is done but needs some serious work, and I don’t even know where to begin.

    What do you do if you seem to be sliding backwards instead of moving forward? It’s not even fun anymore.