As a writer, taking criticism is never easy - whether it's bad reviews on Amazon.com, feedback from betas or a jab from a frenemy. It's not fun taking criticism from your editor or agent either. Only in traditional publishing they have a nicer word for it: 'notes.'
Your first round of notes will come from your agent. He or she might want changes based on the market, his or her own personal tastes, or the editor they have in mind. So you'll probably have a round of editing to do before your agent even begins shopping your book around.
My advice is this: keep your relationship with your agent (and everyone else you work with) amicable, but follow your heart when it comes to making changes to your manuscript (MS). It's a real balancing act trying to protect your own vision while staying on good terms with the (many!) people who get involved in bringing your book to market.
But it's something you have to learn how to do.
btw - once your agent gets you a deal on your manuscript, you probably won't deal with them much anymore - at least not about that book.
A) a good agent is busy trying to get deals for his or her other clients; and
B) a good agent is only going to care about getting you a deal on your next book.
It takes about 18 months to go through the whole process - from signing the contract to the book hitting the shelves.
But throughout that process, your agent is going to be asking you about your next book! You'll be so swamped by revisions on your first book, you won't want to think about your second one. But you should!
That's because your publisher has secured the first right of refusal on your 'Next Work' and your agent will want your publisher making that decision as soon as possible. (On the very, very slim chance your book tanks and your publisher cools on you.)
btw, some publishers won't even consider your Next Work until 60-90 days after your current book hits the shelves. That gives them time to see how it's going to perform - and how good a self-promoter you are.
(All this provided you haven't already signed a multi-book deal, which is for the lucky few, unfortunately.)
However, this particular part of your contract is not standard. On my second book, the publisher had sixty days from the submission of the next proposal to make an offer. So carefully read your contract and get that second proposal in asap. Because - on the very, very, extremely slim chance your book flops - you could already have another book deal in place. And that's good news!
btw I've worked with some of the biggest publishers in the world - and some of the best editors in the business. But the process wasn't anything like I expected! For one thing, the 'editing process' is not called 'editing.' It's usually called 'revisions.' And it's probably nothing like the glamorous fantasy you have in your head.
But that's for next time.
If you haven't seen it, I wrote a guest post for author Gordon A. Wilson about the top five reasons I'm going indie this time - instead of back to those big New York houses. Check it out!
And hit me up on Twitter: @SLMcInnis - I'll follow ya back!