A Change In Manuscript Plans

Have you ever written a story only to learn that someone else has written something so similiar that it could be its twin?  Well, it happened to me not that long ago.  Damn, that Publishers Marketplace for breaking the news to me.

The hard part about my dilemma is that this author is a friend of a friend.  We’ve never spoken to each other about our WIPs, and yet, our manuscripts take the same fresh direction in urban fantasy.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed at myself for not being faster.  😦 The chances of selling this particular manuscript to NY are between slim and none.  The rejections will come back with “Has been done” or “Needs a fresher take”. 

However, there is a positive for me, in regards to her fantastic sale.  For once, I was really onto something.  Who’s to say something else I have in the works or on submission won’t be THE ONE to take urban fantasy in an even fresher direction?

So where does this story stand?  I don’t know, to be honest with you. I know where it stands on my laptop (100-percent done) and where it stands with my crit partners (sixty-percent done).  Until someone tells me otherwise, I’m going on the assumption that this particular story is still viable.  I’ve put in too many hours to not give it a chance at some sort of publication.  Still, there will be a few changes I have to make, starting with the location.  I think I have a lead on that, although it’ll involve a three-hour drive to check the layout of the city.  I’ll also have to change the occpation of my heroine.  I’ve been thinking about doing just that anyway.  There will be a few more things, but I’m up to the challenge…just not happy about it.

One thing that I refuse to change is the family dynamics of my heroine, which is very similar to my friend of a friend.  That’s the heart of the story and the major motivation behind everything my heroine does.  That stays.  Sorry. 

If I move things around, there’s a chance my enthusiam will rise again for this manuscript.  That’s all I can hope for at this point.  Bummer, yes.  Defeating, no.

So, has this ever happened to you?  If so, what did you do?  If not, what would you do?


20 thoughts on “A Change In Manuscript Plans

  1. Make the changes you mentioned and go ahead with it. Because it will be written in YOUR voice, it will be different from your friend’s friend. And maybe someone else will be looking for a story like this. That’s how things happen. One publisher buys it, and other publishers want one similar. It may not be because the first publisher bought something similar, but something was in the air that gave you and the other author the same premise. And something is in the air that makes publishers think this premise is hot. So go for it!

  2. I just learned through a writing friend that Stephanie Meyer ripped off one of my story ideas. LOL. He said, “Oh my GOD! Her vampires live out in broad daylight, just like that one you…” Long story short, after my eye explosion I mentioned to said friend that I felt like a reverse vampire because I had to be off the roads before sunset, and then one thought rolled into an idea, yada yada, we hashed it over and now laugh about it. Who knew she hung out in Western New York?

    P.S. I haven’t any plans on writing it – but my take on vampires in daylight is vastly different from those I’ve already read.

    Marcia, I think you should keep your story as is. Seriously – voices are like snowflakes; I’m sure yours isn’t like the friend of a friend’s. If it were me I’d keep mine as is, especially if I was head-over-heels in love with it.

  3. Good point, Edie. About a year ago, I read one book that was pretty much a knockoff of another book. The only thing that differed were the voices. Well, there were other things, but it was pretty much the same premise. The part that sucked is shortly after that, publishers said, “No more X.” So, if nothing else, this will be the next beast I tackle on my list of priorities. Perhaps with a little luck, I’m still ahead of the pack. 😉

  4. Also, good points, ladies about the VOICE. I keep forgetting that there are a lot of agents who are sold on voice, too. Trust me, this chick definitely has my voice. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen. My mouth has been known to get me in trouble.

    LOL! Kathy, if she’s still hanging out in western NY, make sure you get pictures, an autograph, blood sample, DNA, and anything else you can sell it on e-Bay and make some cash.

    You also made me remember something else about my heroine, Kath. Her powers are ones that I’ve never seen before. That alone makes her unique and beefs up that conflict. Hmmmm. I think that light at the end of the tunnel brightened a few notches.

    THANKS ladies!

  5. It totally might still be viable! Remember that it takes about two years between the acceptance of a manuscript by a publisher and the actual pub date. So I say submit away! Plus publishers tend to publish stories in the same general family if there is a breakout story in the new/fresh/exciting genre. Good luck with this!

  6. Very true, Karmela! Thank you so much for the pep talk. Let’s hope this puppy is one of those breakouts, because I’ve found new love for this story after having left it alone for the last three months. 🙂

  7. Hey Marcia, that really pinches! Of course, you should put it out there. It’ll always be yours cause it came from YOU. I had a cool title once, and got compliments on it from professional people. A few year later, Rumor Has It came out and I have still the manuscript buried on an old computer where it never saw the light of day. LOL. Talk about thought transference. Oh well, it was one of those “learning” manuscripts. I still think of the characters, though, so I could always resurrect the little darlings. Change the title and walla!

  8. Thanks for the good vibes, LaDonna. 🙂 Within that first chapter of reading this WIP, I knew why I loved this story so much. Rest assured, I’m proceeding as planned with submitting it.

    Rumor Has It sounds familiar, but I can’t place the author. Oh well. Goes to show you how much of an impact it had on me. It probably made a million dollars and I’d never know. *sigh*

  9. Marcia, this has happened to me. The story that was similar hadn’t been sold, but the agent I was querying listed it as a work she was shopping around, and it was so close to mine, I couldn’t believe it.

  10. Michelle, this is one time where great minds thinking alike really sucks. While my story might be like so-and-so’s I’m still going to see if it’s salvageable, even if that means no necessarily going to NY with it. I refuse to give up on this story because I love it too much.

  11. Hey Beautiful!

    Congrats on being “book of the month” (just noticed that on your website)- that is so cool! THANKS for bopping over to tell me you saw news of my sale, that means they can’t take it away, right? *grin*

    Wow. Twin WIPs – damn the collective unconsciousness!

    You know, I was terrified to walk into bookstores for the 8, yes, count ’em 8 years I was trying to perfect ‘the book of my heart’ before it sold. I was so scared I was going to see someone have stolen my take on Victorian Ghostbusters and – bam, my work would be dead in the water. Truth is, with Paranormal being as hot and as mass-produced as it has been, there have been things similar. But no one has written ‘my book’ and no one will have written yours either.

    What has been said about the uniqueness of an author’s voice is dead on. (no pun intended). Go ahead and make the changes you need, and who knows what kinds of lovely discoveries will spiral out from there?

    I couldn’t have imagined another take on the relationship between my Hero and my Secondary lead until my editor wanted to see more of her and a whole new part of them cracked open to me, years later. It was really thrilling. Sometimes these ‘derailings’ end up being the best things that ever happened to our books, because they lead us to even more new innovations, even if the idea was fresh to begin with.

    Besides, to echo what has also been said, there is a lot of overlapping in our genre. We’re all just telling the same Shakespearean stories over and over again, right? And he stole them from the storytellers before him. Aren’t there just like 10 stories that all of us keep recycling? (Only our genre makes sure the witches from Macbeth get a starring role *grin*) You believe in your book, your friends and readers believe in your talent. You’ll make something awesome in the end.

    Sage words from a famous Hollywood executive to my screenwriter friend in LA, and I find this statement startlingly, regretfully and hysterically true: “We’re looking for something ‘uniquely derivative'”. Nuff said.

  12. No way, girlfriend! Leanna, if anyone takes that away from you, you send them my way. I’ll take care of them for you. 😉 I’m telling you, I felt myself grin all over again at your fantastic news. I can’t wait until your Victorian Ghostbusters comes out. It’s going to be awesome. Even better, it sounds like it’ll be right on time for the new Ghostbusters movie Hollywood is talking about. How cool is that?

    And thanks for the congrats. I had no idea until the coordinator contacted me and said, “By the way we’ve chosen your book.” I swear I almost died. With all of those NY published authors (and few NY Times Bestsellers) you chose mine? Surreal!

    You’re right about the derailings. In just the few updates/changes I’ve done to my manuscript, it’s stronger for it. Not to mention, the thrill is still there, if not even better.

    That quote is right on the money, too. When I think about the stories that have been recycled throughout the years, they’re just the same old, same old, but with magnificent twists on them. I won’t know if my story has the twist without giving it a chance. I’ve been so encouraged by everyone’s thoughts on this that I’m damn well going to do everything in my power to make sure this story gets out there. I’m too passionate not to.

    Thank you for the shoulder, Leanna. 🙂

  13. yeah, I wrote a “demon romance” before it became popular, in fact that is what SAVE MY SOUL is, but…if I followed the traditional route, you can bet people would think I was “trying to copy” and I just don’t have time to mess with that.

  14. I hear you, Zoe. That’s my biggest fear about my urban fantasy. People will say, “she just copied so-and-so.” Whether they believe that or not is their problem. I’ve got more important things to be snippy about. 😉

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