Revise & Resubmit: What’s Up With That?

imgresSo you finally get a response for one of the gazillion queries you’ve sent to all those perfect-for-you agents that’s not a “thanks but it’s not for me” and they want you to revise and resubmit. “What?! What does that even mean?” you might ask. Or, you might huffily think, “Why would I do a revision if they’re not even offering me representation?!” Or, perhaps you’re thinking, “I’ll do anything! I’ll change the whole thing if only they’ll represent me!” Or maybe your response is more like, “WTF is that crazy person thinking? They totally didn’t get what I was going for in this manuscript.” Or something else. What I’d like to do here is explain why an agent might ask you to revise and resubmit (or at least why I do).

I get so many queries every single day that my inbox is basically always overflowing. I have my intern (Hi Kimberly!) go through the queries to kindly decline the things that she knows I don’t want (like adult fiction, memoirs, romance, etc…). When we find something that I would be interested in, she’ll read the first 20 pages of a manuscript to gauge whether the writing is up to the standards of what I’m looking for. Then I will. If I’m still interested, we’ll request the full manuscript. Then I have her read it and write a reader report. Then I decide whether I’m going to take my time to read the full manuscript, too. When I do read a full manuscript, I always go in with my fingers crossed that it’s fabulous, with my eyes and ears open for things that aren’t working. And then one of three things happens…

I decline. “Thank you for your submission. It’s really just not for me” because on further reading I realize it’s really just not for me. Or “Thank you for your submission. I’m afraid the writing isn’t where I’d need it to be to make an offer of representation,” because it’s not, and for whatever reason (and there are many) I don’t feel like I’m right for the project.

I gather more information. Because sometimes I’m interested in the manuscript but I just want more information about you as an author before making a decision about offering representation. I usually want to know things like if you have other manuscripts already written (especially with picture books);  if you’ve been agented before; if you’ve submitted your manuscripts to publishers yourself; if you’ve ever self published anything. Things like that. After gathering more information, I might then ask for a phone call if I’m still interested.

I ask for a revise/resubmit. This might happen because…

  • love your story but I think it still needs more work.
  • I want to see if you know how to revise before committing to representing you.
  • There are some major plot problems but your writing is so terrific that I don’t want to just pass.

Now, when I request a revise/resubmit I’ll usually explain what I think needs work. If it’s just a general “the writing isn’t good enough yet” that means that I really dig your plot but you need to up the ante on the writing. Easier said than done, I know.

So what should you do? Well… it kind of depends upon what your situation is. Of course first you should thank the agent and let them know that if you decide to revise you’d be happy to resubmit to them.

  • If your manuscript is out on submission to other places you might not be inclined to do a big revision until you’ve heard back from the other places. I mean, what if one of the other agents makes you an offer?
  • That being said, if what the revise/resubmit is asking for isn’t a big revision, then what do you have to lose?
  • What if the agent didn’t get what you were going for and is asking you to revise it to make it something you’re not interested in writing? I say don’t do it. (But that’s just my opinion.) I personally don’t think writers should write to get published. I think writers should write what they want and if it gets published? Bonus! I don’t think gutting something just so you can sell it is a good career move.
  • But if you’re kind of hearing the same thing from all the places you’ve submitted? I say do it! Why not? Even if it’s a major revision, if you can get what the agent is suggesting and you think it makes sense and will make your manuscript stronger, I say go for it.

Let me tell you a story… When I worked for another agent, reading queries, we received a query from a middle grade author who I’d chatted with on Twitter. She was smart and was very funny and I could see the glimmer of something really special  in her writing. I gave her a lot of feedback on her manuscript but passed for the agent I was reading for. Two years later, when I just started being a baby agent myself, she queried me with the same manuscript. She’d totally re-written it, based on the feedback I’d given her. Although I felt it still needed work, I took her on as a client. You see, what I had found out about her from the revise/resubmit was that a. she really was a great writer, b. she could revise the shit out of her work, c. she was easy to work with and took direction well.

Hope this is helpful. Feel free to post questions about revising and resubmitting in the comments below.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Planning the 2015 Writing Yoga Retreat

photo 5This winter’s been kind of brutal. Although not as bad as last winter, I’m still very much looking forward to the changing of the seasons and the coming of some warmer weather. And warmer weather, to me, means planning the Writing Yoga® Retreat! My colleague Stefanie Lipsey and I were in a meeting at The Glen Cove Mansion last week, working on some of the planning for this coming summer’s retreat, and as we walked around I couldn’t help but think about how far she and I have come in just a few short years. Stefanie and I had talked for years about running a retreat for writers, and incorporating yoga. Stefanie had already created the Writing Yoga website and had started leading Writing Yoga workshops.

Then in 2013 we planned and ran our first Writing Yoga Retreat. It ended up being quite small, just 6 people, but it. was. fabulous! Last year we offered the retreat again, and we reached our goal of having 10 people register. We smoothed out some of the bumps from our first year, added a couple of things, and the result? Another fabulous weekend. This year we’ve capped our registration at 15 participants. Stefanie and I like leading to a small group, the intimacy of it, having the opportunity to interact with our participants one on one.

But instead of me blabbing on and on about how terrific I think the Writing Yoga Retreat is, let me share what two of last year’s participants had to say…

This is from Pete Magsig, a writer from Illinois:

I was listening to Lily Allen’s Sheezus the other day, which happened to be the album I bought before the workshop, and the total-bubblegum-pop song “Air Balloon” flashed me back to last year. I suddenly remembered that I had this crazy burst of creativity following the workshop. It was huge, and on all fronts: music, writing, programming, and making things. That’s worth it right there. But the weekend also affords me the opportunity to brush shoulders with the business of writing. The editors dinner makes the whole “getting published” thing real, and my sit-down with you, Linda, was invaluable. These are things I do not have access to in my own writer’s circles. Other memories: I really loved the “readings” dinner. The “get inside your character’s skin” exercise was memorable. Sitting around and just talking. And there was one moment on the last day when we were doing yoga inside that really unleashed some mind-body catharsis for me. You know, the more I think about it, the whole weekend pretty much rocked.

And this from children’s book author Lisa Rose:

A lot of times I feel like conferences and retreats are one big race to see how many people I can meet and impress to further my career. The Writing Yoga Retreat is the opposite. You make connections with people not because they have a title, a best-selling book, or an award, but because you share a common love of writing and also move through life as a yogi. Yoga means “to come together” and that’s what we do as writing yogis. It doesn’t matter what genre we are or how many poses we can or cannot do. We come together to support each other on the mat and on the page. We just know that we are better together.

I’m very proud of what Stefanie and I have created and I can’t wait for the weekend of July 9th! I’m looking forward to being with the returning participants as well as meeting new people. Will you be one of those people? For more information about the Writing Yoga Retreat, please go to our website writingandyogaretreat.com or you can email us with questions at writingyogaretrat@gmail.com.

The Glen Cove Mansion Writing Yoga Retreat 2015

The Glen Cove Mansion
Writing Yoga Retreat 2015

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Inside Scoop: Dish From a Literary Agent Intern… 5 Sites to Help You Write!

8025427_1

Sometimes we need to get by with a little help from our friends; and sometimes our friends are bloggers, online publications, websites or just the internet in general. There is always something on the internet that can help you with whatever it is you need. Want to repurpose an old sock? *BAM* Google just found you 259,000 possible ways to do that. The purpose of my post this month (sorry to the fun-loving sock lovers) is to share some blogs and sites that may be helpful to writers. Here are 5 websites I found to be all around good, useful sites.

  1. Stacked – This blog caters to writers who are more interested in what is going on in the literary world. They not only review books themselves, but they also round up other reviews and overviews. You can send them your manuscript for review (no ebooks), which they will choose to post at their discretion. For a writer looking for feedback it never hurts to give it a shot.
  2. Authonomy – This site is run by HarperCollins and I think it’s a really great way to bring writers and readers together in a forum that is rewarding for all. It allows writers to upload a manuscript for others to read and get feedback on. It also gives you the chance to be featured on their homepage, based on how many views your manuscript might get. You can also get the chance to be published by HarperCollins if your manuscript does really well on the boards. The feedback and community that is built within the site allows for growth and connections for an aspiring writer.
  3.  The Write Life  – This site is a jack-of-all-trades. Not only do they write helpful articles on how to improve your writing, but they also can connect you with freelance writing positions, self-publishing and publishing opportunities, where to find critique partners for your work, and so much more.
  4. Wattpad – On this site, readers and writers come together in a community to share their work. Like Authonomy, if your story does well on the boards, there’s a chance it will be featured on the site. It seems to connect writers to readers more than anything else though. If you are looking for a place to just share your work and aren’t looking for major critiques and feedback, this site seems good. It looks especially good for people who want to get their creativity out there in an open forum. It can also probably help in building a following as an author.
  5. Worthy of Publishing - This site is a little more straightforward than the other sites. It’s not filled with some of the other amenities the sites listed above have. You just post to the site for feedback, get rated, and possibly get picked up by a publisher. That’s all. It is a forum for people who are looking for feedback or for those who feel they are “worthy” to get published.

I know it can be difficult and defeating sometimes but I think getting more connected, continually reaching out to different forums and communities, and allowing yourself to be open to critique can help you on your journey. Send me some of your favorite writing sites in the comments below!

Kim Photo BioKimberly Richardson is currently interning for Linda Epstein at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, while pursuing her Masters degree in Pace University’s Publishing Program. She also interns at the National Association of Professional Women. You can follow Kimberly on Twitter @kimberly_ann688.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized