Revise and Resubmit? What exactly does that mean?

     I have a lovely e-mail/Twitter/Facebook friend who submitted a manuscript that I read quite a few years ago, when I was just a lowly assistant. I passed on the manuscript, but I gave her feedback on it because I could see the seeds of something good in there yet it  needed a lot more work. She recently resubmitted the manuscript to me and told me what a difference my initial input had made. Well, I passed on the manuscript again, but again I gave her feedback and told her I looked forward to seeing it after she’d revised it again. Here’s the cool part:  She keeps thanking me and the manuscript just keeps getting better each time she resubmits it!
     To me, that is the sign of somebody who takes the craft of writing seriously. She’s doing the work. I was going to write a whole post about revise & resubmit, but she said it better than I ever could. With her permission, this is what she wrote to me:
     “In the past I made the newbie mistake of thinking I needed to rush to get it back (but, ahem, not this time) and that’s probably pretty common. Writers rush for various reasons, including being afraid the agent will forget about them. But sending back the same manuscript with a few patches on it two weeks later is only going to result in rejection.  Tear it apart, reconsider, rethink, reconstruct, trim, tighten, slash entire chapters, nix or add entire characters or subplots. If the writer doesn’t feel a rewrite is necessary, it’s not a good agent/author match anyway and the writer should query elsewhere.”
     So when I (or any other agent or editor) give you feedback and ask you to resubmit, I’m not being polite or nice or anything. I really want you to do the work, like my friend suggests.  And then resubmit it. Because honestly, I wouldn’t waste my time giving you feedback if I didn’t think it was worth it.
     How do you feel about revising and resubmitting without a solid offer of representation on the table?


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11 responses to “Revise and Resubmit? What exactly does that mean?

  1. Mary (2-4-12)
    I received an R&R eight days after I submitted my first a novel. I was positively thrilled and humbled at the same time. For an editor to take the time and explain to me where I was going wrong gave my confidence a major boast. I’m working on my problem areas now. And you know? This editor was right. My novel is reading much smoother. Whatever happens next I won’t forget that editor.

  2. This was a great post! It is really hard not to rush sometimes. We writers tend to be in a hurry, hurry, hurry. 🙂 I participated in your first line post last night, but I noticed I was the only one who didn’t get a response. (I think) I believe it was in time, but maybe you missed it??? Or maybe you just hated it so much you couldn’t even stand to respond??? haha 🙂 THANKS!

    • I responded to all of the first lines. A number came in after 9pm EST, which I deleted, unread. I was pretty tired by then. I’ll run another first line critique soon though. So polish it all up nice and pretty for me!

  3. If an agent or editor gives me suggestions with/without representation, I would be over the moon, because that means I’m close to my goal. I have learned (happily) through my critique partners, that any suggestions are for the good of your writing. The best thing I know how to do is to release my ego, because the suggestions are for the good of my story.

  4. I look for any opportunity for feedback to my work. It’s like fuel for me. It gives me that extra boost of energy to stay on course when I think I’ve had enough of my writing. I think people who won’t accept feedback without an offer are pretentious. We’re all hungry-for feedback, for a publisher, for a book deal. Anywhere I can get criticism I’m willing to close my eyes and take it in-good, bad, or indifferent.

  5. Rhonda

    Wow, this lovely person sounds AMAZING. Okay, it’s me.

    Seriously, though. When I see people get pissy (on writing forums) about getting R&Rs, it flabbergasts me, especially when it’s a first book attempt. Makes me wonder if these people realize how rare it is to get feedback of any kind, let alone a chance to resubmit. Humility anyone? I did cartwheels when I got my first R&R because it was precious free advice from an industry professional and it made me feel like I didn’t entirely suck.

  6. I appreciate any constructive criticism offered on my writing. I don’t have to agree with it, or utilize it, but considering it can only improve my writing. And as far as making significant revisions for an agent or editor without an offer of representation: that’s a gift from that agent or editor. Why should they bother to offer editorial feedback if it’s not going to benefit them? One answer: because they are good people!! AND, if I agree with their suggestions, it only means great things could happen down the road.

  7. vano

    I invite the feedback and actually use it as motivation to improve my work regardless of a possible deal or not.

  8. I’m thankful for input from anyone who exhibits good literary sense, agent, editor or other reader. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

  9. I’m willing to revise for an editor who seemed nterested in my work–as long as I have a decent idea of what direction the revisions should take.