Monday, December 7, 2015

Revise and Resubmit

After sending out queries, we all wait for responses. Sometimes they don't come. Sometimes we
receive rejection letters. Sometime we get a hopeful, "Send me more," and then we wait again. We hope for a phone call and not a polite "no thank you" email. A yes, and we're flying. A no, and we're plummeting.

But what about that other response--the R&R. If you're new to the term, in the publishing world it does not mean rest and relaxation. In fact, it might mean just the opposite. The R&R we're talking about stands for revise and resubmit.

For today's post, I'm taking off my writer hat and replacing it with my publisher hat. I'm going to tell you why I ask for an R&R, what I hope you'll do, what I hope you won't do and about the negatives of R&R requests. 

Why I ask for an R&R: 
This is pretty simple. I really liked something about your manuscript. I saw something there that caught my interest, and not just a little. If I only liked it a little, I wouldn't bother with the R&R. I get this excited inner niggling when I come across something I really like--an intriguing premise, a strong character voice, a unique plot or setting. When I find this, I get excited. This excitement combined with well written sample chapters leads me to request a full manuscript. When the manuscript has problems, but I see great potential, I'll request an R&R.

What I hope you'll do:
I hope you'll take the advice I gave when I requested the R&R and dig into your manuscript, that you'll edit with new eyes. This is a second chance, so take full advantage of it. I hope you'll make global changes and then get new beta readers to supply feedback in light of what I've asked.

What I hope you won't do:
Simple--rush. If I ask for an R&R, it does not mean there are only minor tweaks to be made. If the
changes I wanted were minor, easy changes, I would've just proposed offering a contract and making those changes during the editing process. An R&R means the manuscript needs significant changes that exceed what Rebelight Publishing will undertake in the editing process. If you send the manuscript back to me within a week, I'm going to be pretty suspect of the quality of the revisions. As always, take your time and make your manuscript the very best it can be.

What are the negatives of R&R requests:
  • I move on. A week after I send you an R&R, I may find something that I like equally, but doesn't as much revision. We may sign that author and by the time you send me your revised manuscript, I may no longer be interested. All the more reason, to rush, right? No, because I may still be interested, and if you don't bring your manuscript to where it needs to be, you've just blown your second chance. I won't give a second R&R. I'll just assume you're unable to do what's been requested.
  • I may still decline the manuscript. Perhaps you did what was requested, but it went in a different direction than I'd hoped. This doesn't mean it was bad, just different and not something I felt fit with our publishing goals. However, with the manuscript newly revised, it may catch the attention of another agent or editor.
  • You may not want to make the changes I requested. I'm a strong advocate for authors telling the story they felt compelled to write. Whether or not you attempt the R&R is totally up to you. Take some time to think about it. If you don't feel comfortable taking your story in the direction I suggested, then don't do it. Keep searching for an editor or agent who gets your vision for the manuscript.

I encourage you to take full advantage of the R&R. Work hard to show the person who offered you the second chance that you're just the type of professional they'd like to work alongside. 

Have you ever had an R&R request? Tell me about it in the comments. 


  1. Great post! I have gotten an R&R and it was nerve-racking wondering if I was taking too long. Thanks for the "Slow Down" tip.

  2. I also received an R & R. I thanked the agent and said I would consider revising and resubmitting. Instead of rushing to make the changes, I decided to hold off for a bit. In the meantime, someone else asked for a full read. So I'm waiting to hear back.

    Having been a manuscript reader for a publisher, I see the value of taking your time. Usually when an author rushes a revision back after two weeks (thinking that a rush was necessary), the manuscript wound up being rejected.

  3. I received an R&R request; after about 2 weeks of wondering if I wanted to put the work in, I really couldn't come to a decision. So I started making revisions on a trial basis to see how much work was involved. Turned out it was quite a lot, but having started, I liked the way the MS was developing. I did have my beta readers take a second look, and they pointed out a few scenes that lacked transitions (the transitions were in parts of the MS I cut), so I had a little more work to do. The betas were so helpful, and I completely support your recommendation to consult them. It took me more than 3 months to revise, and I'm totally thrilled with the "new" MS. I resubmitted it but haven't heard back yet. But I'm feeling more confident than ever that I have a publishable MS, so even if it's rejected, the process was well worth it.

  4. I had one R&R on a PB manuscript this past summer. I really thought I had taken that manuscript as far as I could, but with the editor's thoughts and a fresh look from my critique groups, I did a major R&R on it. I did send it back and it ultimately got rejected, but the manuscript is so much better and I feel certain it will find home someday! I just received an R&R on another manuscript, but am not sure I like the direction they want me to take the book in, so I'm still considering that one. Thanks for a timely post!

  5. I got one for a partial two months ago for an agent, since she gave me personalized feedback. She said I can resubmit, but not guaranteed representation. I sent it to her last month before Thanksgiving. I've worked on it for a month with beta and now waiting to hear back. I've been working on a full R&R for 3 agents now, which is taking me a long time due to life's obstacles, waiting to hear from beta, and other stuff. I hope to send it out to them in early 2016 like late January/early February. Great post Heather!

  6. I've always wondered what an R&R looks like, and I finally got one just yesterday, after querying and getting rejected for years. I'm going to see what I can do with my manuscript now, and since you say it's better to slow down, I'll probably wait to send it again next year. Thanks for the advice!

  7. Thank you for this post. I'm in the midst of an R&R. Even if the agent who requested it ends up passing on it, I feel that my story is much stronger for it and might have better chances of finding a home :)

  8. Excellent information. Thank you for sharing.


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