Querying and dealing with an R&R (Revise and Resubmit)

Hello gentle reader,

In previous posts, I have explained how to maximize your chances of success during the querying process, how to make sense of rejections and when to make the decision to shelve your manuscript.

From those posts, you might have assumed there are only two endings to the querying process: rejection (“NO”) or offer of representation (“YES”).  But there is a third option, which I shall address here: the “Revise and Resubmit” option, aka “R&R”, aka “MAYBE-NOT-YET”.

What is an R&R?

It’s a letter (these days, it’s usually an email) from an agent who has read your full manuscript. This agent sees enough potential in your story to write you a letter, but she’s not ready to offer you representation just yet. Instead, she asks you to revise (according to her helpful suggestions) and resubmit your manuscript at a later time.

Is this good news?

It might not look like it at first glance, but it IS great news. Agents are busy people. Yet one of them saw enough potential in your story to write you pages of suggestions to improve it. Not only did this agent read your whole manuscript, but she thought about it during her daily commute and then sat down at her desk to write you a 3-page email.

What do I do now?

It’s entirely up to you. You may decide to go ahead with the revisions or you may decide to ignore them and carry on querying. Here are the questions you can yourself in order to make that decision:

–          Do you agree with the agent’s suggestions?

–          Do you feel capable of doing the required revisions?

If your answer is yes to both questions, then go ahead and revise. If you’re unsure, discuss it with your Critique Partners. Take your time and think about it: you need to be fully committed to these revisions; otherwise you’re just wasting your time.

Is this a test?

In a way, yes, it is.

The agent sees a spark in your manuscript, and she’s testing you in order to see if you are able to revise it according to her comments. You’re a potential client.

And for you, this is the opportunity to find out if you like the agent’s style and editorial approach. For a few months, she’s your potential agent.

How long do I have to complete those revisions?

That’s the tricky part. You’ve got AS LONG AS YOU WANT. An R&R is a great opportunity to show yourself and your story in the best light possible. There’s no need to rush. At the same time, most agents say that taking forever doesn’t send the best message, because they start doubting you can handle revisions in a timely manner. So between 1 month and 6 months is acceptable.

What happens when I resubmit?

Hopefully this time, the agent’s reply will be an offer of representation. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE. The agent can ask for another R&R. The agent might send you a rejection after all. But in the meantime, you’ve made your manuscript stronger, and it might just be what will help you find an(other) agent after all.

So tell me: have you had an R&R before? How did you deal with it? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

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