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The Danger of Revising Submissions

Consistently through my many years of blogging I’ve told authors that once you start submitting you need to be done writing and revising. You’ve put the book aside, in your head it’s published, and you’ve moved on to writing the next book. That being said, it’s not uncommon to received feedback on the submission, or have an epiphany, that forces you to go back and do revisions.

When that happens and an agent is still considering your manuscript (because she’s fallen behind like I have and still has requested material from May), one of your first instincts is to request that you can resubmit the new material. While I know this irks a lot of agents (me included) I get it. You want to always put your best foot forward and we want to only see your best foot. That being said, be aware that there’s the danger that the agent who first requested that material might see this as an opportunity to reject without reading it. Interests change, markets change or an agent just sees it as an easy way to clean out her inbox.

This happened with me recently, hence the blog post. An author had previously submitted and later pulled the submission to work on revisions. No big deal, I hadn’t read it yet, so I simply deleted it. When she completed revisions and asked to resubmit it I rejected the book outright. The second time around, for whatever reason, the query didn’t grab me. Part of that could be the fact that I’m inundated right now, another part could be that, since I’m inundated, the genre didn’t grab me.

I’m not writing this book as a warning to avoid revisions, I’m writing to just alert you of a potential danger. Truthfully, if the book needed revisions that badly I probably would have rejected it anyway so there’s no real loss to the author, knowing how this could work out from the inside hopefully gives you some perspective and explanation of why and how things happen.

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4 comments

  1. ye-ouch! It’s easy to infinitely revise but hopefully with diminishing returns. Better to move on and let the agent/publisher tell you what revisions need to be made.

  2. Ooh, a good warning. I know you shouldn’t start subbing until the ms is nice and shiny, but the temptation to *fix* when/if you get feedback or lots of rejections is great. Good reminder to believe in yourself and your book.

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