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Why Revise & Resubmits are Rare

When I take on a new client I do revisions. It’s inevitable and it’s always required. It’s the rare author whose book is so perfect I feel I can send it out untouched. Maybe I’m a perfectionist, maybe I’ll just never leave the editor in me behind, or maybe I know how picky editorial boards can be and I want to do my very best to make the book as rejection-proof as possible. Whatever it is, I’m an agent who does revisions.

A revision takes me, on average, weeks. After all these years I’ve figured out that I can do a maximum of 35-50 pages a day. That means at least two work weeks for a 400-page manuscript, assuming I can actually get to it every single day. So why is a revise and resubmit so rare for me? Because I don’t have 2-3 weeks to commit to something that might not even be resubmitted or that there are no guarantees the author can revise the way I think it needs to be revised.

If I like something enough, but am on the fence, I might send a short few paragraphs with revision suggestions, but you’ll never get a full revision letter from me. If a resubmit from that works I’ll likely offer. Often though I’ll just take the plunge and make the offer. If I like it enough to want to see the revised version I’ll just jump in and work it with you.

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7 comments

  1. So interesting! From other writers I get the impression that R & Rs are usually broad developmental edits like switch the POV, expand the magic system, increase/cut this subplot, make YA/MG/Adult, fix the ending, improve dialogue, etc, and then I’ll re-read it. Not so much full-on revision letters.

    Fun to know you often take the chance.

  2. Good reading.

    My literary agent only changed two words. He’s a 56 year veteran agent. I thank God he signed me.

  3. I’m curious, how do you tell if it’s okay to resubmit when suggestions for improvement are made? Is it spelled out, as in “please feel free to resubmit”?

  4. hello ive been trying to email you the email you have listed but it says the address not found

    you can reach me on my email

  5. I always thought R-and-R’s were just what you said they weren’t – an email with suggestions and a request to resubmit with changes. I didn’t realize some considered an R-and-R to be entire editorial letters. So in my mind, you still do the type of R-and-R that I’m hoping to see, if I see one. Good news for me! I’d NEVER expect an agent to spend weeks revising work they hadn’t signed onto… as an editor, that would be bananas! No one should work for free. Thanks for teaching me something!

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