When an Agent Suggests Edits for Resubmission

Sometimes, we nail an agent-stopping query and the agent will immediately ask us to send more! “Oh please, dear writer, I simply must know more!” or in reality “Dear Julie, Please send the first three chapters along with a synopsis by responding to this message.”( The first way is so much more fun.) I like to picture that’s what really happens, and they chose to send the latter so I won’t think they are less professional.

What happens next? I get a rejection…six months later. Just kidding (sometimes). The next step, of course, is a request to read the full manuscript, assuming they enjoyed chapters one through three, but then what? Well, then you get a yes, a no, or a maybe. Let me clarify. A yes is the much anticipated “The Call.” It may also come in email form, but either way, it ends in an offer of representation. The no, is the rejection letter. However, there is a maybe that comes from time to time. Maybe is when they like it BUT. There are changes suggested, and you are permitted to resubmit your manuscript after those changes have been made. If you don’t agree with the suggestions, you may thank the agent kindly and move on. BUT, if you are willing, and the changes seem reasonable, you make them, and return them  for the agent’s second peek. A second chance in submissions is like a  unicorn. Don’t take it lightly and don’t let it go. It is practically a mythical beast and all.

At the COFW conference this weekend, one writer asked the agent/editor panel (Laura Bradford – Bradford Lit, Charles Greisman – Harlequin, Cori Deyoe – Three Seas Lit, & Leis Pederson – Berkley editor) “If we are asked for revisions or if we pitch to you tomorrow and you request a partial, how long do we have to give it one more comb through?” The answer was a resounding “Take your time!” Followed by “We implore you! Go slow. Be methodical. Be absolutely certain that what you send is the very very very best you have to offer.” <– That was more of a paraphrase than a direct quote. Also: Whether it is an initial request or a revision, you have up to SIX MONTHS to get the material to them before they decide you’re a flake or simply forget about you. One panelist even said that when she gets revised material too quickly, she assumes that it was done in haste and working with a hasty writer, is not a great asset. Another agent stated that she has had the same manuscript come back twice with revisions and it still isn’t doing it for her and now she’s getting tired of reading it.  (Please read: Gonna be a no because they didn’t take the time to nail her requests. Now agent has manuscript burnout from seeing it over and over).All agreed that if you want clarification on something ask. It is better to be certain of what you are trying to do than to do something that doesn’t work and lose your unicorn.

So query, submit, and then breathe.

Take your time, and give them your best.

If you get revision requests. Do Not Rush. Be careful with your unicorn.

9 comments to When an Agent Suggests Edits for Resubmission

  • Great info. Thanks for the tips! I have been trying to get agents their requested text asap. I’m learning…

  • Julie Anne Lindsey

    Nicole! Me too! I always think of the hundred of queries they read everyday and press myself to get back to them in no ore than a week so that I will still be fresh in their minds. Turns out, they see rush as haste, and are probably right. I see lots of missed things when I look at my resub a month later while waiting to hear back. Great advice for us all. Slow Down.LOL.

  • Valerie Haight

    Great post, Julie.

    Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency has blogged about this same thing. The agent wants to know the writer has taken ample time working with their comments inside out in order to please them (or more to make it what it needs to be). Make no mistake: They know how much time that takes! When the ms is re-submitted the next day, they know also that it’s not going to be worth their time to re-read. You’re so right, we need to protect our unicorns!

    I hope at some point, I get a unicorn. :)

  • Julie Anne Lindsey

    Valerie! So true! For the record, I also consider you a unicorn :) I never take my writer pals for granted. Thankful for you!

  • This makes me feel a lot better. I’ve been working on a R&R since the end of May (I got the request in early May, but I took two weeks to rip my plot to shreds and put it back together, then took a week off before diving in). I had to backtrack and delete a staggering amount of words in August, but it should be ready to go before the end of October. It’s good to know I haven’t blown my chance (a few people have implied it).

  • Julie Anne Lindsey

    Helen! First of all congratulations on the request! They saw something they liked and it was very smart of you to take your time with it. Next-Losing words is a sad reality that I can attest to. I’m down 7K after initial edits. I think half of those were either “that” or some variation of “had been” lol. I’m certain the agent will be thrilled to see your partial and the time you’ve taken will have been well spent!
    ***One side note/FYI to anyone who may not realize- the agent/editor machine slows to a crawl during the holidays, so if you don’t send soon, you will likely be waiting until well after the first of the year.***
    Please keep us posted on how that request turns out! I’d love to know how it goes!!All good wishes Helen!

  • At the Seattle conference I sent up a question as to whether a person should still send the requested submission if a year had gone by and they all said absolutely…!! Go figure…I guess I hadn’t screwed up my chances after all. That’ll teach me to really finish the novel before pitching it!!

  • Isn’t that great about submissions? Life happens, we get busy, called away. Then, a year goes by, we’re ready to work and they’re still there. Love it!

  • [...] agent is asking for. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to take up to six months for these changes. This helpful post by Julie Anne Lindsey talks about the re-write advice she heard from agents at a recent conference, including how an [...]

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