What’s an R&R aka revise and resubmit? This is when an agent (or editor) likes your writing, but there’s something about the manuscript that still needs work. Most of the time, an agent will e-mail you with specific elements she wants you to rework with the invitation to resubmit when ready. Sometimes, she’ll set up a call to speak to you about your manuscript. Unfortunately, this can mislead the author into thinking she’s getting THE CALL (an offer of representation). But if this happens to you, stay positive. This agent felt strongly enough about your work to take time out of her day to discuss revisions with you. This is a great opportunity for you because you can talk to her about her vision to see how she feels the story should unfold. Plus, you might be able to brainstorm with her on how to make the changes she suggests, which is something you might not be able to do if the agent had e-mailed you with an R&R. So while this might not have been the call you were expecting, treat it as GOLD.
NOTE: There’s a difference between an agent giving you personalized feedback with your rejection and an R&R. If she doesn’t specifically say you can resubmit after revisions, it’s not an R&R, and you shouldn’t resubmit. Some agents will take another look at your story after you’ve revised, but you need to query them again and wait for them to ask to see a partial or full. With an R&R, you would simply reply to the agent using the last e-mail exchange (unless the agent tells you to do otherwise).
The thing with an R&R is you need to decide if you want to revise the manuscript in the way the agent is suggesting. If her vision doesn’t match yours, you might want to hold off. Remember having the wrong agent (which includes someone who doesn’t share your vision for the story) is worse than not having an agent. You also have to understand an R&R request isn’t a guarantee. The agent can still reject the manuscript. Or she can offer to represent it and you. Nobody knows how this will play out.
Why does an agent ask for an R&R before offering to represent the author? Apparently, agents do this when they’re on the fence about whether or not to offer. Sometimes, they want to test their compatibility with the author to ensure their feedback is not only taken well but also that the writer is able to make the necessary changes to the manuscript. Or it can be as simple as the agent isn’t sure the changes she suggested will really make the difference, and the only way to find out is to read the manuscript after revisions. She doesn’t want to commit with an offer until she’s sure she has a product she can sell.
When should you accept an R&R?
-the agent requesting is someone you truly want to work with
-you share the same vision for revisions as the agent and believe the changes will make the story stronger
-when you feel the timing is right
How can you know if the timing is right? If you have a bunch of fulls out with other agents, and you receive an R&R, you have a few options.
-You can revise and resubmit to the agent who requested the R&R and keep the other fulls with the other agents. The risk here is that whatever wasn’t working for the agent who requested the R&R might not work for these agents too, and they might simply reject the manuscript. How much do you believe in the proposed changes? If you truly feel they will make the manuscript stronger, you might want to consider your next option below.
-You can pull the manuscript from the other agents, explaining you’re going to revise based off feedback you received. I wouldn’t necessarily mention another agent requested an R&R, because agents can be sensitive and competitive. You can ask if these agents would like to see a revised copy when ready. Be warned. Some agents will be upset that you’ve wasted their time with a manuscript that wasn’t ready and won’t want to see the revised copy. In this case, I hope you were really sure about the agent who asked for the R&R because you just blew your chance with this agent. However, most agents would prefer to see the best available copy and won’t mind waiting for it.
-You could wait to see how the other agents respond to your manuscript before you rework it. I’ve seen this happen before. A writer will receive an R&R but won’t start the revisions right away. Then she receives an offer of representation from an agent who likes the story the way it is or with minor changes. However, waiting it out could also mean all the agents who have your full will reject it and won’t want to see the revised copy later.
How do you know whether or not to revise and resubmit? You don’t. There’s no magical way of knowing what is the right move for you. All you can do is trust your gut. While it’s interesting to hear about what others have experienced, you don’t necessarily need to follow the same path. We all have a journey in this industry. Not one is the same.
Follow your heart.
Have you ever received an R&R request? What did you do? Why did you make that decision?