Revise and Resubmit Request

writing desk

This is a great post from Carina Press on what exactly a R&R request is from an agent/publisher, and why you should be happy to get it. I know I would be over the moon to get one (and yes, I realize that means I’d actually have to submit something first…). The upshot is it is not a flat-out rejection. Far from it, if they’ve taken the time to read your manuscript AT ALL, and spend the hours that go into crafting a ‘revise and resubmit’ letter, they see a great deal of potential in something.

The revise and resubmit letter should never (ever) be viewed as a rejection. Trust me, if the editor wanted to reject your book, it would be a lot less time consuming. The R&R letter can often take hours for the editor to craft, after they’ve made extensive notes while reading your book. We don’t just whip out an R&R letter in 15 minutes and send it out. It gets crafted by the editor and then read by me and we discuss. We want to make sure that the letter is clear, lays out the issues, but also tells you why we love the book and want to see it again.

There’s something there they love. Do a happy dance! While there’s still no guarantee they’ll publish your manuscript even if  you do all the requested revisions, I would consider it valuable feedback. The fact that they took that kind of time to go over it and put together a detailed critique with ideas of how to make a manuscript stronger should say a lot. If they didn’t think it really had potential, you can bet your bottom dollar they wouldn’t be wasting their own time on it.

That said, some writers will still be insulted to find out their precious darling is not quite so precious just as it is to someone else (kind of like kids and dogs… insert W.C. Fields joke…). You can obviously take it or leave it, maybe you think they’re dead wrong and don’t want to do what is suggested. That is the writer’s prerogative. But consider yourself fortunate to have gotten someone to read, really read, your manuscript.

11 thoughts on “Revise and Resubmit Request

  1. Oh, no doubt! I spend so much time encouraging my students to take full advantage of the revision process; the idea that an actual pro who’s on the path to paid publication has actually read your stuff and given specific feedback would be great news.


  2. Just getting past the interns who are paid to send out form rejection letters on unread manuscripts is a small triumph in itself. To get it read all the way through, and get real constructive feedback from someone in a position to say “Yes” would be a dream come true.


  3. You know it can be so discouraging to find Snookie’s book rushed to publication while other writers are creating beautiful and meaningful work in obscurity. Our culture’s urgency to make a buck off “the next best thing” kills off creativity in its cradle. No “masterpiece” ever sprung fully formed from the first pass of the artist ~ only hubris would claim otherwise.


  4. Her book had to be rushed, because a year from now she will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Her relevance will be short-lived. (Ok, I’m a cockeyed optimist on this, I have to be). It’s not like she actually wrote it, either. She’s been getting shredded on the interwebs, at least by the people I follow. And if it keeps publishers solvent a little longer it will have served some purpose at least.


    1. Thanks, Chazz. It seems like it’s an aspect of writing that is rarely discussed. Everyone’s so focused on finishing a manuscript and moving on to the next step of trying to find an agent, and the conversations seem to stop there. The rest of the publishing process is still largely a mystery to most people.


      1. And any writer who’s any good will tell you that there’s nothing shocking about the first draft being kinda crappy, not to mention very different from the finished product. Actors wouldn’t put on a play without rehearsing; athletes wouldn’t play an important game without having a practice first; almost nobody buys a new outfit without trying it on to see how it looks; why would we think that writing’s any different?


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