Monday, September 15, 2008

To Revise?

So, the question is this... When do you revise your story? In other words, when an agent or editor sends you comments in terms of revising your story (before you have signed with them) should you immediately launch into revisions?

Frequently and editor or agent will look at a submission and pass on the project at that time but offer up suggestions on how to make the story better. Sometimes they will even openly tell you to resubmit the story for later consideration. Should you do the revisions?

This is a tough call. Remember that the publishing business is highly subjective. What works for one editor/agent will not necessarily work for another one. Is it really worth the time and energy to make those changes? Well, it all comes back to you as a writer. What does your gut instinct tell you to do? There are several approaches you can take here.

1) MAKE THE CHANGES - If you have the time and the changes seem reasonable, make the changes and re-submit. Consider this. If the editor or agent took the time to give you a lot of feedback, then they may be showing some kind of interest in the book. Take them up on the challenge. If they didn't openly say you can re-submit, send them a quick email and check to see if that door is open. Thank them for the comments and just ask. The worse thing that could happen is you get a no.

2) CHECK FOR TRENDS - If you have your manuscript out with a couple of people, you can certainly sit back and wait for the other responses and see what they say. This is a gamble. Maybe someone comes back with a favorable response so the changes you would have made for the first person would have been a waste. Maybe you get a couple of the same comments. This would show you that maybe those revisions are worth it in the long run. The problem with this latter choice is that you may have lost out on the opportunity with the first editor/agent.

3) STICK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE - Remember this is your writing. No one is going to force you to make those changes. If, in your gut, you like what you have and you feel it is the way you want the story, then don't change. It may be that the timing is not right for that story and you can come back to it at a later time. If this is the approach, keep those thoughts in mind and work on that new project.

As you can see, there is simply no easy solution, but hey, isn't that what I say all of the time?

One final note in closing. If you are planning on sending me something, hold off until the beginning of October. I am off to the Women's Fiction Festival this week and will not be looking at submissions until I return. If you have a request for more work from me, feel free to hold off until then as well.




  1. Depends on the person.
    An editor for the line I'm targeting. Oh yeah, I'm revising. But I'm also saving the original UNLESS I agree so much with the editor that I know the original can die.
    An agent? Depends. Does it resonate with me? If not, I'll wait and see if any other agents say anything.
    And for other writers/critiquers, it's pretty much the same thing. Like you said, if the advice seems right on I'll change it, even if only one person points it out. If I don't agree but a whole bunch of people point out the same thing, I'll probably change it.
    If I don't agree and only one person said something, then I'll probably leave it.
    :-) Nice post, though. Sometimes it's hard to know when NOT to revise because I always want to take everyone's advice.
    LOL. That makes for a lot of contradictory changes.

  2. And if you want to be made more crazy, look up the contradiction between the DMLA agency list for Sept-Oct- and then look up their own agent's blog (Jennifer Jackson ) saying that she does NOT want to see some of the things on the list. The submissions also clearly copy what has been selling well right now, such as "stories told from an animal's pt of view,
    and so on. It is such a crap shoot. Look up Brunonia Barry's story-she skipped the whole process and published her own book, then picked up a publisher. BUT, she had a popular topic and lived in an area that still has a lot of small bookstores. AND they were willing to stock it. At ;east the odds are better than the Powerball drawing.

  3. Scott, you lucky dog! I would about die to go back to Italy-what a beautiful city it is, and we will look forward to hearing about the conference. I myself have thought of submitting to overseas agencies and publishers but suspect that since the ms. is set in England and Scotland, they will simply say "good idea! " and hand the subject over to a local writer and if Gillian Bradshaw has not grabbed it already, I am not about to plop it down on her all-too-capable plate. As my screenwriting books says, "NEVER send an agent an outline of your project. They will simply say "thank you,!" and hand it over to me, a good writer WITH a proven track record."
    Sounds like real life, all right, but one can hardly proceed without an outlibe in this business. Finally a real reason to write the whole blasted book before submitting. Doom and gloom, a year gone, probably for nothing.
    Meanwhile have a wonderful time in the sun.