Monday, May 11, 2009

When You Get The Revision Letter

How do you handle that revision letter from an editor or agent? This one goes out to both the published and the unpublished authors out there because frankly, you will handle these the same way. I am going to break this down though into different categories though to make it a bit easier to follow.

If you are unpublished, and get that revision letter what do you do? Let's explain this. An editor or agent will not normally go through a lot of effort to provide extensive notes about what worked or didn't work for them with your submission. Yes, they will send comments (hopefully) but I am talking here about the extensive notes about the manuscript. Essentially, they have seen something worthwhile in your project, but at this time, in this format, it just isn't working.

Now I have heard many writers say, "well this is just subjective, I am sure the project will work somewhere else." While this is true, you are potentially missing out on an opportunity to revise and maybe get signed. Your job then, REVISE. Really read through those comments, and get the revision back to the editor or agent ASAP! Before doing this, I would suggest a quick email to them thanking them for the extensive comments and that you are going to send the revisions in a timely manner.

For the published authors, you too are to get those revisions done. In your case, speed is really the issue as well as a willingness to make those changes. Obviously if there is a serious issue as to why you don't want to make the change, then discuss it with your agent. There is a difference here too about can't make the change vs. not wanting to make the change. If there is a change that just doesn't work logistically, then bring it up. I always recommend following what the editor or agent says though instead of just not wanting to follow the direction.

The last part goes to all of you. When you make the revisions I suggest you provide a cover page with a bulleted list showing the changes. Take the comments that the editor or agent made and highlight those changes in your text. Be specific and if possible, show the chapters and page numbers. The more precise you are, the better they can see how the changes took place. Also, remember to discuss the "impact" that made on the story. I am not talking here about "it made it better" but something that states, this change allowed the characters to do X or the situation to take this or that turn.

Remember that revisions are a necessary evil. We give these to you to make you a better author and to be successful as a published author.

Best of luck!



  1. This post is a godsend! It never occurred to me to include such a detailed cover with the suggested revisions.

    THANK-YOU Scott!

  2. Makes perfect sense. Now all I have to do is get a revision letter.LOL
    Do they actually call it a revision letter? Or is this a case where you have to read between the lines?

  3. Revisions are the stuff of undecided fools. Had an agent tell me once to rework my book in another country. That no one publishes anything set in France. What then would i do with all the names, places and language that would need to be changed? Take them out? Easier tojust write another story. Bah! Is there no end to this suffering for ones art?