Tuesday, June 25, 2013

To Revise or Not To Revise? That is the Question

So here is the scenario. You just received a rejection letter from an editor or an agent. They passed on your project but gave you some really great comments to work with on your writing. Do you revise? This is something that even agents face when we submit projects for our authors and we too have to make the decision to revise it or not. What I do believe is that most authors would scream a resounding YES to this question. Of course you revise it and prove to the editor or agent you can take those revisions, make the changes and create something that is truly what they want. Unfortunately, yes is not always the right answer. As an author, it is important to really examine the comments that were made about your story and look at the task ahead with a "cost-benefit" mindset. Will the time and effort that you put into the project be worth it in the long run? Will the changes require a complete over-haul of the book or are these minor changes? Will the changes be something that completely changes the story to something you don't want in the final project? It is also important to remember that the changes you make might only work for that one editor or agent. In other words, is there a chance that the project will work for someone else without making all of the changes? Think of it this way. This is a big commitment to make for one person! As I said earlier, this is something that agents face on a pretty regular basis. In fact, we just got a rejection back from an editor who loved the story, love the writing, but there were some tweaks that would have needed to be done to make it work. I had the chance to talk with the editor and we really worked through the things that would need to happen. In this case, we both came to the conclusion that making the changes for the middle would require changing a lot in the beginning. Those changes might actually tweak the story in the wrong way. I know it seems like a reasonable thing to simply say "I'll change it for you!" but before you do these changes, certainly take the time to think it through before you commit to it. I will tell you, sometimes it is better to look at the comments and make sure the new project you have is taking advantage of those comments.


  1. What if agents request the full, but the rejections all come back "liked, but didn't love it" with no other comment.

    Should the author revise?

  2. I found this a really helpful post. Thanks.

  3. Mystwood, My only question to your question is, "What would you revise?" Just changing something isn't going to take care of a subjective reason for rejection. Unfortunately the liked but didn't love it comment is common. Remember that as an agent, we have to totally fall for a project and sometimes that doesn't happen!