Monday, November 9, 2015

What To Do With Revision Letters

We have talked a lot about rejection letters, but let's throw a little spin on this on. What do you do if you get a revision letter?

Now let me say, this is something a lot of authors would dream about receiving instead of a "thanks, but no thanks letter." But, it is important to consider what is really going on here.

There will be times when an editor or an agent likes something about your writing. But then you read the letter and it sounds something like this...

Although this story has a lot of things going for me, it isn't quite what I am looking for. When it comes to the character....[insert long description here]...Should you like to revise this project, please feel free to send it to me and I can look at it again.

This editor/agent is actually doing several things here. First of all, you did intrigue the person enough to keep the door open. Even if this project is not the one, there are some things that are saying you might be on the right track. If this is a place you want to work, or a person you want to work with, then feel good about yourself.

Secondly, this person is telling you want to fix. This might be a hint that says you are really close and if you want to go for it, this might be all that you need to do to get that call and move on to a new level of your career.

Next, this is also a chance to see what you do with the work. In some ways, consider this a test. Are you someone who can take the notes I give to you and make the changes without me having to spell things out for you, or write it for you. In this case, it is sort of a blend with that prior reason. The reader likes what you are doing, has some questions, but now wants to see what you can do.

Although all of these sound great and a writer might jump on the chance, it is important to stop and consider a few things. Remember this business is very subjective. If one person says they don't like something and would like to see your project go another direction, some other editor or agent might like it just the way it is. This is really important if you get a letter like this from an agent. That agent is just shaping the story in a way to match the direction they think the story could go. Another agent might see this story heading to a different group of publishers.

The question now is, "will the time you spend on revisions be worth it for just one person?" If you are committed to this person, and you know you can make those changes in a reasonable amount of time, then it might be worth the changes. If, however, you have this project out with a couple of other agents that might be higher up on your wish list, then doing the revisions might not be a good use of time.

I would have to say that should you get those comments, and decide not to do the revisions, a nice letter stating thank you for the advice and you will certainly work to include these in this and future manuscripts. Tell them you might have another project that is a better fit (hopefully you do) and tell them you will most likely send that in the future.

Now, if it is an editor who is doing this, and obviously it is one of your chosen publishers to work with, then you do those revisions and you do those revisions fast. The clock is running! Do not think that this is an "open door" and you can send it anytime you want. Show them you can make changes quickly.

In this case, it is also good to send a quick note and tell them when they should expect to see those revisions. This keeps things professional, and, if that editor has a project they are already thinking of, they can keep you in the back of their mind.

I should say, we don't always give out these revisions. Reading a project and putting together a full revision letter is a lot of time and work. For agents, you also have to remember this is work done for free and we would hate to give you all of these revisions, and then you take off, give it to someone else who makes the money. For me, if I do pass on a project and give you a reason, I have also logged that reason into my database. This way, when you do send a new project, I will often go back and see what I said the first time. If you made those changes, then we might be on the right track!

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