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R&Rs can be a fantastic opportunity, but more often than not they’re a tricky little time sink
Revise and resubmit. R&Rs can be a fantastic opportunity, but more often than not they’re a tricky little time sink.
They can happen while querying (an agent asks for one) or on sub (an editor asks for one). I’ve had both happen, and both flop.
What will happen is the other party will get in touch and say “hi, I see a lot to like here, but xyz element(s) aren’t working for me, are you open to feedback?” and then they’ll give you feedback, and then you’ll revise. Here’s a list of things to know:
This feedback shouldn’t be vague, it should be specific and helpful
Sometimes this is an exclusive process, meaning the requester gets to be the only one who reads the revision, you can’t share it with everyone considering your work (usually for a period of around 2 weeks)
It is NOT a promise that this person will acquire your work post-revision
There’s usually not a time limit/expiration date, agents and editors are willing to wait a very long time, months and months, potentially a year or more (so don’t rush!)
Here’s maybe the most important thing to know: you don’t have to say yes.
Even if you agree with the points! You don’t have to jump in right away and start revising. Because there’s no guarantee that the agent/editor will say yes after the revision, sometimes it’s a whole lot of sunk work to tailor a book for a specific person whose taste is subjective. In general, you should only ever implement feedback you agree with and that you think will strengthen the book. This is true always, but this is especially true here. Your R&R offer is based on the subjective tastes of one person, and such a revision will not necessarily make your book universally marketable/desirable.
I dove right into both of mine because the timing was right (my work had been under consideration for a while, and I was on the brink of shelving so this was a last ditch effort) and because I truly agreed with several of the points that were brought up. Oftentimes you can wait to hear back from other people who are considering the work to see if they bring up the same points, however vaguely, and because your book might sign/sell as is to another person (and save you a bunch of work).
Then, neither of mine worked out! The way I revised the book still didn’t align with what these people really wanted, so we parted ways very amicably and I sent my books out more widely for others to consider. I got stronger books out of it, but if I were offered another R&R I’d really hesitate/put it off until I had to. It’s tricky revising for one person knowing the book might then be less appealing to another. It’s all tricky, which is why people tell you to be wary of R&Rs. I’m endorsing that viewpoint: be careful. As with vague critique, look for patterns rather than a single opinion.
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