Should You Revise & Resubmit?

21 Oct

Querying can be terrifying.

Whether you’re searching for an agent or applying directly to an editor/publisher (or even your own agent), sending your work out there is a nail-biting experience for nearly everyone, including established writers. In fact, most writers will tell you that rejection is a constant part of the publishing process. No matter who you are. So is submitting.

Everyone faces rejection and acceptance eventually. And then, there’s the revise and resubmit.

A R&R is not a “no,” but it isn’t a “yes” either. 

It means an agent/editor/publisher liked your work enough that they believe in it and can see it moving forward after some significant changes. More often than not, an agent, editor, or publisher will give you some sort of feedback about what they believe you need to change. It’s not a guarantee, but it is an opportunity.

Should you revise & resubmit?

If you think you’re heading in the same direction, I say go for it. Your manuscript will be better in the end, no matter what happens, and I think that’s worth it. If you’re unsure about the revision notes, I honestly believe that means the notes didn’t resonate strongly enough to justify a revision. However, that is just me. Every writer is different. But I can admit that I learned this lesson the hard way.

Yes, I have revised and resubmitted—and received a “no” and a “yes” afterward.

There was one major difference between the “yes” and the “no” scenarios.

The biggest difference? I should’ve known the “no” situation from the beginning. When I received the initial feedback, I was unsure, but I felt too guilty to walk away. I mean, an R&R is a rare opportunity, right? Shouldn’t you take advantage of every opportunity? That was my thinking, but that sort of thinking isn’t always right. Why? Because my heart was never in it, and readers can sense that. With the “yes” opportunity, I received feedback that just resonated.

The moment I read the note, I felt like the team understood the heart of the manuscript. In only a few lines, they directed me in a way that felt right. In fact, it felt better than right. It felt like the place my manuscript should’ve been in all along. Instead of the confusing dread I felt with the “no” scenario, I felt complete and total excitement with the eventual “yes” scenario. Now I feel a lot more confident about when to accept a R&R.

Here’s my step-by-step guide for writers who receive a R&R:

  1. Make a decision: Take a little break to truly ask yourself if the revision notes resonate with you—and your manuscript. Once you make a decision, ask yourself one more time. Make sure you’re not talking yourself into it for an opportunity that doesn’t actually work with your vision. This will save you—and the other party—a lot of time and energy. Don’t feel guilty if the notes don’t resonate. Do feel gratitude for receiving feedback anyway.
  2. Let the other party know. Either way, thank them for their feedback. If you decide to revise, ask the other party when they expect a return (if there is an expectation), and make a plan.
  3. Now sit down to write.

It might be your revisions. It might be your next manuscript. Just keep writing.

Either way, you’re on your writing path to success. Enjoy it.


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8 Responses to “Should You Revise & Resubmit?”

  1. Kim October 21, 2017 at 1:24 am #

    That is really helpful advice, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Shannon A Thompson October 21, 2017 at 2:33 am #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and commenting, Kim!

  2. josiesvoice October 21, 2017 at 2:35 am #

    Just think that some agents wouldn’t even care to give R & R and just leave you out in the cold as to what needs to be improved. I look R & R as constructive criticism. It’s not easy to take in but its part of the growing process IMO.

    • Shannon A Thompson October 21, 2017 at 3:07 am #

      I don’t fault agents (or anyone) for not giving out R&Rs or advice on all submissions. If they did that, it would take forever for writers and agents to connect with the right people. But yes, I definitely think R&Rs is part of the growing process. 🙂

      • josiesvoice October 21, 2017 at 10:17 am #

        True,true. Anyways, it’s always a learning process as we improve ourselves in our endeavors.

  3. MishaBurnett October 21, 2017 at 7:37 am #

    I have still never gotten any reply of any kind from an agent. In fact, I have no direct evidence that such a thing as an “agent” exists.

    In terms of publishers, I have gotten some extensive feedback from one book publisher that boiled down to them not liking my main character and wanting me to rewrite the book with a different protagonist. I ignored that. (But I declined their offer to R&R with a polite note.)

    Most of the short fiction that I have sold I revised to some extent to the publisher’s recommendations. In nearly every case where I have received a “We like this, but…” reply from a short fiction editor I have sold the revised story.


  1. Why You Should Make Time To Write While Editing/Revising | Shannon A Thompson - February 10, 2018

    […] want to miss out on an opportunity…which caused me to learn a hard lesson. See my past article: Should You Revise and Resubmit? I was spending every moment of my writing time revising. Meanwhile I was watching some of my […]

  2. My Experience Querying & Getting an Agent | Shannon A Thompson - July 6, 2019

    […] this book? Don’t revise just because someone is giving you the time of day with an R&R. (See article here: Should You Revise and Resubmit?) I butchered this book (and that’s me being kind). It’s so […]

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