If you’re querying agents or submitting to publishers, you’ve probably heard of an “R&R,” aka a revise-and-resubmit (or revise-and-resend). But as an editor, I’m sometimes surprised by how few authors actually resubmit a revised manuscript after my colleagues or I offer them revision notes. I suspect that many writers either don’t know what it means or don’t know if they should revise. It isn’t always the right path for everyone to take, but often it is worth it. I signed with my agent after completing an R&R, so obviously I believe that they can be incredibly beneficial for writers.
So what is an R&R? Typically, it means that the agent/editor saw potential in your work, but felt that it needs significant revisions in one or more areas. They will offer revision suggestions and invite you to resubmit the work after revision. Some writers see this as discouraging—it is, after all, a rejection. R&Rs are sometimes referred to as “The Slow No,” meaning that writers will go through all the work of a revision only to have the work rejected a second time. And while that certainly can happen, it’s also possible that the R&R could lead to an offer. Agents/editors spend a lot of time writing R&R letters and offering extensive revision notes; we wouldn’t do that if we didn’t see something we love in the book. Instead of thinking of the R&R as a rejection, think of it as an opportunity. Whether or not you should take advantage of that opportunity depends on a number of factors.
So, if you receive an R&R, it’s something you should consider carefully. By this point in the process, you’ve probably revised your manuscript dozens of times, and the mere idea of doing so again is exhausting (or at least it was for me). But the R&R could also be the opportunity that leads to an agent/book deal (as it was for me). If you’re unsure about pursuing it, consider the following questions:
- Do you agree with their suggestions?
For me, this is the biggest factor in deciding whether or not to revise. If you disagree with the suggestions for the manuscript, then there’s no point in revising, as the agent/editor clearly isn’t the right fit for you. But if you agree with their notes, then the R&R is definitely worth considering. For me, I agreed so strongly with the agent’s suggestions that I wanted to revise regardless of whether or not the agent signed me, because I knew those changes would make my book better.
Either way, I would advise waiting at least a week to think about the suggestions before you make any changes. You might be resistant to critique at first, or you might be so eager to jump in that you rush the changes. Take your time and mull the notes over carefully before you make your decision.
- Do you like this agent/editor and want to work with them?
Have you researched this agent/editor/publisher? Do they have a good reputation? Are they part of a well-respected agency/publisher? Are you comfortable speaking with and working with this agent/editor? All of these things are important. Hopefully you did some research before you queried, but having additional communication from the agent/editor will give you a better understanding of their communication style.
- Do you still love this manuscript?
Do you still believe in your manuscript enough to make it stronger? Keep in mind that this won’t be your last round of revisions. If you sign with an agent, you’ll probably have to do at least one more round before going on submission, and you might get another R&R while on submission. If you get a book deal, you’ll have to do many more rounds of revision with your editor. If you still love your manuscript enough to put in this much work, then an R&R could be worth it. But if you don’t feel strongly about it anymore, it might be time to move on to the next project.
- Are you willing to put in this much work and still get rejected?
Although an R&R can lead to an offer, it’s important to be prepared for a less positive response. You might put in all that work and still get a rejection, or even another R&R. Personally, I decided that the R&R would be worth it regardless of the agent’s response, because I knew it would make my manuscript stronger. But you have to be aware of the risk and willing to take it.
If you answered no to any of these questions, then the R&R may not be worth it for you. But if you answered yes to all of them, then it could be a great opportunity.
Finally, if you decide to do the revisions, take your time! You don’t have to return the manuscript to the agent/editor right away, and they don’t expect you to. This is probably your last chance with this agent or editor, so it’s important that you don’t rush it. Carefully read and re-read their suggestions. Consult with a critique partner or beta reader. It took me more than six months to complete my R&R—much more time than I’d spent on the first draft! But in the end, that time was more than worth it.
Regardless of whether you decide to pursue the R&R, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Not many writers receive this response, and it suggests that your manuscript has incredible potential. Be proud of the novel that you’ve written and the hard work that got you there!
Have you ever done an R&R? Would you consider one? What factors would be important for you? Let me know in the comments!
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This post is part of my Submission Tips series. For more info about submitting your work to publishers and agents, check out the other posts in the series here, and follow the blog to see future posts.