About six months ago, I received a Revise and Resubmit editorial letter from an agent. As I'm still revising per her (insightful) notes, I'm worried that my window of opportunity is closing.
How much time is too much time to turn around an R&R? Should I email this agent and give her an update or just resubmit when I'm confident my MS is ready?
Most likely, she's not worrying about you. Revise and resubs are almost always (and should be!) a many months long process. I've had R&Rs take a year or more.
I keep track of the writers I've asked for an R&R and try to check in with them at the end of the calendar year, mostly just to make sure they're alive and kicking and they know I am too. With the advent of social media of course, that's less necessary than it was some years back.
It's not rude to drop her a VERY short note saying pretty much what you've said here "I'm still revising per your insightful notes and looking forward to getting you something (insert number of months/days/decades here.)
On the other hand, it's not rude to just keep working and resubmit when you're ready.
Do NOT worry that your window of opportunity is closing and try to rush things. Rushed manuscripts are often rejected manuscripts and that's not what either of you are aiming for.
There are no rules on how long is too long on an R&R. Every ms is different and every writer works at their own pace.
The one thing I can tell you is that when writers send back revisions in a week it's most likely too soon.
One element of the R&R that is often skipped is the lying fallow period. I know I've harped on this before but it's essential: let you manuscript sit for at least a month after you think it's done. Go back in four weeks. You'll be amazed what you find.
I know this is true because the blog posts I work on for a week are hands down better than the ones I slap up in a day.
And recently blog reader Lucie Witt reminded us of the value of reading your work aloud:
Janet and many of the Reiders have long advocated for reading your work out loud to catch mistakes. My desk drawer books have either been shelved before I'm at that point or I just didn't think reading it out loud was necessary.
I'm now a convert.
I'm reading my R&R out loud before resubmitting it and I cannot believe how many typos I'm catching. I'm also finding the grammar mistakes I frequently make (comma splices, I hate you) jump out when I'm reading out loud.
Best of all is how it makes you hear your characters' voices. I'm fixing sentences that were fine as they were but sing with a small tweak. Sometimes that means purposefully disregarding the rules of grammar, like the Stringer Bell quotes here. [this is a comment from Thursday's post]
Anyways, if grammar and voice worry you, read your WIP out loud. I'm mad I waited so long to take that advice.