I just got in a request for a revise and resubmit. The agent wants to set up a phone call to discuss the potential changes, which I'm all for. But in the letter they sent me, they said they had some significant issues with the manuscript, including not feeling connected to any of the characters, feeling like the characters all blended together and had no outstanding personality traits, that most of my plot was over done and convoluted, and then listed out for me the similarities they found between my manuscript and a very popular series in the genre. Is this typically how R&R letters go?
I've had beta testers read this, and the one problem I never had was anyone telling me they thought my characters blended together. Some of the agent's suggestions were quite helpful but others left me lost. I also noticed that in the agent's notes, there's a handful of times where they point out that I forgot to introduce something to the story before using it later, but every time they had pointed it out, I had actually introduced it previously in the story, sometimes only paragraphs before. They also spelled the name of one character incorrectly consistently through the letter. I feel both grateful for the time they've spent on my manuscript as well as confused. If they had a problem connecting to my characters and thought my plot was over done, is there really anything I can do for an R&R? I don't drink booze, should I start?
Did they mention anything they liked?
Every agent does revision requests differently. I tend to reject with some notes, and if the author asks to resubmit, sometimes take another look. Requests for resubmission are rare rare rare.
Other agents might request a lot of resubs.There's no right or wrong way here.
But what perplexes me is the lack of enthusiasm about anything. Generally if I'm thinking of reading something again, I'm pretty enthused about the ms and think there are one or two things that can be revised to the point of showing it around the office for beta reads.
An overdone and convoluted plot isn't something you can revise. It's start over again time.
Characters that blend together aren't fodder for revision. They're an indication that the writer needs more practice.
The real question here is what these guyz have in mind for you. My first suspicion is they are running some sort of editorial factory out the back door and have the idea that you'll "benefit" from their services for the low low price of one arm and one leg.
Generally an agent isn't going to request an R&R on something she thinks is a total mess unless there's at least some redeeming factor, which she would mention. A redeeming factor would be voice, memorable charactes, crackerjack plot, you are Oprah Winfrey's love child.
My guess is your manuscript is not a total mess because your question to me is concise, cogent and funny. Good writers write well even when they're penning letters to me and running on their Anxiety Wheel.
I suggest you see what they have to say. It's free to listen. Take notes. You might actually have a second listener on the call (muted) to take notes for you. Then you thank them for their time and consider what they have to say.
Just because an agent says something doesn't make it true.
This industry is as subjective about tastes and preferences as any other industry populated by people convinced they're the arbiters of all that is eyeball worthy.