Friday, August 03, 2012

Friday Night at the Question Emporium

I'd like to know about revise/resubmit etiquette.  

Say a writer has received extensive notes from an agent and her reader.  This agent would be her first choice, so writer is working her bum off to rewrite.  Now the tricky bit:  IF the agent decides to pass on rewrite, author does what?  Resubmit to other agents who sent personalized rejections on partials?  And what should be said?  "This MS is totally rewritten based on notes from superstar agent who now has rejected it" doesn't sound too positive.

I've heard some writers say they start resubmitting to all agents at the same time, including agent who gave notes.  This sounds kind of below-board.

There's planning ahead, and then there's worrying ahead.  You're worrying ahead here. However, I'm glad to help you torment yourself into a tizzy so here's the answer:

You do NOT reference any rewrites done for an agent, or at the agent's suggestion.  You are not being sneaky or underhanded when you do so.  I (and my ilk) assume you've gotten LOTS of critical feedback on your novel by the time we see it.  We don't need to know from whom. In fact, we like to pretend it sprang fully formed from your fingertips onto the page and you can write another one just like it tomorrow. 

There is no First Class and Coach distinction on resubmits. There's not even a boarding group priority number. Send it to the agents you want to represent you. In any order you want. You owe agents nothing at this point but the best work you can offer.


Anonymous said...

This is why it's a good idea to do your submissions in batches of half a dozen. Once you've done a big rewrite and are ready to resubmit, you don't want to have already burned through your list of desirable agents.

Tom M Franklin said...

I spent six months with Agent #2, revising and resubmitting. When she finally passed, I went to Agent #3 who had expressed interest but understood that I was working with another agent. There was no awkwardness in the transition. Agent #3 knew what was happening and was likely happy that someone else had helped the MS along before she got to it.

btw, Jane, thanks for these postings. you're giving hope and solid advice to those of us still struggling to find the right agent. (I only wish I had something you'd represent to send to you.)


Anonymous said...

Well, that's clear. I was going to ask about "wait; didn't agent already pay reader to write notes, etc." but then realized writer has been working as well. Writer is just as worthy.

You're v. cool.

Anonymous said...

If I might ask a related question - if an agent has offered to read again upon revision, just how long is 'too long' to resubmit? If/when I do resubmit, should I explain why it took so long? Almost two years - long story but essentially due to a concussion that took some time to 'bounce back from'. Though there was no bouncing, just a heck of a lot of frustration.