Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Notifiying agents of revisions

Should authors inform agents with whom they have outstanding full requests about significant revisions since submission? Or is that considered too disruptive/best to let them complete the evaluation of the original submission? Similarly, if authors happen to receive a full request while executing revisions, is it okay to ask the agent if they can hold off on submitting until the revisions are complete (assuming a reasonable timeframe/no more than a few weeks)?

I don't think there's an industry standard on this.

Without that kind of benchmark, the way to assess* this is to remember:

agents want to see your best work.

That IS an industry standard!


So, if you've done significant revisions, yes, drop an email to those agents who have outstanding requested fulls and tell them.


ATTACH (or include however they had you send the original request) the revised ms.

That way all I have to do is say "got this, thanks."

Now, there are several things you can do to shoot yourself in the foot here.

The first big one is to do this more than once.


Significant means significant. 

If you're fixing typos, that's not significant to most agents. If you sent this without running spell check, yes, I'll notice. But fixing it isn't going to help you much. I'll still know you did it.


And sending three, five or seven versions?

All that does is tell me you can't asses your own writing very well.

NOT something I want to see.


Another thing that you don't want to do is write to ask.

Just send.


If I have to read your email, then reply, then get the new email, that's just a lot of work you could have bypassed by sending the ms the first time.



And yes, if you're revising when I request the full, it's ok to say so.

Remember: I want to read your best work.


And even though Twitter is a vile cesspool these days, it's a good way to keep an eye on what agents are kvetching about. (Although I've stopped talking about anything substantive on Twitter since it's an invitation to be vilified.)


An agent who says "yeesh, don't bother me with revisions" is NOT the agent you want to send revisions to.  


Just keep track of those kinds of things as best you can.


If you want to start your list with things I kvetch about:

1. misuse of lie/lay 

2. incorrect use of its/it's


3. homophones and homonyms

4. shadowy billionaires


5. buxom blond physicists

6. effusive compliments. I do not walk on water. I swim in it.    


7. grammatically correct, full sentence lines of dialogue.

(Have you listened to how people yammer?)


Things I don't give a rat's patootie about:

1. getting my name right

2. getting your category right


3. comps

4. what my dear grandmama might call "locker room language" and what I call "how I talk"


5. your credentials

6. who you know


7. what your independent editor said

8. what your crit group said



Any questions?

*yes, it was spelled wrong for a while.


mhleader said...

Oh, Queen of Sharkdom, I just want to say THANK you for posting more regularly. I have missed your nuggets of wisdom these oh, so many months. I learn tons from you with every post, even if (especially if) it's a topic I thought I understood! And I have referred so many of my writer friends to your various sites, especially Query Shark. Welcome back! I'm prepping a huge bucket of whiskey marinated chum for you!!!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Ok. So I got a full request with a workshop where an agent fell in love with my first chapter. We did some revisions on what I had at the time, and she compared me to Patrick Rothfuss. I swooned. I had told agent from the very start that I had no where near a full book to give. I really just wanted to make sure the book started strong as that had been a problem in the past, and I was depressed and wanted to make myself write again.

How long do I have? I am so scared she will forget how much she loved that first part by the time I finish, and it is taking me a while to get to my best work for the whole thing. It's fantasy. Revisions take a long time and I am not going to send something that feels early draft anywhere in the manuscript. I told her August at earliest but it would probably be October. Now, I am kind of feeling December before I am really done.

From this post, my take away is that if it takes until December to get my best work, then it takes until December and I wait. If it takes until 2022 (I hope not), then that's when I send. I have an email to respond to that I think will remind her of how much she loved the opening so there is that.

Colin Smith said...

I would say that any serious agent wouldn't give a rat's behind about those same things. And if you're an agent who would turn down an awesome query/submission because of a misspelled name, a wrong category, or the lack of comps, then maybe you should consider becoming a high school English teacher...? But that would come across as kinda rude and judgey, and besides, it's not for me to say. So while I said it, I'm not saying it... or am I...?? 😉

Elise: My 2c for what it's worth is that you should respond to the email (obviously), and let her know when you expect to be done. BUT don't imagine the agent is twiddling her thumbs waiting on your ms. If I know anything about agents, she's got plenty to keep her occupied while you craft the best ms you can. Sure, your novel may not be front-burner for her right now, but when it does show up in her inbox and she reads that first chapter, I'm sure all those feels will come flooding back, and she'll be mighty glad she asked you for a full all those years ago. 😁 Congrats and all the best to you, btw!!

Katja said...

Oh yes, questions:

What is "kvetch"??? Translation tool has no idea either. I do know Quatsch in German and it basically means "nonsense". 🤔

So I take it you DON'T want full sentences and correct grammar in dialogue?! Phew.

My FORMER critique group would just say "sets the scene nicely", so nope, I wouldn't tell you that.

Also, I hope I won't ever get into the situation of having to send a revised manuscript. Hopefully I can avoid it completely.

Amy Johnson said...

Hooray -- a post three days in a row! Thanks, Janet! I would have added a final "s" to make the word "assess," but after it showed up a second time in your response, I figured it's intentional humor or a spell-check thing. If it's humor, it worked on me. (Whenever I come across the singular in the hymnal during church, I have to fight to not giggle. "Bosom" is even harder to deal with in the hymnal. Yes, I know -- I'm a horrible human being. And after reading today's post, I now have a story swirling in my brain about a shadowy billionaire who is a buxom blond physicist.)

Kitty said...

Katja, kvetch as a noun means a complainer. Kvetch as a verb means to complain. It's a Yiddish word.

QUESTION: Is that bear praying?

NLiu said...

I have nothing useful to add to this conversation and solely want to shout HURRAH FOR THE SHARK! I have also missed the daily posts enormously. There are a bazillion blogs about writing/publishing in existence, and most of them are repeating tired and basic "advice" from people with little experience or success to back it up. But this blog is a gold mine, every time. Plus, the other denizens are excellent company. Need I say more?

Also, to back up Janet in her physicist kvetch: I have known quite a few physicists. Some were buxom, some blonde, and many were beautiful. But none were all of the above, even our relativity lecturer (he was buxom and bald if I recall correctly). There is a theory in there somewhere.

And Amy Johnson! I want to email you but you don't have any contact details on Blogger! :'(

Colin Smith said...


REMINDER: If you would like fellow Reefers to find your blog/social media or contact you, we have a list of Carkoon's Most Wanted. Send me your details (my address is on the list) and I'll add you. If you're on the list and either want to be removed or your info has changed, also let me know.


Craig F said...

Ruh, roh, I have a forensic accountant in a book who put herself through school on a beach volleyball circuit.

If I had multiple fulls out; I would, after the party, start working a a sequel, or next book.

If I go an R&R, I would work on that. I would do that in a separate file, so I don't corrupt the original, mainly because I like what I write and hold out hope eternal.

Craig F said...

Oh, that forensic accountant is a brunette. She hails from Fargo Georgia, so he drawl is even more pronounced than mine, y'all.

KDJames said...

I don't have any questions or anything helpful to add (I realize no one is surprised by this). I just wanted to say I'm reading along ["Here!"], a bit battered by life but not dead yet. I've missed hearing your voice more regularly, Janet, and appreciate the increased blog activity. I've also missed hearing from the various other Reefers. Good to know you're all doing well. Um, as well as writers ever are. That's all. Carry on.