An agent revision request before contract can be a tricky scenario. I touched on it briefly in my post that dealt with the types of query rejection a writer usually receives from an agent or an editor. Now I want to talk a bit more about requested revision before contract.
This is as close as you can get to having an agent offer representation. This is basically an agent saying “I will give you revision notes and work with you like I would a client, but I have a few reservations and don’t want to officially offer you representation yet.”
Agent Revision Request: Pros and Cons
On the one hand, an agent revision request is great. A Real, Live Publishing Professional believes in you. On the other hand, it can also be tricky. I always consider everything very carefully when I offer a Revision Rejection because there are a lot of things at stake. The writer could take my notes to heart, do a revision, send it back to me and it still wouldn’t be strong enough. That puts both me and the writer in a nasty situation. I feel bad and the writer gets their hopes up.
I try not to offer too many Revision Rejections because, if I care enough about a project and love it enough to spend all this time thinking about it, I will usually offer representation and revise after contract with a writer. A requested revision is if I do have some pretty substantial issues with the manuscript — a character, a plot point, a voice issue — but really think it could have great potential. The big thing I’m trying to figure out when I give this kind of rejection is whether or not an author can revise. Some authors will be great at revision, I can tell. Others, well, they get the Revision Rejection because I need to know for sure how well they tackle a revision before I sign them.
Requested Revision Without Contract: Proceed with Caution
However, I want to give writers everywhere a complete picture of this tricky issue. If you’re faced with an agent revision request, it’s not something you have to listen to. I’d suggest waiting until you get some similar feedback before ripping your manuscript apart. If, however, my requested revision notes hit home and really resonate with you, you can revise and you’ll come out of the situation with a better book, even if the revision doesn’t end up being strong enough for me to represent.
Always use caution when revising for someone without a contract. It’s your book and your vision. Don’t let any one person’s reaction or notes pressure you into changing your project too drastically unless you agree with them. Just because I’m a Real, Live Publishing Professional, it doesn’t mean I know your book better than you do. I know my taste, I know the publishing marketplace, I know editors, but you’re the expert on your own work.
So an agent revision request is really good news, it means you’re a breath away from even better news, but you always have to take it with a grain of salt.
Feeling unsure about your query letter, synopsis, or manuscript? Hire me as your freelance editor and we can work on your submission materials or dig deeper into your picture book, novel, or non-fiction proposal together.