View Full Version : Agent-Requested Revisions

04-24-2008, 01:13 PM
What's a good time frame, or is there one? When an agent asks for revisions is that something that should happen right away or is it a more "sometime in the future" sort of process? Is it a casual request or something more serious?

A little backstory: I finished my first novel in late 2006. I sent it to an agent who loved it but said it needed some changes before she could accept it. I made those changes but seeing as how I gave birth to twins 2 months later, those changes took about 12 months. I resubmitted and, though she loved what I had done said that it hadn't gone in the direction she was hoping (she's more commercial fiction this was distinctly literary). I then began submitting to agents again. I've had a lot of close calls, and while the reasons differ, there is a core similarity. One agent turned the Ms down with some really astute observations. She said she'd be glad to look at anything else I wrote and a revision of the novel if I agreed with her thoughts. I do.

Now, the novel is still out with other agents (2 fulls and 2 partials). Do I start working on the revisions now or wait until the others come in? I've got a new piece I've started, but I'm hesitant to dive too far into that world (cold war Germany [new] vs modern bourbon country, Kentucky) if I'm going to pull out in a month's time to make the revision changes.

The changes are pretty extreme; I have to break a whole lot of bones in order to set the right story. There's a lot to save, but a lot to do. And I have both a fulltime job, a country relocation, and three kids. I've submitted to about 40 agents so I do feel like I've cast a decent, targeted net.

Any thoughts from success stories? near misses? BTDT? Im looking for all the advice I can collect. Thanks!

Gary Clarke
04-24-2008, 02:09 PM
If you genuinely agree with the agent's thoughts, and you feel she'd be good for your career, then I suggest that you write/call back and ask her if she is serious in wanting to see the revised version and if she thinks she could market it. If she is and does, then give herself and yourself a strict time frame - ( say 'I'll have that for you in three or four months, ( or however long you think it will take to do the revisions). Then send it to her within that timeframe. Then get on with your new novel.

She will either take you on, or she won't. But you will never be in doubt that you did your best. In the meantime, the others have your original and you can see what happens with that :o)

Good luck, it sounds like you have something that's just on the cusp of making it.

( BTW I had to make a pretty massive change to my second novel. Like HUGE type massive :0) Not to mention cutting near to thirty thousand words. Though I cried silently into the phone when my agent made the requests, I just went ahead and got on with it. I haven't regretted it so far and it's a far more marketable piece for the requested changes)
Once again, good luck! Sounds like you're nearly there!

04-24-2008, 03:50 PM
well, actually, it's been about 2 yrs and you're talking a pretty extensive revision, yes? If I'm reading this right?

If I'm getting it right, just my opinion, but I wouldn't wait. It's like sometimes deciding to have children-the timing will never be perfect. I'd probably just write the extensive revisions, slap a new title on it and requery everyone all over again. I'd keep the original title on the one I'd send to the agent who said she'd look at revisions and send it to her. Then I'd go on to the next book while you're requerying.

But you do what's right for you and good luck on whatever you chose.

Gary Clarke
04-24-2008, 04:11 PM
I think this is a revision based on the latest send out of the ms. the previous revision was rejected because it didn't go in the direction the agent had invisioned ( she should have been more specific if you ask me!)

I think thats the way it stands LOL!

05-01-2008, 10:53 AM
Thanks all. Sorry to not respond earlier. I just started a new job and life has been crazy of late. And yes, Gary, that's right. This novel is being asked to be seen again--and teh request came in last month. Even with the suggested changes, it's still very much *this* novel. No new titles, I like the one I got :)

I guess what I'm asking is the following. I see people here mention all the time that "the agent asked for x y z changes. I did it and sent back. now we're on our way." How do you know when an agent is requesting changes and when h/she is suggesting changes? One feels like it's the agent saying "you need to do x y z for me to sell it" and the other is saying "this might be a better book if you try x y z. And, if you do, I'd be happy to look at it again." The former is more like a continuning conversation and the latter is a rejection with the door open to approach again. Or am I misreading it? And how do you know when it is one vs the other?

It's a relatively small difference but it makes all the difference in how I approach this. And seeing as the full Ms is still out with two other agents, do I work on those changes now or wait until I hear back from the outstanding agents (both of whom would be my dream agents)?

Thanks so much for all of your advice!

Gary Clarke
05-01-2008, 12:53 PM
Like I said, I think you should ring the agent and ask her to clarify her position re your ms. If she says she'd be interested in taking you on and thinks your ms would be marketable after the changes, then go ahead and do the change and re-sub. Meantime, the original ms will still be out with the others and so still on the market until you sign on with this agent.

Just my tuppence worth, though! Its up to you.

Good Luck!

05-01-2008, 05:09 PM
Even with the suggested changes, it's still very much *this* novel. No new titles, I like the one I got :)

Well, that's where I got confused. You said the changes would be pretty extreme, so. That's not so much the same to agents. Which is all you need to requery.

The deal is, if you revise the novel, particularly making extreme changes--all those agents who rejected it the first time? Over the two years? The ones you said did probably based on these issues? Well, if you make those extreme changes you can requery them all.

You need to change the title though usually to do so. Maybe, after two yrs you could try to keep it, but still, to be safe, I'd change it. And considering there's always the shot that if they sell your novel, a publisher will change it anyway (not 100% but still) I personally would think the chance to requery would outweigh changing the title. Particularly because if a requeried agent signed you, you could then lobby for the original title if you felt that strongly about keeping it.

But again, that's just what I would do. Revise, send it to that agent. Then requery the rest while I write the new book. I don't think I'd call to clarify with the agent. I'd revise as quick as I could and send it, saying here, I agreed with everything you said, revised my heart out, and want you to look at this. But that's just me. Good luck with whatever you choose.