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Nightd
02-13-2012, 02:53 PM
I am curious. What kind of revisions does an Agent ask of a writer?

I recently read a blog where a first time writer got signed with a big time agent. A full was requested on same day as query. Phone call of offer of representation was presented in 3 weeks, but if the writer made some MAJOR revisions. She would also have to work with an independent editor to revise the manuscript before the agent submits it to publishers.

I assume the editor is mostly for grammar issues (tense, misplaced punctuation, copyediting stuff)

I'm curious to know if anyone had any experience with their manuscript, what a "major revision" from an agent would be? Anything specific?

Cyia
02-13-2012, 03:47 PM
Revisions can mean anything from cutting scenes/characters, changing the ending, combining similar characters, adding material, etc.

Recommendation of an independent editor is a bit disturbing, IMO. You'd want to make sure this editor had absolutely no ties to the agent in question to avoid a conflict of interest situation.

Old Hack
02-13-2012, 04:23 PM
I agree with the comment about a potential conflict of interests if an agent is recommending a particular editor: however, if the difference is "work with an editor or I won't represent you, and here's an editor I know who could work well with you" or "nope", I can imagine writers thinking carefully about the editing option.

So long as there's no conflict of interests it's worth considering.

Moving on to the "what sort of revisions" question: you could be asked to do anything. Improve your grammar and punctuation, restructure the whole book, get rid of extraneous characters and unresolved plot points, cut the book by 15%, slice off the first three chapters, develop a character more fully, intensify relationships... anything. It all depends on your book.

And if you disagree with the agent's opinion, you don't have to change a single thing.

Momento Mori
02-13-2012, 06:46 PM
tonten:
I'm curious to know if anyone had any experience with their manuscript, what a "major revision" from an agent would be? Anything specific?

I'm with a big London YA agent and for me the major revision has been to completely rework the ending to my manuscript and slash 15k from the word count - a process that I'm only now close to finishing after 2 years (mainly because I've had to make more changes each time and rework how we see it working as a series).

The good part of it is that the manuscript is a lot stronger now than it was originally and it's very tightly written (even if I do say so myself) so it's a better prospect when it goes out on submission. The bad news is that the revisions process was soul destroying.

What matters is whether the author and agent share a vision about what the book is and how the story should be told. Without a shared vision, the revisions process at agenting stage doesn't really seem to work.

MM

Stellan
02-13-2012, 07:02 PM
I was asked to widen the scope of the plot a bit and expand on some worldbuilding aspects; this ended up adding about 15K to the novel over two major revisions and a few minor tweaks.

However, I was never asked to let a third party look things over, and the process felt a lot more like having an insightful beta reader than being told CHANGE THIS OR ELSE.

Jamesaritchie
02-13-2012, 09:18 PM
An agent can ask for nothing or anything, but working with an independent editor is just nuts. I'd run away very fast.

And how much or how little you follow and agent suggestions is always up to you.

I've never allowed an agent to make any suggestions. To me, that's the editor's job, and damned if I'm going to change things twice, which is what often happens when you take suggestions from anyone except an editor.

suki
02-13-2012, 09:54 PM
Some agents are editorial, and may suggest extensive revisions.

Some agents are not editorial, and may suggest only minor revisions, if any.

Some agents are spaghetti agents, and will accept a large number of clients, do minimal revisions, and toss the manuscripts out into the world to see what "sticks."

I personally wouldn't feel comfortable being required to work with an independent editor - and, frankly, I probably wouldn't even be comfortable with the suggestion.

You should ask any prospective agent about how they see their role regarding revisions, and what specific revisions they would likely request on your specific manurscript, and decline representation from any agent whose approach or specific revisions doesn't mesh well with your comfort levels and expectations.

Few agents, if any, would be a good fit for everyone. And it's perfectly fine for me to be a good fit with one kind of agent, and another writer to be a good fit with another type of agent.

Ask questions, think critically, do your research. Then make the decision that is best for you.

~suki

BethS
02-14-2012, 02:47 AM
I am curious. What kind of revisions does an Agent ask of a writer?

I recently read a blog where a first time writer got signed with a big time agent. A full was requested on same day as query. Phone call of offer of representation was presented in 3 weeks, but if the writer made some MAJOR revisions. She would also have to work with an independent editor to revise the manuscript before the agent submits it to publishers.

I assume the editor is mostly for grammar issues (tense, misplaced punctuation, copyediting stuff)

I'm curious to know if anyone had any experience with their manuscript, what a "major revision" from an agent would be? Anything specific?

Some agents work with authors on revisions; some don't. And the editor will have his or her own revision suggestions, and they'll likely involve far more than grammar issues.

I agree with the concerns about the agent requesting the writer work with an independent editor. Asking for revisions is one thing, but it should be the writer's choice how best to handle that.

OohLaLaura
02-24-2012, 09:17 PM
Is that a pretty unsual request?
An agent asking you to work with an independent editor, I mean.

nadja1972
02-24-2012, 09:43 PM
I hope it's okay for me to include this link here:

http://www.stephanieknipper.blogspot.com/2012/02/revision-update.html

It's to a blog post about exactly this situation, and I'm pretty sure that if most of us were offered representation by this particular agent, we'd be willing to work with an independent editor. The writer is actually really lucky that the agent was willing to offer representation when such a drastic rewrite was needed. These days most agents would just pass or ask for a revise & resubmit. That's my take on it - you can read the blog and decide for yourselves.

Katrina S. Forest
02-24-2012, 09:52 PM
I've been asked by three different agents who read my full to revise and resubmit. None of them told me I had to use an independent editor. Among the various recommendations were:

1) Cutting down on exposition.
2) Shortening the ticking clock to make the protagonist's need more urgent.
3) Re-thinking a character whose motivations seemed mixed.

Now, in all these cases, I wasn't offered representation, only an invitation to resubmit when the changes were complete. I would only work with an independent editor if I really knew the agent was solid, that they had nothing financially to gain from recommending this editor, and that I was actually being offered representation, not just an invitation to submit again.