View Full Version : Reader Report and Revisions

11-03-2012, 12:56 AM
I'm pretty sure I'm right about this, but I want to be absolutely sure that my hope isn't misfiring. You all know how fleeting hope can be in this business; we take what we can to keep going, despite rejection after rejection after...

But this time I think I might actually have a real reason to get at least a *little* excited?

So, here's the deal: I got a referral from a writer friend to a major agent at a major agency. This agency doesn't even take queries over email unsolicited, so when my friend told me his agent said to send him my entire manuscript via email without so much as a "hi" from me (after talking to my friend about me, of course), I was pretty stoked. I sent the manuscript with a VERY short cover letter, half-written by my friend who has had this agent for 17 years, and waited... VERY impatiently... for an answer.

I got it, two months later. (Which, to any writer who's been in this business for even a small amount of time knows is like, SECONDS in agent-time.) The agent said this:

"Thank you for the opportunity to take a look at your manuscript. You clearly have skill and a love of the craft, but this seems to need a fair amount of work yet. One of our readers has written up a report, attached here, that I feel hits on many of the points that need to be addressed. Unfortunately we simply haven’t the staff to work on this further but if these ideas interest you and you’d like to recast it, we’d be happy to look at a revision in the future. Please keep in mind that ours are only the opinions of one office, and other agents may feel differently."

So, I took that as a good sign, overall. Not an acceptance, but not a rejection either. He did, indeed, attach a reader report to the email, which I have read, studied, and highlighted to death. The reader report says, among other things, that my story is "...pretty terrific", and describes it as "... The Lost Boys meets Lord of the Flies meets The Wizard of Oz in a steampunk apocalypse" (exact words). The issue they had was mainly in the end, with it being far too confusing with too many strings left untied. Understandable.

And so I revised it, based on both the reader response and my own previous intuitions (which matched the reader's issues almost perfectly; I have to learn to trust that one of these days), and sent it back on October 4th.

I know... I'm not expecting an answer any time soon. I've been in this profession WAY too long to expect that! LOL That said, my question for agents on here is: how often do you send reader reports to writers? Do you do it only when you're very interested in a manuscript but it needs more work than you can handle at the time, or is it a regular thing for manuscripts you MIGHT take but aren't even close to sure of yet?

I guess what I'm saying is... is my excitement about this based on any kind of solid foundation? Should I allow myself a little "whoohoo" here? Even a tiny one?


Siri Kirpal
11-03-2012, 01:39 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Joy is permissible no matter what the circumstances.

That said, I've never received such a thing. I've received a few extra wonderful rejections, but nothing like that. And I've been doing this some years.


Siri Kirpal

11-03-2012, 02:41 AM
Thanks Siri. I'd never gotten anything like it before either. Of course, I'd never gotten a referral, either, so there's that. This is ALL new to me which, after two decades of writing, is kind of (REALLY) exciting!

11-03-2012, 03:03 AM
I'm just a humble querying would-be novelist here, but I think your mileage on R&Rs varies. I'm working on my second R&R right now. I didn't get a reader report for the first one, so I have no idea what that looks like.

Anyway, yes, you should be excited and proud! You got an agent interested enough in your work to spend valuable, unpaid time giving you feedback and then to want to look at it again. That's fantastic. However, don't start writing the author's note where you thank this person for being your fantastic amazing agent yet. There are three likely outcomes:

1) Rejection: Rejection on an R&R stings. I can't say how often it happens, but from browsing these fora, it seems like it's not infrequent.
2) R&R the Second: This also happens. I can't say how much. I'm in this camp at this exact moment.
3) Offer of Representation: HUZZAH!

Again, I have *no* idea how often each of these encounters happens. But I would say be cautiously excited. And make a plan for what to do if you don't get the outcome you want. This is the advice I got in the lead-up to publishing my first academic article (which took two R&Rs). I'm personally of the opinion that you should have the next places you plan to submit picked out just in case.

Anyway, those are just my opinions. Congratulations on the R&R and on the referral. :) I hope it works out! It sounds like a really neat story, from the quoted reader's report.

Mr. Anonymous
11-03-2012, 04:34 AM
Reader reports are often done by interns, or agents-in-training. If an agent really trusts his reader, he may not even read a manuscript unless the reader recommends he does. I imagine there are different types of reader reports. Some readers reports are intended only for the agent's eyes. Other reader reports are intended to be shared with the author. I interned with an agent who shared all my reader reports with the authors. That said, if the reader report says they'd be willing to take another look, then that's always a great sign.

11-03-2012, 05:19 AM
Thank you both. mayqueen, I am keenly aware that I could still be rejected. That's what keeps me up at night. Literally. And I'm trying not to obsess over this. I know that if I let myself get too excited, if he ends up rejecting me, I'll be devastated. I don't want that, my schoolwork can't take that, and my kids and husband don't deserve that. Still, no matter what, I know it will hurt like bejesus if he does reject me, so I'm allowing myself a LITTLE joy for now, to make up for it, if need-be, later.

Mr. Anonymous, thank you for that intel. I suppose I could just ask my friend how his agent does it specifically. He did say that his agent wanting me to revise is a good thing, so there's that...

11-03-2012, 05:19 AM
I see no negatives or reason not to feel good.

The way I see it, even if it does not go anywhere the second time, you still got a detailed critique from someone who is considered a professional, even if the reader is an intern. Not many of us get that type of response...

Bravo and wishing you success...

11-03-2012, 05:24 AM
Thank you thoth! At the moment, I'm skimming on these good vibes...