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View Full Version : What kind of things could come from an R&R?



Channy
03-01-2015, 07:58 AM
So I'm coming down to the tail end of finishing my query (good God does it ever end?) and I hope to be submitting to agents in a couple weeks, but I've always wondered--and this is of course different depending on agent, book, client--what are typical requests with an R&R? I mean, we as writers go in with our heart on our sleeves, hoping the best for our little book and that it'll go published as is... but sometimes an agent doesn't agree. What's standard? How low or high can they go? "Change a character's name" to "chop out the last third of the book, it bores me"? What are typical R&R requests from an agent or examples that you've received as a writer?

Osulagh
03-01-2015, 08:17 AM
As with any critique: Anything. Depends on the book, the agent's view and wishes, and what you wish to change.

Sage
03-01-2015, 08:19 AM
An R&R is rarely going to be "Change a character's name." R&Rs are when an agent loves something about a book, but thinks it needs a major change to work, and either that change is so drastic that they'd never trust giving rep to the author without seeing it done first, or it's the thing that's keeping them from fully falling in love with/seeing the book as salable.

Agents will often ask for revisions after they offer rep, but these are usually revisions that they feel they can trust this author they haven't worked with yet to handle. Or possibly they are just so enthusiastic about the book that they will take the chance on the author, despite major revision needs.

As for examples of big revision suggestions or requests, I've had agents/publishers ask me to change the POV character for the full book to a different character, to cut the main LI and change to the secondary one, to change age categories, to cut 20K from a tight book, to add 50K to a book (which was admittedly short), to change the MC's motivations and therefore everything that happens in the first 3rd of the book... I've also had vague requests from definite R&Rs, such as the voice isn't working or the pacing needs to be fixed, without details given about what that agent was actually looking for.

Plan that your book will not be published as-is unless you self-publish. It is rare these days to find agents and publishers who don't ask for changes. Don't go in with that hope that it will be published as-is.

Treehouseman
03-01-2015, 11:13 AM
I've had an Agent ask that the first person narrative change to first, a huge job which never eventuated in her signing me up.

Another didn't like the way the book went in the final 20K. She was right about that one.

Becca C.
03-01-2015, 12:50 PM
I once did an R&R on a very short book (45k) where there was a bit of specific feedback, but it was mostly "go deeper." More emotion, more from a certain character's POV, etc. She told me to go deeper and aim to make it 60-65k. I did. The book was way better. She didn't end up offering rep though.

Fuchsia Groan
03-01-2015, 01:01 PM
I've had requests to add certain kinds of scenes, to tighten the pace, to make characters more clearly motivated and sympathetic (sometimes I wonder if I'll EVER get that one down), and to make characters less snarky.

It's important to know what your "deal breakers" are and not do an R&R if the agent's vision really doesn't match yours. Be flexible, but know your limits. Asking questions helps, too, if you don't understand why they're asking for a certain change.

Putputt
03-01-2015, 02:49 PM
I was asked to clarify my worldbuilding, because the society didn't make much sense. The agent also pointed out that the later half of the book was too hurried and suggested cutting that and expanding on the first half. Those changes took me half a year to make. It didn't result in an offer from that agent, but it improved the book enough to get an offer from a different agent.

Keep in mind that it's quite rare to get an R&R. There was a recent blog post by an agent who shared her end of year statistics and she only gave 1 R&R in that entire year. The agent I'm interning for gave 2 R&Rs in about 10 months, out of about 30 MSs read (he offered on 3).

Katrina S. Forest
03-01-2015, 03:50 PM
I had a couple different R&Rs on the same book. One wanted a romance developed between two characters who were just friends in the original. Another said a certain character's motivations made no sense and needed to be better developed.

Neither one ended in an offer of rep, but a better book, I think. (Although the romance I could've taken or left. I like that it now exists in the book, but if I were to ever self-publish it, I would probably reduce its importance in the overall plot.)

Jamesaritchie
03-01-2015, 07:12 PM
I don't get an R&R from an agent. To me, that's not her job, and she isn't qualified to ask for changes. But I assume an R&R is the same as it is from an editor, and it can be anything from cutting a given number of words, to changing the ending, to darned near rewriting the entire novel from scratch.

There's no point at all in worrying about it until it happens.

Neegh
03-01-2015, 08:07 PM
[QUOTE=Jamesaritchie;9322730]I don't get an R&R from an agent. To me, that's not her job, and she isn't qualified to ask for changes. QUOTE]

An agent knows what the publishers that he/she are in negotiations with are looking for, so they may what to tweak MSs to better match.

lizmonster
03-01-2015, 08:38 PM
I combined two books into one. It took me about seven months, and I did get representation out of it.

And if you'd asked me before I started querying if I'd be willing to do something like that, I'd have said no. :) So I'd say love your MS, know which parts mean most to you, and roll with whatever requests you get. You do not ever have to say yes to an R&R, but IME it never hurts to listen to suggestions from people who know what sells.

Lena Hillbrand
03-02-2015, 01:35 AM
I had an R&R. I considered it a compliment and a test. I thought the agent liked the book but not quite enough, and she was giving me a chance to impress her and see if we worked well together.

She wanted more external conflict, and since I agreed that would make it stronger, I went ahead with the R&R. But you don't have to if you don't agree with the suggestions. The first thing I did was ask for clarifications, and the agent offered suggestions for changes. I didn't like what she suggested, so I made a counter suggestion, and she was fine with it. My biggest advice is just to talk to the agent, figure out if you are both okay with the changes. It's your book, so don't do anything that changes your vision for the work.

mayqueen
03-02-2015, 06:03 PM
I did two R&Rs for one agent. The first pass significantly altered the plot to widen the scope of the stakes. The second pass layered in more of the elements of magical realism. At the end, the agent didn't like it, and I trunked the MS. (I've since revised it once again -- total rewrite -- and am now querying it.)

I did another R&R that I never ended up sending back because reasons. The agent asked for a more commercial plot (turning the character-centered conflict into more external conflict). That one was really painful to do because I didn't think it fit the vision of my MS. In the end, I really liked what I did, and I'm hoping that I'll have the chance to try it out on small presses or something.

I would say that thinking a book is going to be published 100% as-is might set you up for frustration. On the other hand, if you're asked for revisions that don't resonate with your vision, don't do them. It's your story.

Aggy B.
03-02-2015, 09:40 PM
I had an agent ask for more explanation of how the magic worked, more romance plot and additional physical description of the "love interest", and directions to make the main character more likeable, and some other world-building stuff. I was also asked to change the voice of the story, which was something I disagreed with and didn't do.

In the end, that R&R turned into an ugly rejection which also revealed some stark clashes in vision for the story. (It was okay because I promptly found an agent who didn't feel the need to soften my MC into something more "likeable and attractive". He did want even more world-building and depth in some of the subplots, though.)

So. The takeaway is to go with your gut and make the changes you agree with, but be aware that some agents will want you to do everything they ask or it will be a "No, thanks." (My current agent gives suggestions - which frequently boil down to "How do we get more of this element into the story because it's fantastic", then I throw it all in a blender and revise according to what I agree with. We repeat as necessary until we are both happy with the MS, but at no point does he insist I do things exactly how he sees it.)

Best of luck with your querying! :)

WeaselFire
03-04-2015, 08:00 PM
I mean, we as writers go in with our heart on our sleeves, hoping the best for our little book and that it'll go published as is...

Get over it. Your book will NEVER be published as is. Fact of life is that you can never write the book so perfect that it will simply fly to the press and sell millions. If you desperately need your book to be published as is, self-publish and realize it will pretty much suck.

An R&R can be anything, for any reason and it's your choice whether or not to do any of the suggested changes. I've never met an agent who would ask for a R&R for a book that held no promise. I don't think I've ever met a published author that has refused an R&R, or multiple R&Rs and had their book traditionally published.

Hope it helps.

Jeff

Jo Zebedee
03-06-2015, 08:04 PM
I don't get an R&R from an agent. To me, that's not her job, and she isn't qualified to ask for changes. But I assume an R&R is the same as it is from an editor, and it can be anything from cutting a given number of words, to changing the ending, to darned near rewriting the entire novel from scratch.

There's no point at all in worrying about it until it happens.

I didn't think I'd say this, but actually I think this, to an extent, is true. I chased my dream agent, did the R and R, changed the book and it turned out the market wanted something closer to the book I'd started with.

We can get our heads turned in the search for an agent. We can see interest and bend over backwards. I can't see me ever doing an extensive R and R to get an agent again. I'm happy to make changes, of course, to edit and revise, to make something stronger if needed. But not anything major, that changes structure or theme. But I'm getting more confident as a writer. I'm getting enough feedback to say I'm getting more right than wrong. I can wait for the right person to come along (ha! I have so much on, it's best to wait, maybe...) and that person needs to support what I'm trying to write, not just like my writing enough to want to sign me.