Sending revised manuscript to agents still considering?

darkangel77

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Hi AWers,

What’s the etiquette on asking agents to consider a revised full when you haven’t heard back yet? Does this ever turn out well?

Some background: I had two full requests back in November 2022, and sent them what I believed at the time to be a polished manuscript. They asked for first 20 pages and first 3 chapters to be submitted with the sub package.

I’ve had a handful of other requests since then, which have come back as rejections with some feedback. There were no R&Rs, but I’ve since sent my MS off to new beta readers and professional editors, who have pointed out several areas I can strengthen, which resonates with me, and addressed some of those rejecting agents’ specific concerns. I’ve also made major structural changes to the first 1/3 of the manuscript, and overall believe it to be much stronger now.

Those two agents seem like they’d be lovely to work with, but I don’t want to annoy them if they’ve already started reading and give them a reason to reject. Or should I just leave it alone since I sent pages with my sub package?

Appreciate any advice you all have. TIA!
 

Woollybear

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I once left a note through query manager asking and the agent said "sure send the revised manuscript" but it was still a pass in the end.
 

Mutive

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What’s the etiquette on asking agents to consider a revised full when you haven’t heard back yet? Does this ever turn out well?

I mean, I'm sure it sometimes turns out well. Considering how many people have undoubtedly submitted a revised manuscript at some point in history, I'm sure at least a few have gone on to have their books published.

Those two agents seem like they’d be lovely to work with, but I don’t want to annoy them if they’ve already started reading and give them a reason to reject. Or should I just leave it alone since I sent pages with my sub package?

To me, this is a challenge. Precisely because, as you note, you really don't want to annoy an agent or seem unprofessional. (Both of which, I think, sending a revised manuscript can signal. The unprofessional part from sending a manuscript that's not ready, the annoying part from that they may well have started reading, or have a system, or any of a number of other things that a re-sub can disrupt.)

With that said, I think if you're convinced that the edits strengthened the manuscript and are substantial enough that they'll make a real difference, it might be worth it to send a note stating that you've revised the first part of the manuscript after receiving feedback and were wondering whether they'd like to see the revised version. They might say no, but they might also say yes. And I think such a request would be unlikely to be taken too badly. (At least so long as this is the one time you ask.)
 

VeryBigBeard

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I always tend to think doing this is tacky and unprofessional, but I'm not an agent so can't really speak to whether it'd be a problem. I doubt it, frankly. Common knowledge is authors are pretty weird; on the scale of odd things we do, this kind of thing really doesn't rank.

But figure how it looks to the eye of a future agent, editor, publicist, etc.--anyone with a stake in your work and your success. Which should include you, ideally. Learning when and how to say "it's finished" and then let go is a very important part of being able to write professionally for readers and for an audience. When you send a piece to press, you don't get to rush over a couple months later and beg to make changes--because, if you did, a lot of people would be out a lot of money, and it sends a message that you don't take your work very seriously. Wasn't it right the first time? Of course we know that every pass makes a stronger MS. But the idea here is you're supposed to get to a point where you can maybe even make your contract deadline, so whatever your process is, you need to make sure you can end up at The End For Real This Time on something like a schedule.

A lot of new writers struggle with the anxiety of querying, though. A lot. Maybe all. Partly, it's very easy to query before one is ready. Partly it's just natural angst about whether the work is good enough, which there's not much anyone can do to prevent. But when you query, or sub, or print, you have to try as hard as you can to let it go at least until you reach a certain milestone.

That's why a lot of people suggest doing smallish query batches. You send 10 or so, you get your rejections, then you have a window where you can apply any feedback (not that you should expect much from rejections, or necessarily apply any you do get), send it out to beta-readers, do a revision, whatever. Patience and confidence are mutually dependent skills you have to develop, as is learning to self-edit before you send stuff. Do not ever think that someone will fix it for you later.

I'm not an agent, so you can take this as you will. I will say that, when I'm beta-reading and people are stealth-subbing while I'm taking the time to give detailed feedback... that grinds my gears a fair bit. Mostly because it's such a waste of your own effort. I'm about to send you a veritable sea of red pen that will drown out your wildest dreams--why are you looking to subject yourself to that while awaiting an offer from your dream agent? Almost invariably, the real reason is insecurity and while I totally, totally understand where that comes from, you're still out my time and yours. Plus, you're then likely to be in a position where you have very conflicting feedback, one set from an agent, one from a disinterested reader in your genre, and you have to try and untangle the ensuing mess while I play my tiny violin upon the tattered strings of your confidence.
 

gtanders

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That's why a lot of people suggest doing smallish query batches. You send 10 or so, you get your rejections, then you have a window where you can apply any feedback (not that you should expect much from rejections, or necessarily apply any you do get), send it out to beta-readers, do a revision, whatever. Patience and confidence are mutually dependent skills you have to develop, as is learning to self-edit before you send stuff. Do not ever think that someone will fix it for you later.
+1 to this...

I'm not an agent, so you can take this as you will. I will say that, when I'm beta-reading and people are stealth-subbing while I'm taking the time to give detailed feedback... that grinds my gears a fair bit. Mostly because it's such a waste of your own effort. I'm about to send you a veritable sea of red pen that will drown out your wildest dreams--why are you looking to subject yourself to that while awaiting an offer from your dream agent?

...and this. At a rough guess, 80% of the betas I've done (if not more) were nowhere near ready for querying. Significant plot problems, lack of characterization, lack of motivation for the MC, underdeveloped narrative technique, etc. Often the writer would query the book before I was done with a high-level developmental critique.

All that said, the chances of any particular agent making an offer are so low, I want to say it doesn't hurt to send them a note about the new version. If they're on Twitter, you could always @-ask them if it's OK.
 

darkangel77

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Thanks everyone! I read through all your responses and sat on it for awhile. I decided to just leave it. The manuscript I sent them had been through multiple revisions and several beta readers/critique partners. Since the part that was majorly changed was the first 1/3, and those two agents requested based off my previous opening pages (in both requests, they said they were intrigued by the first 20 pgs/3 chapters and wanted to read more).

I figured better not to potentially annoy them and look unprofessional, or make it seem like I submitted work that wasn't ready, and that if they love it enough, they'll either offer with edits or ask for an R&R. I will just query new agents with the revised opening pages :)

I really appreciate all your responses!
 
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