The second thing that you can find in your inbox from an agent is the revise and resubmit request. Not as exciting as a request for pages would be, but it’s a step in the right direction. As with a rejection, the R&R is exactly what it says on the tin. The agent in question is telling you that the project isn’t right for them at this exact moment, but they see potential in it. They may even give you some suggestions for improvement. Which, granted, will sting the ego. But if you take the time to unpack it, the advice can yield rich rewards.
First, have an objective look at what the agent is advising you to do with the manuscript. As you would with a beta, sort through the suggestions and decide which you’re going to embrace and which you’re not. You’ll want to consider long and hard before shrugging off a suggestion from an agent (but there are times you’ll want to, which I’ll get into below.) Remember, they know the industry. They know what’s selling right now, and lots of agents have experience in editing as well. Also, try to keep in mind that agents are by and large extremely busy people. If they’re taking the time to not only recommend specific changes to you but inviting you to send it to them again, too? That’s a huge compliment on your work. Take their advice seriously!
Now, there will be times when you’ll want to ignore a suggestion or to pass on sending your manuscript back to the agent in question. Look at the core of the suggestions. Do they seem to be keeping with the spirit of your manuscript? Or are they trying to take it in a completely different direction altogether? This is a good way to see from the get-go if you and the agent in question would be a good fit. If you decide not, you don’t need to do anything else with the R&R. Just tag it in your spreadsheet as an R and move on to the next one.
But if you do decide to follow up, which in most circumstances I feel would be a good thing, don’t stop querying other agents while you work on the revisions. You might slow down your querying if you decide that the new direction you’re taking is overall a stronger manuscript and you want to send it to more than just this one agent. But be sure to keep the queries flying.
When you’re finally ready to send it back to the agent who originally made the suggestion, send it just as you did the initial query. This time, add a line to your query letter saying that you have made changes to the manuscript in response to their suggestions and are resubmitting it as they requested. Press send, sit back, and see if the edits are more to their liking. As always, be kind, courteous, and professional! You’re one step closer!