{Coffee with Kara}: Revise & Resubmit, Please!

Recently, one of my authors asked me: Why would you send an R&R rather than offer a contract and work with the author on the issues during developmental or content edits? And I thought: What a great blog post idea! So, here we are 🙂

What exactly is an R&R? In publishing, an R&R stands for Revise & Resubmit. It’s actually a very good thing! It means the agent / editor sees a lot of potential in your writing / story but there’s just something not quite there yet. It’s usually something the agent / editor can easily pinpoint and ask the author to fix. I’ll admit, I personally don’t send a lot of R&Rs, and neither do any of the other editors here at Anaiah. So if you get one, it means we really, really do want to see the manuscript again after revisions.

How does an R&R work? Typically, the agent or editor will respond to your submission stating what they enjoyed about the story or writing, followed by the things they felt didn’t work. And this can be absolutely anything, and it will vary greatly depending on the agent or editor. At the end of the email, they will encourage you to resubmit the manuscript once you’ve made revisions.

Do I have to do an R&R? Absolutely not! If an agent or editor asks you to change something you vehemently disagree with, you don’t have to do as they ask. Now, if you want to reply to thank them and politely decline, that’s fine, but that’s not necessary.

So, if an agent or editor likes the story so much, why not just make an offer and then work on the issues during edits? Why offer an R&R? There are multiple reasons an agent or editor will offer an R&R, and I don’t proclaim to know all of them, but I can give you the top 2 reasons the Anaiah editors will offer an R&R:

  1. Timing. When a book is contracted, it gets put on our production schedule, which then means editorial deadlines are set. If the issue(s) that the agent / editor feel needs to be fixed can be time consuming, asking for an R&R allows the author to work at their pace rather than working within set, tight deadlines.
  2. Deal Breakers. Sometimes the things an editor asks to be fixed are things that are deal breakers for the author. While an editor can’t know with any certainty what is or isn’t a deal breaker, we can make educated guesses, and if we even think it might pose a problem, we’ll ask for an R&R as opposed to offering a contract.

What types of things do you ask for in an R&R? I can’t–and won’t–speak for anyone else, but the most common things Anaiah editors ask for in a revise and resubmit are….

Multiple Points of View: Here at Anaiah, our preference is to have a single POV per chapter. We will allow up to two different POVs in a single chapter, but rarely will we allow anymore than that. So if we get a manuscript with three or four or more POVs in a single chapter, we’ll ask the author to fix it to better suit our personal guidelines.

Overuse of Scene Breaks: This often goes hand-in-hand with multiple points of view. If a manuscript has more than one or two scene breaks in a single chapter, the story itself becomes choppy and episodic. We often ask for authors to smooth out the scene breaks, which often means a lot of filling in, cutting, and overall restructuring.

Content: As a Christian publisher, we have specific guidelines regarding the content we will and won’t publish. If we find a manuscript we love, but there are some problematic scenes in terms of acceptable content, we can ask the author for an R&R to remove those specific scenes.

So, there you have it — the insider track on R&Rs here at Anaiah. Got any questions? Ask them in our comments 🙂

5 thoughts on “{Coffee with Kara}: Revise & Resubmit, Please!

  1. What if you get an R&R multiple times from the same editor? Is that bad? Should you comply? That happened to me before Anaiah and on the third round, they wanted me to cut a ton of
    my word count, which i declined 🙂

    1. While I have heard of publishers and editors who do this — ask for multiple R&Rs prior to offering a contract — I think this is rare. Is it bad? I think that depends. Are the suggested changes things you agree with? Is this an editor / publisher that you *really* want to work with? Are you willing to go back and forth with an editor multiple times making changes to your book with no guarantees it will result in a publishing contract?

      Something similar happened to me once, as well. I agreed 100% with the first R&R, but by the second one, I was getting that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. And I kept asking myself: If I spend all this time making all these other changes, too, is it going to be enough? Or will I be making my MS into something this specific editor wants only to have him/her ultimately reject? And if that happens, then what do I do because I then have an MS that’s tailored to one specific editor; what if no one else likes this version of it? Ultimately, I declined the second R&R request.

      At the end of the day, the MS is yours, and as the author, you know the story better than anyone. Only you can really decide if multiple R&Rs are worth it.

    2. I don’t blame you for declining. Personally, I wouldn’t have been willing to do it more than once, maybe twice. Like Kara said, it’s your book, and you need to make it what you (and God) want it to be.

  2. I got one of these! I was thrilled that you saw so much potential in my book; it gave me a lot of hope. I can personally attest that if you, as an author, are open-minded and approach one of these with a willingness to change (if you can), it can and does lead to a contract. It doesn’t always, of course, but it can. That’s precisely what happened to me! And that was one of the best days of my life!

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