Friday, November 2, 2012

R&Rs From the POV of a Literary Agent Intern

Hello lovelies!

Wednesday Nazarea talked to you guys about R&Rs, also known as Revise & Resubmits. She talked about what to do when you receive them, what they could possibly mean, and whether or not you should take the advice.

Now, as some of you may or may not know I'm an editorial intern for a literary agency, meaning I read and evaluate manuscripts. Lots of em'. Recently, I was given one as a mini assignment. What would I do if I were an agent? Well, I wanted an R&R.

I know what you're thinking--I'm a writer. I know what it's like on the other side of the virtual desk--why would I ask this?

Here's the thing. This manuscript had a lot of strong elements. An authentic male voice and unique visual elements the writer wished to incorporate into the book. BUT--and there is always a but isn't there? The manuscript had slow pacing, characters that weren't fully there and some of those visual elements were being underutilized. So everything that made it stand out was also what made it sag down to me.

So if I was an agent I would have asked for an R&R. Why? Because I wanted to see if this writer had the chops to really deliver on the ambitious promise they'd made to the reader with these extra elements. I'd also like to add that my notes on the manuscript were almost identical to my boss's so I think I'm doing something right. Sometimes an R&R is that on-the-fence sort of moment for an agent. The "I like it, but if they can fix these few things I may just love it."



**Note that opinions expressed here are mine alone and not the agency I intern with**


  1. This is useful - so the R&Rs aren't just a fob-off, and there's a real possibility of a positive outcome if writers can get over the fact that work isn't quite good enough yet.

  2. Editors always expect revisions, so a writer who can't accept an R&R from an agent is not ready to sell a manuscript to a publisher.

    Of course, I know a lot of people who've been rejected after R&Rs, including myself. It happened twice to me, in fact. Maybe this is because the writer still didn't meet the high expectations that agent had for the manuscript. However, if the writer knows the manuscript is stronger after the revision, then it was worth it. A different agent, looking at the newly revised and improved manuscript, might be impressed.