Revise and Resubmit


R and R

R+R Literary Agent

And finally, How long should an R+R literary agent take?

These were the terms I searched when I got an email from an agent asking me to revise, and resubmit. For those who are not familiar with the term, I’ll save you a google. An R+R is when an agent loves your book, but not quite enough to offer representation. Usually, they think something needs to be expanded, or subtracted upon, and hopefully they provide you with some notes. The information I found online was very high level, what we call in engineering a ten-thousand foot view. Very broad with not a lot of direction. It left me floundering a bit, so my hope is that you read the stuff below and it helps you if you’re wondering where to start.

Within my brain, and maybe within your own, there exists three parts. One is the Planner Brain, the one that looks at a project objectively, examines the parts, and forms a plan. Two is the Worry Brain that takes everything from Planner Brain and examines all the way it will fail. Three is Scream Brain, which runs around the other two at 100 mph, screaming.

Getting all three to work together for an R+R, was a challenge.

First of all, a Revise and Resubmit, or R+R, was daunting. It seemed like a final chance with the agent who requested it. It seems like I should add a sport analogy here—but I don’t watch sports. So imagine your own. Something about balls and three point lines with three seconds? I don’t know, that seems right. Anyways, I think you get the gist. Worry Brain and Scream Brain immediately took over.

But letting them stay in control would have been admitting defeat, or not giving my all. And I wasn’t about to do that. So I focused on Planner Brain, trying to ignore the doubts of Worry Brain and the screams of Scream Brain. The first course of action was to realize how long it had been since I’d been through the book. Months. I’d been working on a new WIP too, so my attention hadn’t been on the querying book at all. Therefore, it seemed like the best course was to get reading.

So, I did. And I took notes! On every, single page.

Picture of notes from every page.
Can you read my handwriting?

The notes were anything that fit within the instructions given by the agent for the R+R. Things that I would work on, once the book was fresh in my head: plot points I wasn’t quite sure of, world building and settings that needed to be expanded upon. When I finished the read-through, I went back to the beginning and page by page I enacted the changes needed.

A note here if you want to attempt this method: Writing down the page number soon proved to be a little fruitless for me. As you add in more detail your page numbers grow and things that were on one page are now on a different page, who knew! For me, I have to have my notes separate from the book itself—so no comments in the document itself—and writing notes by hand helps me creatively. Thankfully I wrote enough in my notes that I knew which part needed changing even as my page number became useless, but I thought I’d mention this.

Planner Brain was loving this method and if I had to do an R+R again this is the way I would do it. Worry Brain was not so sure it was the best way, but since I couldn’t find a blog post about how to do an R+R it relented to a background dread permitting every changed sentence. Scream Brain…kept screaming. Though the long drawn out fearful yells did eventually turn into my own cheerleader that I could finish this and create something better.

After all the changes were made I still wasn’t done. I wanted to make sure I was putting my best foot forward, as it could very well be my final foot in the game with this agent (sports??? Maybe???). Some agents will request a second R+R after a first, but there was no guarantee that would happen. Therefore, after I made the changes I went through and checked for filter words, telling emotions that should/could be expanded upon, and colors (same as emotion—why say blue skies when you could invoke feeling with the description?).

filter words, colors, and emotion

Combing for filter words is my least favorite thing to do. Doing it after my book is finished is just Scream Brain yelling curses the whole time and Worry Brain filling my head with self-doubts that filter words even exist at all. Planner Brain has faffed off at this point, its work done. If you are drafting, I highly recommend stopping every five chapters to comb for filter words and create something like the picture below to keep track. I find in doing it this way that I actually end up putting in less filter words as I continue because I get better and better at noticing them and rewording things while drafting.

filter words in a table on vertical, chapter numbers on horizontal

Once filter words, emotions, and colors were checked for it was off to beta-readers. It may seem like you can skip this step. You cannot skip this step. You have just immersed yourself in your work and added things maybe at a breakneck speed because writers seem perpetually convinced our time is running out. So, go find you some people you trust (preferably fresh eyes) and complete beta-reading.

Then, you can send your R+R off.

And try to convince Worry Brain and Scream Brain to be quiet while Planner Brain faffs off.

Good luck!

Questions, comments? Leave them below!


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