The 5 R’s
In Part 1 of this impromptu Summer 2018 Wrap Party, I talked about my participation in #SFFPit, and the queries that resulted. Several of those queries swiftly became rejections, but the last turned into that most rare of things. No, not an offer of representation–there’s rare and then there’s just plain fictional–but a revise and resubmit request. Because ‘revise and resubmit request’ is already an absurd number of R-words1, I’ve decided to go one further. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks, also known2 as The 5 R’s.
Getting an R&R request is a pretty big deal: it means the agent liked the manuscript enough to want to help improve it. In this case, they suggested that I either reduce the quantity of expletives in my book3 to make it more appropriate for the Young Adult genre, or age my cast to 18+, so the book would fit into the New Adult genre, where such details are considered more acceptable.
I was thrilled that their request focused on my book’s genre and maximizing its sales potential instead of some gaping plot hole in my storyline that I had completely overlooked. I also liked that they offered two different suggestions for how to address their concern. Of those two suggestions, I agreed that the second–aging the cast to 18+–made the most sense.
I had originally set both my MC’s age and the age of adulthood in my book to sixteen to reflect the world’s high mortality rate. Because the government wanted to usher the next generation of Capes into the work force as quickly as possible, it eliminated junior high entirely and started college at 16. In reality, I barely touched on this detail in the book. My cast was sixteen, but circumstances and social pressures meant I was effectively writing them as pseudo-eighteen-year-olds. Aging them up to actually be eighteen cost me nothing when compared to the potential gains in marketing and sellability. I started on my revision almost immediately.
I completed the requested revision last week. While revising, I did look for behavior that seemed inappropriate for eighteen-year-olds, but there was surprisingly little to adjust4. The majority of my revision involved finding passages where I had referenced ages, either directly (“Damian, you’re eighteen, untrained, and…”) or indirectly (“Almost fourteen years later…”), and adjusting them accordingly.
I also reduced the expletive density in a few instances where I thought it was needlessly gratuitious. It’s still probably not a book my mom will enjoy, but it flows better than it did.
After revising the book, I then had to reread it. Again.5 Somehow, I still liked it on my 9 millionth readthrough, so it was time to send it to my beta readers6.
Writers say this all the time, but it really is impossible to overstate the importance of beta readers. In addition to fresh eyes, they bring their own perspectives and experiences to the book and help expose problem areas that the author would never have noticed. The feedback this time was focused primarily on my new changes, as everyone has read the book multiple times. They identified two places where I’d missed updating the ages, and a couple of typos that had resulted from the rewrite. They also found passages where the language could stand to be softened. The general agreement was that my revision was solid and that the book had improved as a result.
With my beta readers blessing, I sent the revised manuscript back to the lit agents who had requested it. That was Tuesday of this week. As I’ve never had an R&R request before, I can’t guess how long the next step will take. This revision was about changing a specific detail, so reviewing those changes should be straight-forward, but who knows?
One of my previous full requests took multiple months to clear the first approval layer7. It took an additional six months for the actual agent to read it8. In this case, I know the agents are reading my manuscript, but there could be another step in the process that I’m not aware of. (It’s also possible that they like the manuscript less on a second read-through, in which case this R&R would become just a single R that I’m more than familiar with: rejection.
Whatever happens, I think the manuscript is better now than it was. That makes the experience a net positive!
With all that done, it’s time to rest and relax, right? Yeah… not so much! While I can’t predict how long a response will take, I have a ton10 of other writing projects to work on while I wait. Next week, I’ll share some of that to-do list. I’ll even arrange everything into a tidy schedule so we can laugh when that schedule is inevitably completely upended.
Until then, thanks again for tuning in!
- And because SEO keeps telling me I need original titles for my blog posts.
- For this blog post, and only this blog post!
- And presumably the other potentially objectionable elements, like adult situations and sexual content
- Some of this was because I was writing them as pseudo-eighteen-year-olds… some of it was probably because I am old and 16 and 18 both seem pretty young.
- I think the Chinese have a “Hell of Reading Your Own Writing”. And if they don’t, they should.
- Also known as my amazing, spectacular wife and friends
- A lot of agents have their own beta readers who read the manuscripts first and then pass on only the recommended ones to the agent for review.
- She didn’t like nearly as much as her beta reader had. Go figure.
- This step should probably be called ‘Wait’, but I really needed another R.
- Maybe even a metric ton.
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