Ask Daphne! About Revising A Manuscript That’s Out There

November 19th, 2010 • Kate

tronThese lovely shoes are part of the Tron: Legacy couture line, and while, at $800, they’re not going to be cheap, that’s probably a bargain compared to being trapped in cyberspace for a decade or more, right? Anyway, moving on to today’s question, Denise writes:

I’ve read conflicting information on what to do when an agent has a copy of your ms but since sending you’ve made changes to it. Is it okay to notify them of the changes? Does this irk agents? I’m sure I’m not the only writer to have experienced this.

Before you yell at me for sending an ms to an agent in the first place. Know that the ms is complete, was complete at the time. Because an unpublished manuscript is something that can always be improved upon, I did another round of revisions.

I think it depends on the timing. If you’ve *just* sent a manuscript to an agent, I wouldn’t send notice of a new version anytime soon. However, say you sent a partial a couple of months ago, and maybe haven’t heard back yet. In the meantime, you did your revisions. In that case, I think you could take the opportunity to check in on the status of the material with the agent reading, and let her know that, btw, you have a revised version, if she hasn’t yet gotten to the other version, should you send this instead? I think that certainly works for fulls, too.

I will add, however, that revisions while you’re in the process of querying and submitting make me wonder if you did the revisions at another agent’s request. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, since it shows some interest, but if you’re offering the revised manuscript to other agents, it makes me think about other agents saying no. Now, that may be all in my head, and not worth mentioning, but hey — you asked!

In other news, if you haven’t already, swing by Wednesday’s post about the blurbs for Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris to share your brand of nerdity for a chance to win a super-duper kt literary bookbag prize pack! I’ve got galleys of XVI by Julia Karr, bookmarks for Bad Taste in Boys, copies of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and more!

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7 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About Revising A Manuscript That’s Out There”

  1. Elizabeth Kaylene Says:

    Thank you for this! I've been wondering about that ever since I did a few rounds of edits on a short story, submitted it to a magazine, and then did a few more edits. Mostly I was wondering, "What if they accept it? I like this version better now. Would they allow me to send them an edited version?"

    That short story has been rejected — so yay, I get to submit it somewhere else the way it is now! — but I'm still interested in your thoughts.

  2. Sophie Jo Warner Says:

    I have a literary question of my own: is no response from an agent on a partial past their time-frame from response a no, even if they say no where that this is the case?

  3. Kate Says:

    Sophie — I wouldn't give up on it yet. If it's past their stated time frame, follow up and ask for a response. They may just be behind, but I think most agents do respond on material they've requested, even if they may not respond to every query.

  4. Krista V. Says:

    If someone was working on agent-suggested revisions, my first thought would be that they were for a revise-and-resubmit, which begs the question: If another agent gives you editorial suggestions and asks to see the manuscript again, would it be a breach of etiquette to send the new and improved manuscript out to the other agents who still have older versions? Or would it be more appropriate to give the R&R agent the first crack at it?

  5. Kate Says:

    Krista – You definitely should give the requesting agent first crack at a revision if they've asked for one, especially if they provided any detailed notes or suggestions. I would only then send the revised manuscript to other agents if that requesting agent then rejects the revision.

  6. Krista V. Says:

    Good to know. Thank you, Kate, for this answer.

  7. Joel Kirkpatrick Says:

    I would not do revisions for an agent. I would not inform them there is a new version of the MS. The agent can work with the copy they have in their posession, your revisions will not be the key to making it any more attractive; the agent has already deemed it so.

    Revisions, and further tweaks should only come at acceptence by a publisher. Any other work before hand should only be to please the author.

    You can wear yourself out doing things for agents, which help your chances, none. Gospel advice – from an editor friend of mine.