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Revise and Resubmit

by Mary

An editor said my novel has merit but she would like me to Revise and Rewrite if I want to. Apparently, I'm doing too much head hopping. When I read my book again I realized she was right. As a matter of fact my entire manuscript was filled with head hopping. Also, I lost her with a lot of past information. At times she didn't know what time zone she was in. She was right again.

She left the decision up to me and said she would love to read the story again.

Is that good news?

I realize that this doesn't mean they will accept my novel. I'm looking at this as an opportunity to improve my writing. Now I know where I'm making my mistakes. The story is reading a lot smoother now. If It doesn't get accepted I'll always appreciate the feedback.


Mary, you don't say what sort of editor asked you to revise and resubmit. if you mean an editor at a traditional publishing house or small press, one who will pay you an advance when he or she accepts your manuscript, then YES, this is good news. The editor has taken extra time to encourage you and that is definitely a positive sign!

However, if you sent the manuscript to a vanity press (where you must pay to have them publish your work) and the editor there asked you to revise and resubmit, that is not particularly positive. In effect, that editor is saying, "this work is so unready that we can't even justify selling you our editing package yet."

I will assume that you mean the former, and in that case, you likely have an interesting story with solid potential, despite poorly integrated flashbacks and possibly point of view issues. "Head hopping" could refer to the POV or it could mean that you have a lot of "talking heads," characters that talk to each other but do little else to move the plot forward.

Most manuscripts that are not yet ready are rejected with a simple form letter. If you received encouragement and an offer to take a second look, you are on the right track, and fortunate to have reached an editor willing to take a second look.

When editors or agents receive a well written manuscript that does not suit them, they usually reject it with a form letter. If the story is of special interest to the editor, he or she may add a note to the form letter that asks the author to try again after revisions, and the editor may point to some weaknesses that are a problem.

When editors or agents receive a poorly written manuscript, one that shows little understanding of the narrative process, or one which has been sloppily edited, they will not take the writer seriously, and in most cases the writer will not have a second chance with that professional.

This makes sense, as it demonstrates lack of professionalism on the writer's part. Writing is a profession, and people in the publishing industry expect that anyone who wishes to join the profession has taken the time to learn how to make a good first impression.

I cannot fathom why anyone would send a manuscript out without first knowing that it is ready. Writers who understand the process would rather pay an impartial third party to say that a manuscript needs work than risk their only chance with an agent or editor.

I now offer a very inexpensive service that goes beyond "yes it's ready" or "no it's not ready" in an attempt to help serious writers find an agent or publisher. Not everyone can afford a full manuscript evaluation, but anyone who thinks he can't afford $35 to learn if his work is ready, is either shortsighted or not taking the business seriously enough.

I designed the assessment for people entering contests, but it is quick and inexpensive insurance for anyone contemplating submission: Writing to Win Quick Assessment.

Congratulations on the positive response you received! As you revise, you may find some of the articles on the Writing Help Page useful, particularly the ones on Flashback, Story Action, and Scenes and Sequels. Good luck!

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