This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, August 10, 2009

Revisions for Multiple Editors & Agents

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Sometimes editors and agents will request a writer to make some serious revisions before they offer a contract. This is good news. They see promise in your writing and potential with your story. Editors and agents are busy individuals and don't have the time to develop authors to a level of publication. If they offer any constructive feedback, you should take it with an open mind.

However, I do want to offer a little wisdom that I had to learn the hard way with good old-fashioned experience. What one editor or agent will suggest, isn't necessarily what another one will recommend. Like authors, they have varying opinions. Additionally, they work for different houses and agencies that aren't looking for the same thing. If they ask you to make changes, they are trying to make your work better, but they are also trying to make it fit into the parameters with which they work.

This is why it is possible to make the requested changes and still get a rejection. Maybe you couldn't make it work for their particular fiction line or meet their expectations, but it is also possible that by the time you make the revisions and send it back that they've already moved on to other projects they've made contract offers on. They no longer have the time to make your project work, or the open slots they had a few months ago have gone to other authors.

Even after going through all of this, other editors and agents may request revisions to change it back to the way you had it before. Remember, stories are subjective and this CAN happen. I'm living proof.

My advice is to create a separate folder with that agent or editor's name or the name of the publisher or agency for which they work. Set up another folder inside that folder with your manuscript name. This is where you need to place a COPY of your original manuscript. This is the copy on which you will make those requested revisions.

Go through the revision requests and decide which suggestions would be good to make to your original regardless of which house or agency reviews the manuscript. In other words, if there are some loop holes in the story that need attention or grammar mistakes, you will want to fix these issues even to your original. But if it is a request to rename a character or a conservative change that may not be a problem at a different house or agency, you don't necessarily want to make these changes to the original.

If a contract is offered after you make your revisions and resubmit them, you probably won't care about the original. The new version will become your original--because more changes will probably be requested--and no other publisher will see it until it is in print and on the shelves.

But, in the meantime, while you try to make it the perfect fit for the right publisher, having different versions of the same manuscript will make additional revisions easier and help save time in between your full-time job and taking care of your family.


Good ideas. I have about 5 copies of my "oringinal" right now on two different computers. I actually deleted 2 others fairly recently. That is too many to hold on to!

Thank you for this information:))

I had a similar situation and I second this advice!

Also, learn how to use the document compare function in Word. I know it's painful. I know it's ugly. Do it anyway. You'll be glad you did the first time you need to work out what's different between two versions.

I've never used the document compare function. Excellent advice, Gary. Thanks!

Good advice Jennifer - I was asked recently to alter a storyline, reduce PoV's and remove a plot thread completely to conform to the publisher's 'Romance Criteria' I agonised for a while but decided the finished object wasn't my story, and I didn't like it with those changes anyway - so I turned down the contract. The manuscript still hasn't found a home, but I don't regret it - I think!

I like Anita's comment, and I admire her for not giving a publisher a book that is no longer hers just to get published. It's my opinion, but I believe it is important that authors keep their voice. It wouldn't be a bad idea if sometimes publishers would conform to the author, not without too much compromise, but to keep in tact an author's literary voice and style. This way there wouldn't be so much of the same ole fiction on the shelves.

Yep, that's what I always do. I have a folder within the folder for that manuscript with the name of the agent/editor and the word Revisions. I recently had to turn one of my YA novels into a tween/middle grade novel for an agent but I still personally prefer the original I kept it and that's the one I'm still submitting around to other agents while I'm waiting to hear back.

Thanks for the great advice. My current novel is still under construction. And I've got folders for the original rough draft, the rewritten/edited version, and now the "changing the ending" version.

I've heard it's good to keep a copy of the version you sent to each editor/agent, so that when they tell you to change something on page 53, your page numbers still match. (Just in case you decided to tweak a few more things while you were waiting to hear back from them.)