My second manuscript in my Wild Crime series was submitted to my publisher and I waited, and waited, and waited. In reality, the reply came very quickly in the publishing world. Six weeks after submission, the reply came, although it wasn’t the answer I’d hoped to receive. It was an offer for me to “revise and resubmit” the manuscript.
This is good news, but not the best news. It meant they liked the book, but it wasn’t quite ready for a contract. This is the purgatory of publishing. You’re not officially in and not entirely out. Instead, they’re telling you they like the manuscript and believe it has plenty of merit — but falls just a bit short. It was a blow to receive this response as I’d worked hard on the book. And, after all, I was a published author — I knew how to write a book and believed this one was even better than the first. Beyond that, I’d spent a tremendous amount of time writing and editing, even more time planning and plotting, and more time yet in learning to be a writer.
Ah, the ego of a brand-new author.
However, the news was they still wanted it and I needed to focus on that. Typically, with a revise and resubmit, the publisher (or agent) will tell you where the manuscript falls short. My editor gave me a detailed letter letting me know where the manuscript didn’t work. At this point, I was free to take my manuscript somewhere else or I could make the requested changes. In the past, I’ve done both. Once, I made changes an agent requested and discovered the result was a much better novel — only to have the agent pass on the manuscript in the end. Another time, I passed on the opportunity to revise and resubmit a different project because I felt strongly the changes the agent wanted would have substantially altered the heart of my story.
This time, I agreed with the suggestions. As much as I’d hoped the manuscript was ready, I had to agree the comments had merit. I knew in my heart the changes were necessary and wished I’d seen the flaws earlier. There was one change in particular that was going to take some hard work.
A note about the “revise and resubmit” process: The agent/editor doesn’t want this done in two or three days. If a writer turns a manuscript around that fast, she sends an instant message that she didn’t work very hard. It’s expected to take several weeks to a few months. Most agents/editors will let you know there’s not a big hurry — they want it done right. In my case, it took a couple of months, which included having one of my beta readers look over the story one more time to see if the revision made sense and addressed the editor’s concerns.
Once more, I submitted the manuscript for “Crime Times Two.” This was it. There would either be a “yes” or “no.” End of story. This time the wait would be even harder.