Journey to Published: Revisions Pre-Contract

January 18, 2013

We probably all know that being asked for revisions without a contract offer can happen. It’s actually happened to me twice, though once was pretty easy/straightforward.

There is a challenge to tackling revisions without the safety net of a contract offer. First, your editor is not really your editor yet. You probably don’t know them that well or have a good handle on what they want to see.

Second, you don’t have a contract. You can make as many changes as you want and they can still say thanks, but no thanks. Then, depending on the situation, you can be left with a half changed MS or an MS you’re unsure about.

The first time I was asked to make revisions before a contract, it was all pretty easy. They required all books in their line to have at least one fully described love scene–so I had to get rid of my fade-to-black style (and I never looked back!). I added it. They contracted the book. Voila.

The second one was not so easy. I needed to clarify conflict and motivation. Basically, I think the editor liked my voice, but my GMC was a bit of a jumbled mess. There, but needed to be more organized.

In this situation, I was asked to revise the partial and send it back to the editor. This was both exciting and terrifying. It was exciting because it was giving me a chance, but also because I thought her revision notes really did make the story better, and they helped me understand the structure of category romance better.

When I resubbed the partial, she then asked for the full. I submitted that and, though I had done what she wanted in those first pre-contracted revisions, it still wasn’t perfect. She had more notes for the full, but this process was more of a–can you solve this one problem, then if you agree to the rest of these revisions, we’ll contract.

I think there are a lot of reasons for a pre-contract revision. Obviously, the first is to make your story better. But, I think there is also the idea that sometimes editors want to get a feel for if you can revise. Just because you can write a decent story doesn’t mean you can (or will willingly) revise well.

Regardless of why or how, there is something important to remember during revisions, and it can be hard with the stress of trying to impress an editor and making your story better and not screwing up your chance!

The editor liked something in your story enough to want to work with you–contract or no. It is truly baffling the amount of submissions editors get, and they’re not going to waste their time on something they think is crap. A request for revision is a compliment.

Also, even if it does end up a rejection in the end, you’ve had the opportunity to work with an editor and most of the time you will learn something from that, and you may even walk away with a better manuscript to submit elsewhere.



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