Ask a Publisher: What Does Revise and Resubmit Mean?

The publishing process is oftentimes a long one, from the time you begin querying and searching for the right publisher to your first full manuscript request. And when you receive that first full manuscript request from a publisher or an agent, it can feel as though the stars are finally starting to align. Then, several months pass, and you may receive a response from the industry professional who was reading your book…but it isn’t full of plans for acceptance. Instead, it includes a simple instruction: to revise and resubmit your manuscript at a later date.

But what does revise and resubmit really mean?

At a basic level, an instruction to revise and resubmit indicates that after certain editorial changes are completed, the professional would welcome the opportunity to reconsider your manuscript. This type of response is encouraging—it means they liked your manuscript enough to not outright reject it, but they do think it still needs work. After all, telling you to revise and resubmit your manuscript may very well mean that, with certain edits occurring, they’d be prepared to move into the contracting stage of publishing with you (though nothing is guaranteed until the ink is dry!).

The revisions suggested will vary for each manuscript; additionally, each industry professional may provide a different level of detail for the revisions needed. In some cases, they may bluntly and simply say to “revise and resubmit” and thank you for sending it. In other situations, though, they may be a tad more specific and explain that your story’s development is adequate, but the grammar needs work. Similarly, they may say that your prose is excellent, but your plot’s progression or character development is lacking in some way. Whatever the type of revisions they suggest may be, the fact of the matter is their experienced eyes still see a way to improve your manuscript, and that’s worth your consideration.

It’s important to remember, however, that if an industry professional provides you with a list of revisions that differ from the vision you had for your book, that doesn’t mean you have to follow their suggestions. While we encourage you to consider their suggestions—and ponder why they may be making them—an editor or agent’s idea of a book should never override the vision of the author. Industry professionals may not always agree on how revisions should be done on a particular manuscript; it’s possible another agent or editor wouldn’t suggest any changes beyond the line-level. Therefore, when you receive a response encouraging you to revise and resubmit, if the professional has provided suggested revisions, what matters is that you consider them…not that you implement them just to acquire a contract.

When it comes time to resubmit your manuscript (if you decide to do so), make sure you review the industry professional’s email carefully, verifying that you’ve followed their instructions, especially if they provided a minimum amount of time before you can resubmit for their consideration (this may also be available on their website). If you’ve decided to implement either some or all of their suggested revisions, it’s crucial that you don’t rush through the process for any reason; you want to give yourself the best possible chance for acceptance. Ultimately, receiving an instruction to revise and resubmit your manuscript is a positive sign, even if it stings a bit at first. As writers, it’s natural that we want people to love and appreciate our work as it is, especially after we’ve spent so much time polishing it. Nonetheless, try not to focus too much on the “revise” portion of the instruction, because there is more to it than that: the resubmission. And that means that the agent or editor who gave you the revise and resubmit instruction wants to read your story again…just like we readers do with the books we enjoy.

Josha Publishing, LLC is a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company that is passionate about booksstories, and the power of words to change lives. Learn more about us here and remember to sign up for our newsletter to find out about new content, new books, and submissions update.

Ask a Publisher:
What Does Revise and Resubmit Mean?