Paper being edited with a red pen. An arm rests on the page on the right side

The Do’s and Don’ts of a Revise and Resubmit

If you’re reading this post, you’ve likely put in the time to complete a draft of your manuscript and taken the leap to submit it to the Harlequin team! After staring endlessly at your inbox, you finally see it – a response! It’s not a rejection or an acceptance, but a Revise and Resubmit.  So, now what?

Sometimes a submission comes across an editor’s desk that shows promise. It’s not quite a perfect fit, but with some changes, the editor would be interested in looking at it again. This is known as a Revise and Resubmit, or an R&R.  As editor Emma Cole writes, “This is not a guarantee of acceptance, but usually… they will also send you some notes explaining which areas of the submission need to be altered, removed, or expanded on in order for your story to have a higher potential for acceptance.” 

Receiving an R&R can oftentimes feel overwhelming, so our team has gathered some Do’s and Don’ts of revise and resubmits to set you on the path to a successful resubmission!

Don’t … Revise and Resubmit Unless You’ve Been Explicitly Asked

Editors are, generally, very nice people who really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or lead anyone astray.  Because of this, sometimes their diplomatic and polite “No thanks” can sound like a “Maybe”.  Unless an editor has explicitly asked to see a submission again, it’s best to submit elsewhere or get started on to your next project.  If you have received a rejection, don’t get discouraged.  There are many possible reasons for a rejection and just because this story didn’t work for a specific editor, it doesn’t mean that they will pass on your next one!

Do … Take Your Time

There is no definitive timeline for resubmitting after receiving an R&R.  After reading through the feedback, take a step back and sit with it for a few days before leaping into the revisions.  Revise and resubmits can often be a lot of work and if the editor has taken the time to give detailed feedback with the hope of moving toward acquisition, they won’t forget about you.   

Don’t … Feel Discouraged

Even if the R&R is not the magical request to buy your book right now, it is still a great confidence boost!  Once the original excitement fades, it can feel quite stressful to face what can be a significant number of revisions.  Make sure to take it step-by-step and keep writing!

Do … Make Meaningful Changes

While editorial feedback will differ between editors, investigate all the elements of the feedback.  For example, if the editor notes that the conflict isn’t strong enough to sustain a romance, look at the characters’ motivations and background, along with the plot elements, when thinking about how to make the conflict stronger.

If the editor has provided specific feedback, consider the implications of the changes in other areas of your manuscript.  For example, if the editor suggests that your hero could benefit from a change of career from a cop to a rancher, how might that influence the character’s dialogue or perspective?  

It might be tempting to discount feedback that seems ambiguous or unhelpful but take some time to consider the reasons behind it.  If you don’t agree with every change suggested, that’s ok!  In the end, this is your manuscript, and the changes must come from you.  Listen to the feedback, and trust your own instincts, too.

Do … Follow the Editor’s Guidelines on How to Resubmit

Unless the editor specifically asks you to email them the revised manuscript, most often the manuscript will be resubmitted through Submittable.  If this is the case, create a new Submittable submission, rather than adding it to your first.  Make sure to specify that it is an R&R and which editor requested it.  This way, you will be on the top of the submission pile. 

Even though a Revise and Resubmit is a step in the right direction, it does not guarantee an acceptance after the changes have been made.  If your revised manuscript is not acquired, it wasn’t a waste of time! Editorial feedback is always valuable and can be used to level up your next story.  Although this story might not be the right fit, you’ve had a chance to develop a relationship with an editor, and another submission may finally be The One.  

The journey to publication can be long (and sometimes discouraging), but if you’ve received a Revise and Resubmit, you’re on the right track! So, keep writing and keep reading.  We can’t wait to see what you’re working on.