Ask Me Anything: If a MS Needs Revision, How Much Is Too Much?

Okay, this was the question from Tumblr:

If you like a MS, but it needs work/revising, how likely are you to offer? Or would it be more likely you'd ask for a R&R?

Here's the problem with this question: "If you like a MS..."

If I like a ms, I’m not going to offer.

Here’s a mythbuster: there are not a lot of TERRIBLE manuscripts that come across my inbox. 95% of what I read is decent. It’s okay. But let’s face it, okay isn’t good enough. It has to be great. I have to LOVE it.

I recently had lunch with Alexis Bass and her editor Rosemary Brosnan and I was telling them that when I read her manuscript (pulled it out of the slush pile!), LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES, I read it in one sitting. I couldn’t stop! Then I emailed her to say how much I liked it and that I wanted to talk to her. And then I was freaking out because she didn’t respond right away. I kept checking my email and refreshing and worrying if my email didn’t sound enthusiastic enough.

That I was that obsessed with the ms told me that I HAD TO WORK ON IT. I loved it that much. And Alexis and I did do some revising before I sent it on submission, as I do with almost all of my clients.

What separates and offer from an R&R is the level of work. I ask for an R&R if I love an idea and see a lot of potential. If I have a really great vision for a book but it’s so much work that I’m not sure if the author can make that happen then I’m not going to offer yet.

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Ashley Leath said...

First, LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES is a fantastic title. And second, what a great job you have, to get to fall in love with such wonderful work before anyone else!

Katharine Schellman said...

Makes a lot of sense! When I read a book and think, "That was a nice way to spend some hours," I'm not going to recommend it to a friend. But when I read one and I'm all, "MY LIFE HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED IN THE LAST 300 PAGES" then yeah, I'm going to recommend it to everyone I see.

I would guess agenting is a similar process. =)