When it comes to changes to your manuscript, it’s ultimately your decision to make them or not. I’m a very editorial agent, so I’m going to make extensive recommendations. I usually do this when I offer representation so the author knows what my expectations are for a revision.
However, revisions are a conversation. If an agent says that x needs to be changed but you think that would hurt the integrity of your story, you can explain why. We’ll try to work with you to enhance that point so you can keep it in. I’m always open to discussing potential revisions.
I think the only real red flags agents will have are racist/sexist/offensive issues. If there is something that needs to be changed because it will alienate or offend a group of people, I expect that change to be made, and I won’t budge on it. Of course, getting sensitivity reads is important, and any recommendations they make have to be followed as well.
Other than that, agents know that the book is yours. We don’t want to change your vision for the book, but we want to make it the best book it can be. If you don’t like an agent’s editorial vision, then they likely aren’t the right agent for you. That’s why it’s important to talk about revisions before you sign with an agent!
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