GUYS, IF AN AGENT ASKS YOU TO DO AN R&R, YOU SHOULD BE THRILLLLLED!!!
I can't speak for everyone, but here's why this is great when I do it:
1. There is enough about your work that really intrigues me and shows me that you have potential.
2. I am giving you really valuable insight about potential ways to strengthen your manuscript and bring it to the next level, even if I don't end up signing you.
3. If you want to, you can probably wrangle a phone call out of this (I always offer to chat via phone with everyone I ask for revisions) to get a sense of me as a person and whether you think we would work well together.
4. I am giving you another shot (or really more like multiple shots), to submit to me!
When I email an author with my notes on how to improve the manuscript, it means I am excited by important elements of the story, but everything isn't quite coming together perfectly for me. I want to see if we can at least start it moving in the right direction; if you agree with my suggestions for the story; if you're capable of pushing your writing further; and how well you can revise. This doesn't mean that I expect the next version to be perfectly submission-ready, but I do want to get a sense of how you take direction and enact changes.
I'd love for my authors to weigh in on what it's like to revise with me in the comments section. I know that I adore working with all of them, because they all are great at visualizing change, working through edits, and knowing when to slash their manuscript and when to ask me if I'm really serious about killing off a character.
So if you get an R&R from an agent, don't despair! You're getting a great opportunity.