by G. Miki Hayden
Deja vu all over again
One thing that can make some agents crazy is an author’s sending a revised manuscript based on the agent’s rejection letter. Any actual, non-form-letter comments about the project are meant as a kindness and aren’t an invitation to resubmit unless the agent tenders an explicit invitation.
On the other hand, writers aren’t mind readers and certainly would like to resubmit, so perhaps a helpful hint from the agent wouldn’t be amiss (such as, “Even with those errors corrected, however, this isn’t the type of manuscript I feel I do best with, but I wish you great good luck elsewhere”).
Generally speaking though, if an agent has given a reason for turning down the manuscript, then don’t send it again. The marketplace is rife with authors’ reps, so you really don’t need to run after any particular one.
If all you’ve sent is a query letter, however, agencies don’t log in and track queries, of course. In such a case, you might imagine that three years later you could requery with a reworked letter and a reworked project. Maybe so, though plenty of agents will remember the concept of the book and something about it from all that way back. If the basic premise remains the same, you might expect the same conclusion, unless the market itself has altered a great deal. Certainly the market can transform in its interests overnight, so a no can change into a yes, given a dramatic turn of events.
You might be someone who pitches at conferences where you could run into an agent you’ve pitched before, or pitched via a query letter. If the agent remembers you—or your name, or the concept—you can definitely acknowledge that you’ve tried them before. In an instance such as this, having pitched and been rejected doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a second chance with the agent (using a different project, of course), and they will very likely be happy to hear the pitch.
A client recently noted that she had sent out a query to some top agents, but with the help of a critique partner had worked out a better query since. Could she write again and try to replace the query she had out there? Well, not really. The situation is an awkward one, and the agent isn’t going to go through the stack on her desk to pull the original query and replace it. That’s a bit too much for a writer to expect.
In such an instance, the author should simply move on. If she’s fixated on that agent, she might try a few months down the line with the improved query, but the agent will most likely not respond any better to the second letter. The thinnest of chances says that this time will be different than the last. The choice of resending, of course, is the author’s.
Come take a class with me at Writer’s Digest online university: https://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/. Next up is 12 Weeks to a First Draft starting on 8/8/19.
And buy a copy of my award-nominated Writing the Mystery: A Start to Finish Guide for Both Novice and Professional . Or download a copy of The Naked Writer at Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y57ecq9w with all the style and grammar tips you need.
Need a line edit? Email me at GMikiH@yahoo.com .