Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Requerying

If you have agent friends, or agency experience, or publishing experience, I'd love to hear your responses to this. I'm thoroughly confused, and I genuinely want answers. This is not a "complaint" and it's certainly not just a rant.

When is it okay to requery?

Wait.

I want to be very clear up front: I would never requery an agent or editor unless I had significantly rewritten the manuscript, including the query and the synopsis, and let a significant amount of time pass. Six months, bare minimum. Probably more like a year. (I have not been querying long enough, nor have I racked up enough rejections for me to feel like this is an issue yet)

Now that I've cleared that up...

When is it okay to requery?

Lots of agents have interns or assistants who read their slush, and I would guess in these cases they don't read... I dunno... seventy? eighty? percent of what comes through their inboxes. Those interns and assistants probably turn over at a very fast rate, as most entry-level positions tend to do. So, in all likelihood, the intern who sent me a form rejection without even passing it on to the agent last year probably doesn't even work there anymore.

Trends change. Markets change. What felt old or stale last year, might be making a resurgence now. What felt weird and alien last year might feel just quirky enough to work today.

What about all the authors who queried for years with the same manuscript? Or who racked up hundreds of rejections on the same manuscript? Surely they requeried at least some of the people on their list?

When does it stop being "perseverance" and become "super annoying"? Or is a very tenacious author who keeps rewriting just actually a really annoying person?

One agent (who I have a lot of respect for, and I am not trying to insult her style or her methods) said that she is absolutely not a fan of the requery. At all. And she remembered someone who queried her (and got a form rejection, by the sounds of it) six years ago. 

Six. Years.

Granted, I would have written about six more novels in that time, and I probably would have been querying one of those instead.

However.

Lots of people say they go back and rewrite their trunk novels. Is it impossible to requery those... ever??? 

And, truth be told, there are times I can't even remember the substance of a book I read six years ago, much less the content of the back cover blurb. How do agents remember that long?

And if they do, is it really in my best interest to be all, "Hey you rejected this once, wanna have another gander?" Or is mentioning a significant rewrite sufficient? What if they don't remember me, am I only making it worse by mentioning that I queried before?

I'm genuinely confused by this. Please help.

3 comments:

  1. I have no idea what agents you are looking at, but these guys, though the response won't be immediate, tend to answer questions pretty thoroughly on their tumblrs. One of the ladies from New Leaf, I think, is totally open to the idea of requerying...but I'm not positive. If you find out more about this I am also interested!
    http://newleafliterary.tumblr.com/

    http://hannahbowman.tumblr.com/

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  2. I haven't queried enough to really have a say in this, but my *thought* on it is, if I got PERSONAL feedback from the agent, and they liked PART of the work, I will reply with a thank you and ask, "If I revise, would you mind me sending again?" I did this with two agents on my list already. One said yes, the other said no, but BOTH were very professional about it and did not seem annoyed that I asked. I should mention, the reason I asked was because they are both amazing agents I would *LOVE* to work with, and I *wanted* to requery. I lost the chance with one, but the other is still open to reading.

    Also, a third agent I queried, who never replied with anything, mentioned recently on Twitter that she wanted to see something specific done in my genre. I tweeted her to say my book had that, and that I queried her on *date*, but have made significant revisions, and could I resend? She said yes, and make sure to mention the previous query. So, awesome! I'll also of course mention her tweet and how I think my book fulfills her wish.

    So, I don't think I would requery unless I KNEW that the agent was cool with it. Whether by asking via email, or tweeting them, or if it says on their website. If none of those things work, or they say no, then they wouldn't have looked at it anyway and I haven't hurt my chances by asking. If they say yes, there's a chance they'll see me as being extra careful, and hopefully remember when/if I DO resend.

    Does all that make sense?

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  3. I have a novel I want to re-query someday. I still need to revise a bit, but it was my very first novel to query and I didn't have good beta readers then, and there was a lot I didn't know yet about writing. But I'm confident in the story and want to try again. When I do though, it will probably be about 2 years later.


    With so much time in between, I think it'll be okay for me. There might be a few agents who remember, but I don't think most will. With any agent that showed half an interest back then, I will tell them I'm re-querying, but for most others, I'm not gonna mention it. Since the original writing and query were so bad, I'm sure most agents didn't get past the query or first page.


    I agree that significant changes should be made, and I'd be leery about re-querying anything under a year. But that's why I feel okay with redoing mine after about two years.

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