Friday, January 12, 2018

Requerying after a major revision

I queried my novel last year to mostly passive passes. Now I'm working on a revision (self-prompted, not an R&R), and I'm wondering how to handle the next round of queries.

For context, here's what I've changed:

Title
Protagonist/focus of the query
Where the book starts, therefore the included pages
About half the plot
What's stayed the same:

The characters, their relationships to each other, and their general situation
Setting
Can I requery the same agents? If so, do I treat it as a revision or a whole new novel? Or should I stick to agents who have not yet heard from me?

Why would you requery agents who've not responded? (I'm assuming that's what you mean by a passive pass.) Are you trying to torment yourself? Stop that! Tormenting writers is MY job, and I'm good enough at it for both of us.

You can requery anyone you want, and you've probably changed enough of the work so it's not going to sound familiar to most of the agents you requery, but again, why would you query them?

You're also assuming that it was the query that gave rise to the rejection. That's not always the case. No matter how well written the query, I'm likely to pass on books I don't think I can sell; books that don't sound fresh and new; books that just don't interest me. None of that can be revised out of a book.


There are a lot of us out there these days. Try some new names and find someone fierce about your work.

16 comments:

Kathy Joyce said...

Thx OP. You saved me asking the same question. Janet's answer applies to me too. Also, I love the dog picture. What a gorgeous animal! (The pic would make a great story prompt.)

Amy Johnson said...

Gorgeous, yes. But yikes! A sharkly puppy indeed.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Can I query that puppy? He’s adorable.

I sort of got to this place with my last book I queried although I had a fair number of full requests and an R&R. I wrote a new book. The other one will be revamped at a later date as I learmed lots from writing it. Maybe try writing a new book instead, OP? Then you really do get to query fresh.

Kathy Joyce said...

E.M., I love this about writer-folk. They say, "Write a new book," like some people say, "Make some fresh toast."

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Kathy I about cried when someone told me to write something new when I was in the query trenches with what I believed was the book . However, once I let go and did it, I felt like the floodgates had opened - such a relief. But it is hard to take the time when you are so dying to make your bones. Now, I have a great back and front log so when the time comes, I will have a career’s worth of material to offer.

Craig F said...

I am sorry, my Queen, but I have to disagree. Six months down any road makes changes. The writer is changed, the agents are changed and the market has changed.

Many agents, now, only respond if their interest is piqued. That mostly means the ease of a sale. Maybe the market is now such that the story might be in vogue. I also hope that the writer has developed some more in the craft. There is always the chance because it is not always about the writing and you never know what other influences might be on an agent's mind at any point in time. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Move on OP but it won't hurt to spend a minute or two to clarify your back trail.

The picture could almost turn be back into a doggie person.

Julie Weathers said...


OP this is a revision, not a new novel. I've changed the title, the names of several characters, much of the plot, cut arcs, added arcs, started in a new place, but my fantasy is still the same book. It just went to writer's boot camp and got in shape.

Query new agents with your shiny new version. Good luck on the new effort.

I love that Husky puppy. Gage the Wonder Dog is guarding my feet, as usual. If my feet are ever attacked, they'll have to get through him first and move his sleeping carcass over. He won't miss a snore.

Craig, this one is for you.

John Davis Frain said...

Is that lil' husky's name Norman?

Cuz he don't even have to bark a response to get you to understand you're not getting past her/him.

Lennon Faris said...

One author's story: she landed an agent with a fantasy story, story wouldn't sell to a publisher. Author changed the protagonist (from a swashbuckling hero to a female side character with a very dark personality). The world and basic plot stayed the same, but the book sold and became a bestseller.

Point: huge revisions still might not technically make the story different, but it might get really different results.

My worry: that the above anecdote is probably the exception to the norm. People *usually* change less than they think they have (speaking for myself). OP, I'm not sending doubt your way, but one year isn't a long time. I wouldn't send those NORMAN agents the revised/ new story right now. I'd keep writing and querying and if you still think the changes are enormous and life-changing in another year, consider sending it then... if you haven't already gotten lots of requests.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Wuff !

Karen McCoy said...

As a woodland creature, I am wondering if this applies when encountering agents in person. I will be volunteering at an upcoming conference where a few of my rejecting agents will be in attendance. A fellow volunteer recommended that I ask if they are willing to see revised pages. But, I'm unsure.

AJ Blythe said...

The query trenches are a deep, dark labyrinth. You can't see what's ahead and you never know if the path you've taken "leads to certain destruction"* or to the castle.

Good luck, OP, whichever way you turn!

*Labyrinth quote - one of my favourite movies

AJ Blythe said...

I might be misunderstanding advice Janet has given in the past, Karen, but you never bring up rejections with agents (especially face-to-face).

Hopefully our Queen will correct me if I am wrong, but I imagine you could wrangle a "work-around" by asking (if you got the chance) a variation of the question the OP has asked, something like "who much would a manuscript have to be reworked before you would accept a requery?" (with no reference to your previous submission).

AJ Blythe said...

**how much (NOT who much)

Colin Smith said...

Not much to say here except that I've added this one to the Treasure Chest "Gems" page.

Karen: I would say you can but ask! Phrased politely, if you can avoid putting any emphasis on the fact the agent rejected your work initially, I'd say give it a shot. Perhaps something like, "I queried you with this a while ago, and since then I've made significant changes. Would you be interested in seeing it again?" The initial rejection is implicit, but you don't draw attention to it. Focus on "Do you want to see my bright shiny new version?" That's my thought. Others may differ. Main thing: be polite and professional.

Karen McCoy said...

Great advice, Colin! Thank you!