So let’s say you wrote a book and it made the rounds, but it was rejected. You got some feedback, rewrote it, but it was still rejected. Then you got some more (but more extensive) feedback from a publisher and suddenly you had a light bulb moment and figured out how to take elements from the old novel and reimagine it completely, would this still be considered the same book? So basically what I’m asking is, at what point (if any) does a previously shopped manuscript become a new novel - i.e. if you write a new book based on elements from an old book that made the rounds, is this still considered a previously shopped work and would you have to disclose it as such when querying agents? I know if you make some rewrites it would be considered the same book, but what if you reimagined the book so extensively, it becomes a new product?
Here's the bottom line: it's not illegal or unethical or immoral to repurpose your work, slap on a new title (that's key) and send it out in the world again to find gainful employment. There's no magical makeover number that makes it "new" and it doesn't need to be all new to go out.
My ONLY concern when you query is whether I like and think I can sell this project you're now querying.
If that project started life as something else, well, we all grow and change as we figure stuff out!
If you queried me on the previous iteration, and I passed, you'd do well to not start by requerying me (or others who have passed.) Start fresh. Give your ms a chance to find friends.
Your unspoken assumption here is you don't want to end up on some sort of agent blacklist. You are in ZERO danger of that if you query politely, even for a novel with hand me down elements.
There are a couple ways to be irrevocably banned from my query inbox. In case you're wondering, they are:
1. Be rude or condescending about my assistants/interns.
2. Be snotty about my clients or their work
3. Tell me I lack taste and refinement. You're free to ignore books that have garnered starred reviews and positive critical attention but if you think I'm a dodohead, why did you query me at all? Oh wait, YOUR book is the gold standard for taste... how could I not have realized that. Perhaps I am a dunderhead.
4. Query for the same project over and over. No title change, no revision, no change at all.
Notice you're not even close to #4 here.
You now must worry about something else, cause this concern is off your list. World peace, rising sea levels and what would happen if sharks disappeared are always choices for fretting.