Case 1: Strike up a conversation with author at a conference, and agent happens to be standing nearby. Recognize name tag as an agent who rejected.a)No
Do you a) casually mention the rejection if it comes up in conversation, with a quick (and honest) no hard feelings, this is a business, and then continue to other topics? Or is it wiser not to bring up the rejection at all?
Unless you are wearing your email address as a nametag, I probably won't remember you queried me. I certainly won't remember passing. That's why I always laugh to myself when someone reminds me they have already been rejected. They've shut the door on any interest in their work, should we get on to that topic later, and they've mortified me. I don't like rejecting work. I don't like making authors feel bad. I HATE to be reminded of it in a social situation. Hate to the point that, for a while, I made my minions wear my name tag.
Here's the standard: never mention rejection in a social conversation with an agent. Not now. Not ever. Never.
Should the topic arise when it's a business situation, that's different. What's a business situation? We're at a writing conference talking about your work. We're on the phone discussing representation.
We're in the visiting room at Rikers discussing bail.
Think of it this way: when you tell me I passed on your query, what are you hoping I'll say?
Golly, I'm an idiot, please resend (I don't remember you or your query.)
I know, the writing was just awful, are you still stumbling along? (we are not characters in The Nanny Diaries)
Or are you just hoping to embarrass me, cause if you are, check the box. I'm totally mortified. GREAT way to start off a social conversation!
Case 2: At an author event, author encourages you to approach agent and strike up conversation, and even ask if you can query. Agent says yes, please query, and tells you to make sure you mention said event. You agree--only to get home and realize you did query this agent, and you forgot they rejected.
Do you a) query anyway, mentioning the event, but not the previous query, especially since the novel has changed significantly since the original query? or b) just move on, and don't query at all?
The author erred in encouraging you to ask to query.
You erred in not realizing the author was wrong.
In any social situation (and an author event is a social situation) asking if you can query is a misstep. If the agent has some particular interest she'll let you know.
Bottom line: You don't need permission to query. You do not have to ask if you can query.
Even though you've already queried and the agent said no, you've now got this polite "sure, send." It won't kill anyone (except Miss Manners) if you follow through with a query. As the agent instructed , make SURE you say at the top of the query "as per our conversation at the Kale Club Bar & Boozefest with Felix Buttonweezer" here's my query.
Do not expect different results from the first query.
None of this stuff is anywhere near asshattery.
It's the warp and weft of pitching, selling and navigating the unknown shoals of publishing deportment. You'll never go wrong, truly wrong, if you're paying attention. (Reading this blog means you're paying attention)
Writing contest this weekend!