Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Can I resend the query with revised pages?

After about two weeks of sending queries, I've gotten a couple personalized responses from agents who love my concept and didn't love the first chapter. So, I decided to see what the book would look like if I started the story a couple chapters later. I cut the first few chapters, and tested the new opening on a handful of betas (about 6). The response was enthusiastic.

Which brings me to my question: I still have about 15 queries outstanding, some to agents who I think would be a particular fit. Do I have to leave them alone and just hope they see something they like in the original sample, or can I follow up with the new chapter?

I obviously wouldn't bother agents who already sent a form reject, but for those still considering my work, is it bad query etiquette to say "I had an ah-ha moment! Please consider this chapter instead of the formerly-sent one."

I don't want to miss out because of an opening I don't feel any attachment to, but I also don't want to irritate agents.

Additional context: A number of the outstanding queries are requests from the #DVPit Twitter pitch contest, so I already know the concept resonates with those agents (which makes it feel more dire that I get them the best first chapter I can).

I always want to see your best work.
Therefore, I would rather have you let me know you've revised/improved, than not.

Even if I didn't feel that way, what's the worst thing that could happen here? You'd hear no twice, or more likely silence times two.

There's zero downside to letting an agent know you've revised as long as she has not already said no, nor the query window (30 days on those foul no response means no) has closed.

This does not mean you get to tinker endlessly. You get one revision here.

The revision you mention changes ALL of the pages you sent. If you are just moving words here and there, or punctuation, don't send new pages. If you're fixing mistakes like homonyms, then do.

Any questions?


Amy Johnson said...

About two weeks of querying, and you've gotten personal responses? Wow, seems you're off to a good start, OP. I hope things continue going well for you!

BrendaLynn said...

Good luck on the queries OP. You and I may be writers with the same issue, namely stamping ‘The End’ on the book.
I recently attended a conference wherein a panel speaker was asked, “How do you know when your book is ready to be published?”
Her answer? “You don’t.”
Every revision I’ve written to date has been THE ONE in my mind. Given that I’m a rank green-apple-two-step author, and given that, at some point, my characters will rebel, I’m still hoping to eventually put my last book to bed.
Will I ever get enough experience to recognize finished when I see it?
Did Charlotte gasp from her deathbed the pithy comment that she should have had Heathcliff say?
Did Will later regret not having given Ophelia swimming lessons?
Did Dr. Suess wake up one morning, smack his forehead, and say, “Of course, it’s green eggs and JAM.”
I’m moving on to the next book out of a need to escape my previous characters as much as a need to write the new ones. If I ignore them for long enough maybe they’ll shut up and go home. I can only hope.

BrendaLynn said...

Make that Emily. See? I can’t even leave a post alone.

Theresa said...

I'm intrigued by the issue in OP's query, which Janet referenced by describing "best work": how do you know where the story starts?

John Davis Frain said...

BrendaLynn, you're cracking me up. That's how editing goes. How do you know when a comment is finished? When you hit Send, I guess. Alas, sometimes it's still not even finished after you hit the send bu

John Davis Frain said...


Okay, it's actually a "Publish Your Comment" button.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

I know how you feel, OP. Good luck. Send your best work forward. I think most agents don't mind. I am anxious about revisiting the query trenches as I am finishing up the last hamster wheel spinning torment over my book. I think I am overthinking the whole get the book perfect thing.

I have recently realized getting the book "perfect" is impossible. With every revision, it gets better and better but it's never exactly right. Not really. And if you keep waiting for the book to be perfect, it never goes out into the trenches. So maybe it is better, OP, that you got into the trenches before you realized you needed a tweak here and there. At least you are out there. Because until you send you book forth into those dread trenches, you can't get an agent and a book deal. And that's a long shot even if you're books the cat's freaking meow because if the Duchess of Yowl is in one of her moods, the agent will pass just the same. Good luck.

RachelErin said...

Green eggs and jam! I love toast and jam with scrambled eggs on top. Thanks for the laugh.