Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Query Question: previous agent shopped earlier version of my novel

When I query an agent regarding my novel, am I obligated to disclose that my then-agent pitched it to a number of publishers unsuccessfully ten years ago, even though it has been substantially rewritten since then?

If a manuscript has been previously shopped, it may affect whether the agent wants to read it. I've taken on previously shopped manuscripts, so it's not an instant deal breaker, but if I were to find out AFTER I'd read something that it was a revise/resubmit, I'd be more than a little unhappy.

And this is not something you want to finesse either. Many of the editors I work with regularly have been at their current job for ten+ years, and they remember stuff like you would not believe.

My next question is why aren't you working on something else?  It's MUCH better to query new work, and have your R&R novel as back up for the second book of a two book deal.


Anonymous said...

Even more modifications to the *new* site. If this is a restructuring of the JR blog, I'm loving the *new* format.

As for the question of the day, I loved the last part of the answer. I have two other completed novels aside from my current/newest work. The first, went on submission almost three years ago.(March 2012) No sale. The second ms I put aside, although I was offered the choice of putting it out on submission under a psuedonym. Like you said, editors remember a LOT, and my agent said, "it's too soon for another book by Donna Everhart," even though a year had passed. Another lesson learned.

Anyway, what I love is that both books might have a chance - even the one that's been on submission. I think the only stickler would be it's a complete 180 genre wise compared to the current work. The second one with some editing might not be a bad second book in a two book deal. Something for me to think about. (make that dream about)

Colin Smith said...

Oh yes--I like this re-design of your site, Janet (AKA my second home). :)

Can I also say, while I'm off-topic, how amazed I've been at how popular your site is given the very basic look it has had for so long. Not only does that fly against conventional wisdom (i.e., a blog must be "beautiful" to attract readers), but it underscores the importance of substance over style. Your blog is popular because you have important things to say, and you say them in a way that is engaging and entertaining. And guess what? People line up in droves to read it.

Anyway, I like the makeover. But whatever you do, don't change the content. That's what I really come her for. :)

Craig F said...

The way that I read the question is that this is a vanity project. The industry isn't doing a lot of vanity projects. That is what self publishing is for.

Even if you find an agent who is interested they will ask questions. Those questions will have to do with where you are going from that book or what else you got?

I don't think you have the answers to those questions .

I do also like this direct layout.

Colin Smith said...

I re-read my comment, and I just want to clarify something:

This SITE is my second home... :)

Janet Reid said...

Colin, I think your first comment is clear. And if you want to live in my office, well, no problem. We've got a spare file drawer. :)

Colin Smith said...

@Janet: Cool! Next time I'm in NY, I'll bring a pillow. :)

Elissa M said...

A lot of writers put so much into their first "real" novel, they can't let it go. They may even have a trunk full of finished and half-finished work, but THIS one is The One. They're not thinking about What Comes Next.

What I want to tell them is, don't panic. Don't feel you've "wasted" months, years, maybe even decades on a work you're being told to set aside. The key words are, "for now".

Every bit of writing you do, the good stuff and the crappy stuff, makes you a better writer in the long run. No time is ever "wasted" on writing, whether or not you ever sell a single thing.

Write another book. You can always come back to the first one.

french sojourn said...

You realize it took me two days before it sunk into my melon that your site changed. I thought my computer was having a hard time loading the background.

* Goes out on the roof and fiddles with the tubes and wires that signals up his rotary phone. "Mable get me Rosie at the county switchboard." *

Really like the new design. Very zen meets "this just in"


cheers Hank.

Ardenwolfe said...

This is a little off topic, but I'm not crazy about the background color change.

Rather . . . blinding.

Kitty said...

Ardenwolfe, I had the opposite reaction. I find the neutral background allows the posts to stand out by comparison.

Lilly Faye said...

Janet, I'm a big, big fan of your blog. I read it every day, and nothing will change that.

However, I must say, I do prefer a bit of color. This new white on gray scheme looks too institutional. It reminds me of the vet's office, which makes me nervous.

Lilly Faye Poodle

Janet Reid said...

It's either plain or a riotous burst of red and pink. I'm choosing plain.

Colin Smith said...

I don't see it as "plain"--more a battle-shark grey. :)

Amy Schaefer said...

You can't please everyone, not even with a blog background color. Is it any wonder that matching a writer with the right agent is so difficult? Or a manuscript with the right editor?

I, too hope the questioner is writing new things. Hopefully this is just the resurrection of an old project, and s/he has had other things going on in the meantime.

Colin Smith, get out of my file drawer. You can sleep beside the extra toner in the supply closet.

Colin Smith said...

Amy: I tried there, but it's full of whiskey bottles and Jack Reacher novels... :)

AJ Blythe said...

Am I missing something? Has more than just the colour change? Guess I'm too focussed on the wise words of QOTKU to have paid attention to anything else. Will try and be more attentive!

Amy Schaefer said...

Colin: work, work, work. You just give those to me - I'll give them a good home.

Colin Smith said...

Amy: How about we split them? I don't need that much room... :D

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

It's all that color on her walls at home, needs hue-break at work.

Colin, I'll take the top drawer, (somewhere between Aardvark and asshole), because I AM top drawer :) Yuk, Yuk !