Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Can I requery?

If an agent already has rejected a query, is it ever wise to re-guery again, let’s say after two years?

The world can change a lot in that time, and a story that might not have been salable then, might be salable now. I’m thinking specifically of novels about China and things Chinoiserie as China has has been increasingly in the news and public awareness.

 If the answer is yes, how would you go about re-querying: change the title, mention any revisions, or just query like it was the first time?

If the second book of the series is also ready, should that be mentioned too?

Once I've said no, that's usually the end of the line.
I don't say no to things cause they aren't topical; in fact I'm always looking for something that I haven't seen before (ie not topical, not in the news.)

If you want to get on my list of people I'm not happy to hear from again, change the title and fail to mention I've already seen this. Chances are, if you are a good writer, I'll remember you. And I'll wonder if you think I'm an idiot.  I prefer my clients think I'm terrifying, not stupid.

Even if you don't change the tile, mention I've seen this before and you've done some some revising, I'm still not likely to pounce.

This is why you query the next agents on the list. Agents not on your list two years ago might now be looking for hot new thrillers about China.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

In the past I have re-queried agents with projects in different outfits so many times they suggested I register for new school clothes at Walmart.
To my mind, “not you again,” is worse than “not a good fit for me.”
And don’t forget, agents don’t forget.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Write something new. This is the echo of The Reef. Always be writing something new. Put the old thing in a box, and once you land the agent with the shiny new book, then ask about the old book. It's no fun when book one crashes and burns in the query trenches. This is why you always want to have a new book under way.

Though, exhausting your agent list for original book first can be done if you have agents that you did not query the last time.

Good luck.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

I'm surprised that you would remember a particular query after two years. I thought agents - and their assistants - read dozens each day, that most queries are not sox knocker-offers, and that a non standout query could be rejected as much because the agent is swamped as for any other reason?

Craig F said...

The normal model for this is to stash it for your backlist, maybe.

The only exception I can see is with the manuscript wish list. If an agent you queried was torn about leaving your book behind, they will tell you, and now posts for something that sounds like your book, go for it.

I am not sure that will work if you have mistakes like guery in you manuscript. That looks like an unforgivable sin from here.

BrendaLynn said...

Write another, more compelling novel.

Amy Johnson said...

OP: Maybe you'll be able to find a great fit if you consider agents who weren't yet agents two years ago. Wishing you the best!

Kregger said...

@Jennifer Mugrage,

(Trying not to speak out of turn)

I believe an organized agent will have an email on file and their computer will recognize a querier's previous correspondence. Fortunately/unfortunately not a specific query.

I suggest re-querying an agent from the 19th century that requires snail-mail queries. Believe me, it's still better than smock, sorry, smoke signals or pigeon-mail.

a la Hank,


Adele said...

One of the reasons I can't play cards is that I don't remember what was played ... not even earlier in the same hand. But I've seen true card players go over the entire game, card by card, hand by hand, remembering every play. So I'm not surprised Janet, being a true agent, would read a query and say "hmmm...I think it was the spring of '14 ..." and head for her trusty computer file.

As to topicality - I don't know whether that's the goose people think it is. I've heard it takes a couple of years from acceptance to publication, and who knows what relations with China will be like at that point. Maybe people will be fed up with hearing about China, or, if there's a serious change in how we see China, your book might be considered dated.

So, yeah, write another one, and keep this one for when your next one is a best-seller and they want to publish your trunk books.

Adele said...

And oops, I forgot to say - query another hundred of the agents who haven't seen your book yet. You never know.

Elissa M said...

If the rejection was due to a poor query, it's easy to think you just need to send a better query. But you never really know if that was the problem or not--which is why most writers query in batches of five or ten agents. If they get nothing but crickets, they can assume a tweak of the query might be in order. Even after a query revision, however, one should continue down the list and not requery the original project to an agent who already passed.

As Janet said, whether or not a story is topical has little to do with the reason(s) an agent passed, and short a major rewrite, it's probably not worth the time and effort to query again with the same project (even if there's little time or effort involved). It truly is better to query with an entirely new work and save the original for after you've signed with a good agent.

AJ Blythe said...

It's why our Queen hammers home the importance of a good query letter. This is a one shot business.

Jamie McCullum said...

Thanks Janet for answering my question, and thanks everyone for your encouragement and useful comments. I know what to do now: not query any previously queried agents. Find new ones. I did have
a successful query with this book, nine partial requests with several turning into full manuscript requests.
The general consensus seemed to be a good story but no one on the agents' lists would be a good fit. Not quite sure what that meant, but perhaps the timing wasn't right. So I'll try again with a new crop of agents.
Thanks again. Happy Year of the Pig everyone!

marie-jo said...

Can I seek an agent after self-publishing with great reviews from Kirkus?

AJ Blythe said...

Marie-Jo, you can seek an agent, but not for the book/s you've self-published. Query a new ms =)