Should You Re-Query an Agency?

MailOne of the most common questions I receive is, “When is is okay to send another query to an agent who previously passed?”Another is, “If an agent passed on my query, can I send the query to another person at the same agency?”

There are various scenarios to consider, so here’s an overview.

First, whenever you are going to re-query, it’s a good idea to open your letter with a brief mention of your previous interaction with the agent or agency, and an explanation of why you’re writing to them again. (BRIEF.) That way, if your name sounds familiar to the agent, they won’t be sitting their scratching their head trying to figure out why.

Let’s look at some different situations.

Sending the same query to a different agent at an agency that already passed:

  • Most agencies address this in their submission guidelines. At many agencies, they prefer you don’t re-query, because the agents share information with each other. My general advice, however, is that it can’t hurt, as long as you do what I mentioned above—open your letter with a mention of your previous interaction with the agency.

A query to the same agent for a totally different book:

  • Go ahead and re-query, but I recommend waiting three months or more before requerying the same agent with a different book. You don’t want the agent to tire of you or develop an overall feeling of “this writer isn’t right for me.” Mention that you queried before on a different book.

A query for a book that was previously rejected; but you’ve rewritten the book:

  • Did the agent specifically say they’d like to see it again if you make some revisions? Then send it.
  • Did the agent see any pages of the book, or just your query? If they only saw your query, then they weren’t impressed by the concept or the hook, and/or they weren’t impressed with the writing in the query itself. So it’s very likely they won’t be interested, even if you’ve revised the book. Go ahead and re-query if you want, but be sure to revise that pitch in the query letter, since it didn’t work last time. 
  • In all cases where you’ve rewritten the book, go ahead and re-query if you like but be aware that some agents don’t like seeing the same project twice, even if rewritten.

A query for the same book to the same agent; you haven’t revised the book, but you’ve rewritten your query:

  • If your original query included sample pages: I would not suggest requerying. Even if your query was poorly written, the agent also saw your actual writing, and that wasn’t enough to pique their interest. 
  • If your original query didn’t include any sample pages:  Most agents can see through a poorly written query letter, and if it’s something they think they might find interesting, they’ll ask to see pages. If they never asked you to see more, then the query didn’t interest them. Go ahead and re-query if you really want to, but be aware many agents would feel like this is a waste of their time.

I’m on the laid-back side of this discussion. I don’t mind if people re-query as long as they are truly offering me something new and better. Other agents may not like it so much.

Have you ever re-queried an agent or an agency? What happened?

Do you have a project you’ve been wondering if you should re-query? Why? What did you change?

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  • http://deadcember.com MK Becker

    Thank you. I really appreciate your willingness not just to share such information with authors, but to be open yourself to understanding that our skills as writers may occasionally outstrip our social or personal persuasive skills.

  • http://www.gabrielle-meyer.blogspot.com Gabrielle Meyer

    I haven’t re-queried, but this conversation came up yesterday when I was talking to a non-writer friend about the publishing world. I didn’t have a solid answer for her, but now I do!

  • http://www.jennifermhartsock.wordpress.com Jennifer M. Hartsock (@jenmhartsock)

    This was very helpful, Rachelle. Thank you!

    Write well,
    Jennifer

  • http://www.christinarich.wordpress.com Christina

    I’m glad you’ve brought up this subject. I queried a few agents on a project. One I received a resubmittal, another a no-go because of a conflict, one rejection and the rest nothing. After all that, I sold a different project to LIH and then received a full request on the queried project from a different house, one that I’ve been told that if an offer comes I have to have an agent. Since I wasn’t sure of protocol with agents, and know that most do not like re-queries, I decided to wait and see if an offer comes and then act. Not sure if that is the right move, but it’ll give me some more praying time.

  • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com P. J. Casselman

    I can’t answer this question without sounding like I’m whining, so I’ll simply say thank you for the information and go go back to editing my detective novel. It’s a new genre for me, so maybe I’ll have better results.

  • http://dawnall.wordpress.com Dawn Allen

    I’ve never requeried. However, currently I’m revising my YA based on suggestions from an agent who read the manuscript. She did offer to look at it again after I’d revised so I will be doing it for the first time.

  • http://ohsusannah.blogspot.co Celia Jolley

    Very helpful. It’s kind of like asking for another date when you’ve been turned down once already. You gave a glimmer of hope and good advice.

  • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I do have one question – a couple of years ago I queried many agents on a book that I eventually SP’d, and was picked up directly by a publisher after they saw it on Kindle.

    In that quite a bit of time has passed, should I mention that I am re-querying on a different book? Is there a time limit beyond which this is no longer necessary?

  • http://eviemclaughlin.com Evie McLaughlin

    Thanks for the post. I think I’m going to chance a re-query in a couple of cases. I’ve done substantial rewrites after critique advice. I’ve also learned how to write a proper query, again from writer’s workshop advice and Twitter. Likewise my synopsis owes structure to the wonderful Nicola Morgan. So, I feel in the case of an agency I’d really like to be represented by, it’ll be work the chance. They can only say no, after all. Fingers crossed!

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  • http://publishness.blogspot.com/ Angela Brown

    Had to bookmark this one because I hope to enter the query fray – I mean – process and this information will be handy to have at my fingertips for possible re-queries down the line.

  • Roxanne Sherwood Gray

    This is such helpful information. Thanks so much for your willingness to help all writers, not just your clients. I really appreciate you!

  • Jeanne

    I’m with Roxanne. Thanks for sharing your insights for everyone. I had wondered about these questions, so it’s good to have specific guidance. I haven’t begun the query process yet, but I like going into a new phase as prepared as possible. Thanks, Rachelle.

  • http://dianeyuhas.com Diane Yuhas

    I can’t say enough about how appreciative I am of this blog, Rachelle. These are the kinds of things I want to know. As for this post, I haven’t queried much less re-queried, but it is so helpful to learn these things ahead of time. Thank you.

  • http://www.pointdeception.com Jim Gilliam

    Nice post. Whether it is a query or a re-query the number one thing you MUST do is scrupulously adhere to the agent’s submission guideline. These often vary from agent to agent within the same agency. That means actually going to the agency website and looking up the agent’s Bio. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked up an agent that I wanted to query and gone to the agency website to discover that that agent was no longer open for queries.

    Because of the volume of queries they receive agents are very specific about their query process. I’m in the process of submitting query packets for my second novel. Here is an example: “Query first with SASE.” What do you think will happen if you send a synopsis and the first thirty pages in addition to the letter? You guessed it. The agent won’t even read your query letter. Why? You are so unprofessional that you couldn’t even follow her simple instructions.

    The Devil is in the details. Good luck with your queries.

  • http://lindsayharrel.blogspot.com Lindsay Harrel

    I had specifically wondered about querying a different agent at the same agency, so thanks for addressing that!

  • http://myquirkycity.wordpress.com Heather

    Thanks Rachelle, this will be bookmarked when I have a product ready enough to even try to query.

  • http://www.henwoodtitles.weebly.com Brian Henwood

    Before I knew what made a good querry letter, I sent out several querries to a multitude of agents. I figured, play the odds. Ultimately I think this was a bad idea.
    .
    All of them that replied gave me a form letter, save one. She told me my idea was very original but the plot sounded flat.
    .
    She was totally right. The plot did sound flat, which was discouraging because I think the plot is very good, I just wrote a lousy querry.
    .
    My problem is that in order to querry anyone now, it pretty much HAS to be a re-querry since I flooded the market with my horrible first attempt. On the bright side, it has tought me a valuable lesson:
    .
    I spent months writing each of my novels, and years editing, revising, retooling (I still work on them). To spend any less effort perfecting a querry letter is a disservice to my stories.
    .
    Glad to see that some agents are open to re-querries. Hope some of you reading this learn from my mistake.
    .
    Happy Holidays

    • http://www.henwoodtitles.weebly.com Brian Henwood

      Sorry for replying to myself, but I just re-read something you posted a couple of days ago that I wanted to ask about.
      .
      Someone asked how important is marketing your career and not just the one story. You replied it is 100% important that an agent knows you have more to offer than 1 book.
      .
      I’ve read (in several places) that a querry should only talk about the work you are pitching. Do you disagree?
      .
      Should I include a line in my querry that says something about my other novels? What if none of them share the same genre? AAK! I feel the familiar pangs of self-doubt creeping back into my psyche!

      • http://www.pointdeception.com Jim Gilliam

        For what it’s worth I’m busy sending out queries for my second novel and in going back over my query history and subsequent rejections I have finally come to the conclusion that the query letter should be about the current book and only that book. Having said that, I think I’ve come up with a letter that I HOPE (keeping my fingers crossed) is going to work.

        The letter is in three parts:
        Introduction.
        Back cover type blurb.
        Author Bio.

        Here it is:

        I am seeking representation for my completed 80,000-word suspense thriller Tarnished Hero. Tim Kelly’s world is a volatile—and timeless—cocktail of love, greed, honor, betrayal, and revenge.

        In the early 1960’s, Tim Kelly’s Coast Guard career takes him to Galveston. Hoping to put his father’s death at the hands of a union busting thug behind him. Kelly transfers to San Francisco where he meets Brenda Conrad and an overbearing, sadistic executive officer. Given a choice between courts martial and combat duty in Vietnam. Kelly chooses Vietnam. When three of his friends die in a friendly fire incident. Kelly releases his rage in an Air Force officer’s club. Returning to the U.S. with a less than honorable discharge. He embarks on a new career as an undercover narcotics agent. After his rescue from the drug cartel when his cover is blown. He plans to marry Brenda Conrad. Before the wedding can take place. Brenda and her best friend the daughter of the Governor of Texas are kidnapped and spirited to the cartel’s secret island base off the coast of Yucatan. Kelly enlists the aid of a local Mayan rebel leader to find and rescue the two women.

        In addition to guns, drugs, and human trafficking. The powerful Campeche Cartel is heavily engaged in the sale of human organs and tissue on the black market. The director of this branch of the Cartel convinces the leader of the Cartel to engage in germ warfare against their rival cartels. A bitter, discredited, former Army germ warfare specialist becomes the head of the project. He has his own agenda. The release of airborne Anthrax over thousands of tourists attending the San Antonio 1968 World’s Fair.

        Suspense builds like an old Saturday matinee cliffhanger serial as Kelly makes his way through a dark and dangerous labyrinth where a single misstep could be his last.

        My first novel Point Deception won the Texas Association of Authors’ 2012, Best Fiction Award, placed second in the 2012, Stars & Flags War Fiction category, garnered an honorable mention in the 2012, New York Beach Book Festival, and was the number one finalist in the Thriller category in the 2012, National Indie Excellence Awards Competition.

        Thank you for considering my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

        Feel free to use any, all, or none of this in your own queries. Substituting your own novel, protagonist, and Bio of course.

        Happy Holidays Everyone!

  • http://www.readersunbound.com Christina Kaylor

    Thanks, Rachelle, for this post. Two years ago–when I didn’t know what I was doing–I attended a writers’ conference, met with an agent who listened to my confusing pitch, but asked to see pages. I suspect now this was more kindness than interest. Of course, she rejected me. At last I’m getting close to finishing my revisions and had wondered about a query to her agency. Your post has encouraged me to make the effort.

  • http://robinpatchen.com Robin Patchen

    Great advice, Rachelle. I’m wondering about when a writer meets an agent at a conference, and the agent has some general concerns and doesn’t request the book. Should the writer query after addressing those concerns, even if he wasn’t invited to do so? And if so, should the writer mention that he met the agent at such and such conference? Not sure what the etiquette is on that situation.

    Thanks!

    • Ann Averill

      I’ve heard that if you’ve met an agent at a conference,it is always best to remind them of your encounter. The conferences I’ve attended, always offer attendees the opportunity to query any agent at the conference even if you didn’t meet them personally. They often offer submission guidelines for attending agents. Sometimes these specify a time limit on how long after the conference you are free to submit. Most also have you mention the name of the conference in the subject line of your e-query or on the envelope of a traditional submission. Hope that’s useful.

  • http://www.elleblair.com/index.html Elle Blair (@ellblair)

    Rachel,

    Wow. This post is so timely for me. I have been kicking myself for sending a query to Agent A when I actually had a REFERRAL for Agent B.

    Why did I do this incredibly stupid thing?

    Agent B only represents kid-lit and while the ms I’m querying is YA, I also write for adults, so I was thinking I needed an agent who represents both. Therefore, I decided on Agent A, who unfortunately was not interested.

    It made sense at the time, but I don’t think I fully understood the importance of a REFERRAL. Now I certainly do and I desperately want to send my query to Agent B.

    The agency’s website does not specify that you may not query more than one agent but of course I know this is generally frowned upon in the industry. Should I write an introduction that explains why I am resending (even if it makes me sound like an idiot) and send it to Agent B, or should I wait and query her on my next project?

  • Jennie Atkins

    At what point do you follow up or assume the agent is not interested? I had several agents interested in my work at ACFW, but I have yet to hear back from the first agent I sent my work to. I have another agent asking for my full manuscript. What do you suggest?

  • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

    Thank you, Rachelle, for this informative post. It is reassuring as well. I haven’t queried at all yet since my WIP isn’t quite finished. My anxiety level about querying has been quite high. I have been studying everything I can find on how to write an effective query and practicing and practicing writing queries. Your sentence, “Most agents can see through a poorly written query letter and if it’s something they think might interest them, they’ll ask for pages,” was consoling. While I am still going to write the absolute best pitch and query that I can write, your sentence helps alleviate the stress of feeling that if I don’t get the query perfect, the novel doesn’t stand a chance.

    Happy Monday! :)

  • http://www.writewritingwritten.blogspot.com Karen

    I’ve never resubbed the same book, unless asked. Too worried about annoying already overstretched agents!

  • http://www.meghancarver.blogspot.com Meghan Carver

    I have not re-queried for fear of being annoying, but I have wondered about it. Thanks so much for the helpful information, Rachelle.

  • http://talesfromtheredhead.blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

    Thanks for this, Rachelle. I’m still a young padawan,(hush, PJ!)but it makes perfect sense to not requery unless one has done significant work on the rejected book. Even then, I’d give it some deep thought.

  • http://www karen lee hallam

    Wonderful news. I’m at this junction now, having prematurely sent queries over a year ago.
    Since then, I have a completely new query and manuscript, torn apart by several betas, and online critiques, even a new genre. With five new queries out, I now have two full requests. This makes me want to go back and query the agent I queried first–oh, so long ago. Thank you Rachelle!

    • http://www.laurahurlburt.wordpress.com Laura Hurlburt

      Karen,

      I’m curious to know what you decided to do differently (if it’s not too much to ask, that is)?

      Thanks!

      • http://Www.karenleehallam.com Karen lee

        No, it’s not. But the question got me thinking. I suppose, I learned more about writing along the way. With the MS, i rearranged the first chapter. With the query, I focused on what came from the beginning pages and didn’t try to say EVERYTHING in the query–creating confusion. I’m on a phone, about to get real sloppy. We could continue of your on twitter. @ love8rockets -hope this is alright, Rachelle.

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  • http://kristinlaughtin.blogspot.com Kristin Laughtin

    Hmm, in previous posts on this topic, other agents have always suggested not bringing up your first attempt(s) if you are querying an agent with a brand new, unrelated book. The idea was to avoid placing the negative thought of “already rejected this person” into the agent’s head, and that part of the idea of waiting is so the agent would somewhat forget you. Of course it probably varies agent by agent, but any more thoughts on this?

    • http://www.janthompson.com Jan Thompson

      Good question! I’d like to know too. Since agents are readers, don’t they have good memories? Will they hold a bad first encounter against an unpublished writer?

      Perhaps this does support the idea of not querying prematurely. And makes what Rachelle said in the other blog even more important: “Write a great book.”

      Well, I guess I’d better go back to my WIP :-) Merry Christmas!

  • http://www.spursandroses.com Marleen Gagnon

    I recently re-queried an editor 5 weeks after she had turned down a different book. I would not have normally sent something so soon, but the 2nd manuscript was requested at a conference.

  • http://www.hopescribbles.wordpress.com Elisabeth Allen

    Thank you so much for this post. The requery question is one I’ve pondered for a number of years now. Your comments here are really helpful!

  • http://jilldomschot.com Jill

    I have a unique name. I’m the only one out there with it, so it’s memorable. I’ve wondered about this because I’m switching from fiction to nonfiction. I might query some of the same agents (if they happen to rep nonfiction). By the time I get around to it, they might have forgotten even my unique name, though.

  • http://Www.eseckman.blogspot.com Elizabeth Seckman

    I query you about once every two years. One day I will write something that suits.
    It’s your patience I find most appealing. ;)

  • Kelly

    I queried an agent and was turned down. During #pitchmas (twitter), I was asked to send my query and first 50 pages of my MS to an agent at the same agency as the one who turned me down. After receiving advice from #askagent I have sent the material and have all my fingers crossed!

    (LOVE that you help us poor writers out on twitter!)

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  • http://www.fantasyscroll.com Iulian Ionescu

    Great advice for a beginner who is sitting on two novels in the polishing phase. The process of querying is so scary, I am almost postponing it. I realize it’s silly, but… Anyway, thanks for this post. It has been bookmarked for when the time comes :)

    Iulian

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  • Cindy

    I also disagree with the advice about mentioning previous rejected queries, Agents receive hundreds–thousands–of queries in a year and the chances that they’ll remember your name from many months or years prior seems unlikely. If, on the other hand, an agent had requested a partial or full from you, I’d definitely mention that.

    One of the toughest issues about requerying is when you haven’t heard from an agent who normally responds. The response time feature on Query Tracker is invaluable. I wound up re-querying an agent who typically responds within a month when I hadn’t heard from her in two months (acknowledging in parentheses that it was a requery in case she hadn’t received the first.) I quickly received a full request, and she’s now my agent. So I highly recommend doing your research before deciding whether to requery in case of a no-response. It’s clear that emails do go astray, and it can be worth it (unless the agent specifically states s/he is a non-responder! In that case, you’d be a pest.)

  • http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/ Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

    I enjoyed the advice in the article! This was my experience: I queried my agent with a teen novel and she passed on it but left me a personal note as to why. I felt encouraged by this.

    A few months later, I queried her with a different novel, this one a middle-grade book (my preferred genre).

    I did mention to her that I had queried her before and she’d passed on the book. I let her know I was sending something very different.

    She asked me for the full manuscript and signed me as a client! She sold that manuscript in a four-book deal to HarperCollins Childrens. In fact, the deal was announced today in Publishers Weekly.

    I’m a debut author from the slush pile! Truth is, agents want to say yes. They reject projects, not authors. I like to think my re-query with something new showed my strength, not my weakness. I had taken her rejection well and I think agents like to work with authors who have a thick skin. We need it in this business!

    Good luck to everyone–never give up! It was my fifth book that finally made it!

    Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

  • Lauren Nicolle Taylor

    I’m considering re-querying an agent. She requested the full MS last year. She said she enjoyed it, that it would be a good fit but there were some issues to work on which she clearly set out for me. She said she could not offer representation at that time. She didn’t invite me to revise and resubmit but it’s been a year and I have done extensive rewrites as per her comments. What have I got to lose??

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