Posted on Dec 17th, 2012 | 42 comments
One 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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