Posted on Aug 25th, 2011
One of the most common questions I receive is, “When is is okay to send another query to an agent who previously passed?” Sometimes people are talking about re-sending a query for the same book that was already queried; the writer has either improved the query or improved the book and wants another shot. Other times, the question is referring to the timing on sending a different book to an agent that previously rejected a project. So here are my thoughts.
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, 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.
A query 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.” Give them time to forget your last query! But still, 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 yes, of course, 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. Take the chance but keep your expectations realistic.
- Did the agent see a sample of your writing? If so, then make sure you’ve done all you can to bring the overall level of writing up before you re-query. Look very closely at those first few pages; get outside feedback.
- 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, you haven’t revised it, 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. I’d say you’ve lost your chance with this project and this agent.
- 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, but if you’re convinced you did a really bad job with that first query letter and that your new one captures your book much better, go ahead and re-query but be aware many agents would feel like this is a waste of their time. If you requery, open your letter with something like, “I previously queried you on this book but you passed; however, I’ve learned so much more about how to pitch my book and I don’t believe my previous query adequately captured it. I’d like to try again.” The worst they can do is click delete without responding. It’s worth a shot… but only if your first query truly didn’t capture your book.
I’m kind of 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.
Do NOT requery the same project with the same query letter. And as you no doubt know by now, please don’t respond to pass letters with a request for a reason, a referral, or more info from the agent. These emails will be deleted without a response by almost all agents.
Have you ever re-queried an agent? 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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