Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Resubmissions

I got an e-mail today from a writer I had just rejected. She thanked me for my letter and asked if I would be willing to take a look at her WIP (work in progress), and I was thrilled.

With the increase in form letters, my biggest fear is that I’ll see a decrease in resubmissions. I know I’ve said this before, but a number of my clients were previously rejected, and because of that I know firsthand that a rejection means nothing. Unless I tell you that what you’re writing does not fit the type of books BookEnds represents, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t keep trying, just like there’s no reason I won’t keep trying to sell the work of my clients.

So if you meet an agent, or read her Web site, and truly feel that the two of you would be a good fit, don’t hesitate to continue submitting to her. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should put all your eggs in one basket. Obviously you should also be submitting to other agents. Since you never know when your next book or idea will suddenly be the perfect fit, it never hurts to keep trying.

—Jessica

20 comments:

Sam said...

Thanks for pointing this out - I think most authors believe that a rejection means 'don't bother submitting again'.
Do you think that a note on the end of a rejection letter saying, "We'd be happy to see more of your work," might make it clearer?

BookEnds, LLC said...

Sam:

Yes, certainly we could add that statement to the bottom of every rejection letter, but then I think it loses it's impact. There are submissions I read that I truly connect with--I either love the author's voice or ideas or both, but for some reason just didn't feel I could offer at this time. In those cases I will ask to see future works. I'm afraid letting everyone know that I would be happy to see more would be misleading. While I do suggest that authors feel comfortable to resubmit because you never know, there are a lot (and keep in mind I get hundreds of submissions each week) that I feel are years down the road until they will be ready.

I also want to keep the power of that statement. When I ask to see future works it's because the author is very, very close. Just not there yet, but that next work, or a quick revision might be it.

--jhf

Kimber An said...

I haven't had this experience with Bookends yet. But, I am one of those who sees little point in submitting to an agent who has already rejected my work. To me, a rejection means my style is not compatible with what the agency represents. If that's a mistaken assumption, I hope agents will consider jotting a short note on the rejection letter. Something like, "Great voice. Send us the next thing." Or, something to that effect.

Demon Hunter said...

Jessica,
I think that some writers feel like they've been rejected and not their work, which may keep them from resubmitting. I think that when writers read agent's blogs and other resources, it gives them a better sense of what is acceptable. Thanks for your blog!

Christa M. Miller said...

What had you just rejected her on - a partial, or a full? I'm just wondering why she felt comfortable asking you to look at her WIP, when that goes so against the grain of what we're told to finish our works before shopping them.

Dee S. Knight said...

I'm so glad to see this blog. It's scary submitting your work in the first place, and doubly so to resubmit. This is especially true if the rejection is on a full submission.

Dee

Laura K said...

Jessica -

I'm so glad you said this. I'll freely admit to being one of those who you've rejected in the past (though not, as far as I could tell, with a form letter) and I've been wondering what that meant about future submissions. I was actually about to write to her Snarkiness Miss Snark and ask!

And, actually, that brings up another thing I'd like to know...how "form" are your form letters? That is, if someone gets one, will they know up front that it's a form letter?

--Laura

1blkquill said...

This is good to know. Thanks for the motivation. I never considered resubmitting something thats been rejected by a particular agent/editor but now it's onnnnnnn!

The Novelist said...

Jessica,
Thanks so much for posting this!I've been wondering about it myself. I admit that I was one of those you rejected as well (also, not with a form letter) and this does give me hope! I only hope this doesn't see your inbox full of queries for "can you look at my partial?"....

Omar Cruz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BookEnds, LLC said...

Let me clarify. I wouldn't recommend submitting the same project unless you've been asked specifically to do so. However, submitting other works is acceptable.

Bella Andre said...

I've said this before, but Jessica initally rejected a category proposal she'd requested off a query--but I'm the kind of person who is always looking for the nice thing someone says about my writing, so I took the "I'd love to see future proposals" sentence very seriously. And when I contacted her about "Take Me" (which Pocket snapped up), she told me she read it extra fast because I was on her radar from before. In fact, she still remembers my category submission well.

My advice--if they say, "send me other stuff" they mean it, so do it!

Author Dara Edmondson said...

I am most apt to resubmit to an agent who has requested a partial or a full from me on a previous work. Let's face it - this business is so subjective. If an agent connects with your work enough to request more, they recognize some merit there. That's the person I'll concentrate my efforts on again.

jolinn said...

I just had that same experience with a publisher. They didn't accept my revise and resubmit, but they invited me to send future work. I like them and I will...but is it too much to submit the rejected work somewhere else in the hope it'll sell? Or just focus on my current WIP?

Cole said...

Hi Jessica!

I have a question with a slight twist to the resubmitting. I understand and totally appreciate the 'don't resend a work that has already been turned down unless its been requested' rule but I'm wondering about before you actually receive the R.

For example, say 6 agencies were queried, 4 requested more material, all four gave R's, 2 still have not responded but you know from past experience both places take a long while to do this anyhow. In the meantime you analyze, learn and suddenly realize you're missing a main ingredient to your first chapter. For example, you have the external conflicts but somehow have missed showing the internal well enough to be identified(big whoops!)... You rework it.

Now obviously you can't resubmit it to the first 4 agencies who've turned you down BUT can you submit it to the other two who have not yet responded, noting in the query letter your reason for sending them a new copy? Or is this just a really bad idea?

Thank you for your time! I have learned so much from this blog!

Cole

BookEnds, LLC said...

Jolinn:

That depends on your feelings. You're going to get rejected in this business and every agent and every editor has rejected books that have sold and rejected authors who later have had great success--more about that later. But you need to go with your gut. If you truly believe you could still find an agent for that first book then ignore those rejections and keep going, but if you feel your WIP is much, much stronger and when looking back on the first book truly believe you aren't going to find someone for it, that it's not as strong as it needs to be than feel free to put it aside. I wouldn't, however, base a decision solely on the fact that a few said no.

--jhf

BookEnds, LLC said...

Cole:

I have to say that personally I don't allow authors to resubmit material that I currently have under consideration. It just makes for a tracking nightmare for me and my assistant. My theory is that once you submit your material it better be your best work because that's it. Instead of trying to rework the same book why don't you take what you've learned and apply it to your next book. I think you'll have better luck and the distance from the first work might do you some good..

However, other agents might feel differently so it can't hurt to drop an email and ask.

Remember, you can't sell everything. You can always go back to it, but the goal is to keep moving forward.

--jhf

Cole said...

Thanks Jessica for your time in answering my question! I really appreciate it.

Cole

jolinn said...

thank you also. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I came upon this. I submitted two (requested) manuscripts a few years ago, both of which were rejected. I've just finished a third and now know that it's okay to approach you about the third.