Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Resubmissions and ReQueries

Regularly I am asked about the etiquette of resubmitting work to an agent, but lately, with my query critiques, I am also being asked about the etiquette of requerying the same book (now that you have a better idea of how to pitch).

I’ve told you stories of clients who were rejected by me at one time and later, with another work, offered representation. But what about resubmitting the same work? Off the top of my head I can only think of one client who resubmitted work and became a client based on that resubmission, and that particular client did extensive revisions based on my rejection letter. The truth is that even with a bad pitch it’s probably pretty likely that I am able to see something in your query that would make me ask for more. I’m not a complete dolt, you know. But if your pitch seems boring, typical, or just doesn’t inspire me and the writing in your query doesn’t grab me, then it’s unlikely I will ask to see more.

If you have truly done extensive, and I mean massive, revisions to both your query and your work, go ahead and resubmit. However, take note that in this case I’m not going to tell you that you have nothing to lose, because in fact that’s not the case. When you make the decision to query an agent, I expect that you’ve put that book to bed. In other words, Book #1 is now sitting safely on a shelf next to your computer waiting for Wise Agent to call and request the full. It’s shiny, it’s bright, and it looks beautiful. In the meantime you’re whiling away your time, in between query letters and agent research, of course, writing Book #2. In fact, you’re so busy on Book #2 you haven’t even had time to think about Book #1. If you keep sending me Book #1, I worry that you’ve got nothing else in you, and that’s not a client I want either.

I know how difficult it can be when the rejections start rolling in. Hey, I get them too, remember. But the truth is you really do have one shot. I have one shot, and that’s why it can take me all day to write a pitch letter or query letter to editors, and I do this all the time. So the best thing you can do is make your work, including your pitch and your letter, the best it can be the first time around. And then, and here’s the really hard part, put it out of your head. Work on the second book and the second pitch and query. Make them even stronger.