Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Thoughts on Re-Pitching Agents

I’ve always taught that if you have made significant changes to your book for one reason or another you should definitely consider re-pitching agents. I’m sure there are plenty who cringe when hearing me give that advice, but the truth is, what do you really have to lose? The one thing that always strikes me, however, when I read the comments to those types of posts is how pleased authors are, and that worries me just a little, tiny bit. What it makes me wonder is are you continuing to rework and re-pitch the same book over and over or have you moved on. I will tell you right now, if you don’t learn to move on, to write the next book and query the next book and write and query the next book after that you will never be published.

No agent and no publisher wants an author for only one book, and if you spend years reworking and re-pitching that same book you’re not making yourself a very marketable or publishable author.

So yes, while you can certainly re-pitch if you’ve done work, the key to success is forward momentum. Make sure you’re headed in the right direction.



Scott Daniel said...

Good information, Jessica. Thank you, as always. It almost sounds like you should have several manuscripts in the "can" before you start pitching.

Aimlesswriter said...

"the key to success is in forward momentum"
Great quote! I think I might have to ingrave that on my brain.

Mira said...

This is really interesting, Jessica. Thanks.

I really like the idea of forward motion. I especially like the focus on writing. I think the query process and trying to get published can stall people, and they stop continuing to develop their talents.

I also think some writers get discouraged when they realize just how competitive the field is. This keeps people looking ahead, and seeing rejection as just one step in the process.

Stina said...

I'm still nervous about re-pitching. I recently made some major changes to my ms. But that's because an agent wanted to see it again if I did that. And the ms is much improved because of her suggestions. I also sent it out to another agent who recently requested a full. Meanwhile, four others had rejected the lamer version but had really enjoyed the concept.

So should I re-pitch it to those other four agents? I decided not to. In several months, my new novel will be completed, and I'll be ready to query those agents with something new. Hopefully they'll be as interested in this one as they were initially with the other one.

Kate Douglas said...

Every published author has at least a few unsold manuscripts hidden under the bed, and they make great doorstops.

Point being, with every new project you start, you open yourself up to learning more and improving your craft, and possibly discovering an entirely new genre where you can blossom as an author. Jessica's post is an important one--re-pitching is good, but starting something entirely new can be an even better career move.

Rebecca Knight said...

This is great advice! I'd been wondering this same thing, about if it's ever kosher to do that. Thanks for this post!

I've started my next book and am moving on while I get ready to query this one. I believe you're absolutely right--if this one isn't the one that gets published I'll be ready with the next. And the next. Until it happens :).

Writers have to be in it for the long haul. Here's a link to a John Scalzi post from the other day on this topic. It's pretty damn funny, but also provides some much needed perspective:


Sarah J. MacManus said...

I'm in the middle of three different projects, all at different stages of development. Kind of like kids. I'm not going to give up on the first one, but I still have to raise the other two in the meantime.

Hepius said...

Should you write in your query that it is a re-pitch? Or not mention it at all? Three years have passed since I pitched my novel. It has significantly improved since then.

Stephanie said...

Love this Fawn:

Kind of like kids. I'm not going to give up on the first one, but I still have to raise the other two in the meantime.

That is it exactly!!! I write, i edit, I perfect, I query. But while I'm waiting, I start on something else. And if I get all rejections, I shelf it and work on somehting else. Then if I get stuc on a current WIP, I go back and rework something old. Or after I finish a project I go back. Letting it sit helps.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I certainly agree--working on the same project instead of starting something new isn't the way to improve, or to have a healthy career. I think part of the relief, though, may come from writers who pitched too early, and have improved since then, and like the idea of one of thier earlier manuscripts and can execute it better now than at the time they queried.

Leona said...

Thanks Jessica!

I'm with Kristin. It's the idea that I sucked at queries and have not only improved my query, but have improved my manuscript and my understanding of genres that causes relief for me.

My query letter writing was so bad last year that I would get better results saying I hadn't started it yet! At least no-one would have died of disguted laughter :)

No-one would recognize the story from my initial query letter, which is good since I don't remember who all I pitched. (It wasn't many as I realized quickly the query needed work.

I moved on and wrote other books, one of which is published. However, I really like the premise of the other and would like to go over it with the distance of time and make a go of it.

Thank you for your helpful posts.

Aimee Laine said...

Thank you for your insight! That's the answer i have been looking for! Or, should I say "answers". :) Thanks!

Betsy Ashton said...

I am working on the first in a series and continue to polish book one. I have book two in draft and work on it when I need a break. I draft a novel in broad brushes, akin to Natalie Goldberg's WRITING DOWN THE BONES. I keep the first work in the forefront, however, and edit, rewrite, and review comments from my critique group. When I feel it's "ready," I have a trusted critic who gives me unvarnished advice. I take it and then re-enter the query game. I do repitch agents who have made suggestions but who didn't feel the work was finished. And I state that in my query letter. So far, I have one agent who has requested the first 50 pages of the rewrite. And he was one of the kind agents who took time to provide input. Fingers crossed, although it's hard to type.dhfpsdueeejpdoupu

Lesli/Ainsley Macqueen said...

I know you probably won't get this, Jessica, but this blog really rang a bell in my head. The term "moving on" in my universe meant letting go. In this post I can finally see it as movement.

I have a great story out there, being considered by some heavy hitters, but I also have other stories others are waiting for. I can now move on to those without feeling as if I have left a child by the side of the road.

Thanks so much!