Monday, April 19, 2010

Post-Publication Thank-Yous

Recently, I came across a rejection I had received from an agency for a book that I subsequently sold and will be published.

I thought about e-mailing her my thanks for her advice. I don't feel a need to "rub it in" so it isn't that. It's that she took the time to make some notes on the standard rejection form that were accurate (actually, several agents suggested the same thing, and they were right). I thought she might like to know she had a positive effect on me.

Would it be wrong to let her know?

This is tricky. Not only because it might appear that you are rubbing it in, but I would also ask if you ever re-queried or resubmitted after making the changes that so greatly helped your novel. Because, in truth, that would probably have been the ultimate thank-you.

That being said, we can’t always worry about how our actions might be perceived by others, only because we can’t always control how others act or the baggage they come to our email with. If you honestly want to thank an agent for the advice she gave you and you know, in your heart, that you’re not rubbing it in, then go ahead and thank her. I’ve received many emails over the years from authors who have thanked me for helping them on their road to publication. I’ve also had many others who have come up to me in person at conferences to thank me. There is definitely a different feel between those who are rubbing it in and those who are truly thankful.

If you are truly thankful, I think it can never hurt to let others know how they’ve helped. If they see it as “rubbing it in” and that was not your intention, then it’s really their loss. Do what you feel it’s in your heart to do.



Donna Lea Simpson said...

"Do what you feel it’s in your heart to do."

Good advice; I'm one of those who always second-guesses herself, and sometimes I wonder, have I taken the spontaneity out of life by worrying about people's perception of me?

Kimber Li said...

"I would also ask if you ever re-queried or resubmitted after making the changes that so greatly helped your novel."

Hmm, that never occurred to me. I would've assumed the person never wanted to see it again, unless they asked or suggested I requery.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Yeah, what Kimber An said. Are there some instances, then, in which it's all right to re-query, even if the agent didn't ask to see it again?

Anonymous said...

For Kimber An and Krista V -- I probably wouldn't resubmit to an agent if they passed once, even if they gave you suggestions. If they wanted to see it again, they'd say so. This is only based on my own experience where I made a fool out of myself taking an agent's "personalized praise" as an invite to resubmit it and got a form rejection.

As far as the OP, I doubt I'd bother with sending a letter saying they helped you. While it'd be a great ice breaker if you met them at a conference or something, I once heard an agent say she forgets her declines the "moment" they leave her inbox. You remember her, she might not remember you, or worse, despite your wording, it may come off like an I-told-you-so.

Kate Douglas said...

Jessica: I know of one author who worked with you on a project for quite some time before moving on to another agent. Eventually, she sold the book after making the move, but to this day will tell anyone who asks (and even those who don't!)that she learned to write because of your help and advice. For whatever reason the relationship didn't work, she values the time you took and spent with her.

And, as far as the questions regarding "re-querying" once an agent has rejected a project and you've rewritten--I would say definitely, yes. If it's an agent you would particularly like to work with, it certainly doesn't hurt to let them know you've taken their advice to heart and wonder if they'd be interested in a second look.

Vivi Anna said...

I second Kate's thoughts.

If you've rewritten there is nothing wrong with resubmitting. In your query letter state that you've rewritten the book based on something the agent said.

It is then up to the agent to request pages or not. If they still say no, it's really no skin off the author's back.

Amy B. said...

On re-querying after revisions, I say yes but with the caveat that some time has passed. And by some time I mean a few months at least. The re-queries that come a few weeks or even only a few days later make me doubt whether the writer took my advice to heart or only did band-aid fixes hoping that would be enough. Of course, I'll still look at it, but it's better to have me looking at it with interest rather than apprehension.

Our agency once put out a call for previously rejected works that had been revised because one agent had been to a conference and had multiple people come up and thank him for his revision advice because they went on to publication and awards. He certainly appreciated the thanks, but a second look would have been welcome.

Mira said...

Well, some interesting questions here about re-submitting, but what struck me most about this post was it's wisdom: 'Do what you feel it's in your heart to do.'

I love what you have to say here. And as someone who can worry about this ad infinitum, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering. No, I didn't resubmit the project since she didn't ask to look at it again. I did appreciate her suggestion and wanted to let her know she was right on the money.

Now, of course, the note has sunk down into the pile of papers on my desk, so when it resurfaces, I'll have to drop her a brief note of thanks. And thank you for your answer.

Anonymous said...

Early in my publishing journey, I tried resubmitting after suggested rewrites. But after perhaps a half dozen tries, I realized that unless the agent asks to see it again, there is *very* little chance he/she will even do a second read.

The Rejection Queen said...

I think you, Nathan whatever his name is, and Janet Reid all suck. Just saying.

Sarah J. MacManus said...

It really would be the ultimate thank you?! Seriously? Better tell Kim then, because I'm forwarding my rewrites to her asap!


In all serious, we've had to drilled into us that no means no and unless we're asked for a resubmit not to presume.

I think that's one of the things that causes most writers to be such depressives and so neurotic about the query letter. We're told that our ms only has once chance in life with a limited number of agents. After that, you may as well call it a fire starter.