Monday, September 14, 2009

To Re-query or not to Re-query That is the Question

I was speaking to a writer friend the other day who is in Query Hell with me, and she was wondering if she should re-query a particular agent.

Now, giving the situation, I am firmly in favor of re-querying certain agents. Here are my criteria:

1) Have you made SIGNIFICANT changes to your manuscript since you first queried this agent?
2) Has it been more than a few months, (better if it was like a year or close to it) since you last queried this agent?

3) Or is it a NEW/ANOTHER agent at an agency you’ve already queried?

When I’m able to answer yes to one or all three of these, I re-query.

Example: I submitted Light Bringers (at 100k words) to KT Literary back in September 2008. I was rejected at query level. I got an AWESOME beta, cut it down to 78k and re-queried in March 2009. From that I got a request for a partial, then a request for a full. It was ultimately a pass, but I had obviously done something between tightening up my query letter and shaving off nearly 30k words that got her attention.

And just the other day, I re-queried an agent who rejected me 8 months ago with a—no reply means no—rejection, but I just got a request for a full from that. So I say RE-QUERY!!!

As for the third point, I only query a new/another agent at an agency I’ve queried before when:
A) The new/another agent reps what you write (that really goes without saying, but I’m saying it).
B) And most importantly, if the agency DOES NOT have a policy against querying more than one agent at the agency. I don’t mean querying more than one agent simultaneously—like my little snafu a while back—I mean if they do not say, “A no from one of us is a no from us all,” then I would re-query.

Here is another example of where this worked for me-lol. I’ve queried just about every agent at Writers House. It’s a big house like Curtis Brown (queried a few there too) so it’s not likely that my submission would be passed around and then declined as a group effort.

First I queried Jodi Reamer back in 2008—got rejected. Then I went through the massive rewrite and queried Maya Rock—got rejected there too. Then I queried Merrilee Heifetz—again with the rejections. So that makes three. I was almost ready to give up on Writers House, when I decided to query Robin Rue. I got a request for a partial then a request for a full. It was ultimately a pass, but like I said, I’m grateful for every agent who has laid eyes on my manuscript and has taken the time to give me feedback. If I had given up I would have never had my manuscript read by either one of those awesome agents. And FYI, I have a query out right now with Rebecca Sherman of Writers House as we speak! :-)

I’m determined if nothing else!

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying make a nuisance of yourself, or disregard the guidelines the agents have on their websites or any other site you get their information. I’m saying if those criteria above apply, then why not re-query. You never know what you may get out of it!

Anyone out there have a re-query story that you’d like to share?


Stephanie said...

I definitely agree with requerying as long as you stick to the specific rules you have listed above!! I've done it too...and like you, only after some major rewrites. I think it's rude for writers to waste agent's time by requerying the same project over and over again without rewrites.

My opinion...after several months...a year...what are the chances the agent remembers your query and the form rejection they sent you???

Karen Denise said...

I don't know the chances but Jennifer Jackson has said on her blog that she REMEMBERS-LOL. But maybe she meant people who re-query every month without any changes.

I was nervous about re-querying her, but I did it anyway. My letter had been greatly changed and I'd tightened up my ms AND it had been nearly a year in was still a rejection though-lol.

Crystal said...

Hi Karen!

Nice blog you have here! You know, what you've said about re-querying makes a lot of sense. I definitely have to remember this (I'm printing your criteria out) when I start the query process (which I hope will be before the end of this year). Thanks for sharing your query process!

Best of luck in your submissions! :)

Karen Denise said...

Hey Crystal! Thanks, I hope my theories can help you. If anyone can learn from my mistakes, then I'm happy. Good luck to you when you enter Query Hell!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Good for you! I'm thinking determination is your middle name? =)

Karen Denise said...

LOL. It's beginning to be my first name!