Monday, May 14, 2012

On Querying and Re-Querying

So it's no secret that when I first started querying my current project, it wasn't going well. Agents who I thought were a shoe-in for requests kept shutting me down with form rejections, and the first time I entered my query/first 250 in a contest, my entry got completely ignored.

When my first ten or fifteen queries didn't result in any requests, I had a sinking feeling that I needed to revise my letter, and stat.

At the same time, I realized my first 250 could probably use a little work, too. So I did an experiment and chopped a good 4 pages off my opening before entering Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness contest - and was floored when 5 different agents bid on my entry, including 2 who had already rejected my query.

So I got to thinking - what if I were to re-query some of the agents who'd previously passed, but using my revised letter and my new opening?

I know agents are divided on this topic. Some say they welcome a re-query as long as you've made significant improvements.

Others say that revisions don't matter - that if they rejected once, they'll probably reject again, and that the onus is on the author to get it right the first time.

Well, I chose to ingore that second group of people. I'm a little stubborn, and I refused to believe that agents remember every single query they reject. I was positive that my letter and/or my opening had been the problem in the first go-round, and with my spit-polished versions, I could reclaim any chances they'd cost me.

So, a few months after my initial wave of rejections, I re-queried about six or seven of the agents who'd passed. I didn't tell them it was a re-query, I just sent the letter as if it were the first time.

Now just as a disclaimer, I did not land my agent through a re-query.

But out of those six or seven agents, three who'd previously rejected came back with a request for material. One of them I had to decline, because it arrived about 4 hours after I'd accepted my offer of rep.

Honestly, what I'm trying to say here is never deny yourself a second chance. The general consensus may be that re-queries are a no-no, but I believe agents will take notice of a query that shines rather than hold a grudge against - or even remember - its dull predecesor.

What about you, peeps? What are your experiences/thoughts on re-querying agents who initially passed?


  1. I didn't have re-querying agents who passed on my To-Do list, but I was going to go back and query other agents from those agencies, once I had re-vamped my query and revised my manuscript. But it never came to that.

    I certainly think it would've been worth a shot, however. Because I'm convinced that my agent wouldn't have had as much interest in my older, duller query. It was all the rejections that came before that showed me how to shine up the query so that it was actually worthy of notice.

  2. Just sent out a "sorry have already signed with an agent" email to an old query from months ago.

    Agent responded she didn't know an offer had been made.

    Checked my records--I did indeed let her know of the offer and she sent a form reject three days later.

    I don't feel so bad for her case now, but she's at least the fourth agent who has shown interest a second time for a project already passed on.

    My new stance on requerying is go for it, but only if the MS is significantly revised.

  3. I agree with your stance on re-querying. I have experienced being rejected and requested by the same agent on pretty similar versions of the same query--and that is only through entering my query for critiques.

  4. I've never re-queried, but it's an interesting idea. The query is the hardest part of the process for me--I still need to work on those!

  5. I can't remember if I've re-queried or not. I'm in the same position. I'm finishing off a revision request. Now the question is do I re-query those agents I was interested in, but who rejected my old query and sample pages. If I do, it's only because I really like the agent.

  6. I've requeried agents with different projects but its rare that I requery with the same. You did the right thing revising and requerying obviously though!

  7. Thanks for sharing your query experience. I'm not far enough along in my writing process to query yet but it's something I find fascinating and love to read about on other writer's blogs.

  8. The same thing happened to me before I signed with my agent. My query wasn't working at first, and after I revised it completely, I decided to re-query some agents and got a number of full requests. One led to an offer, though that wasn't the offer I ended up accepting. :P I think if the query is different enough (and the story beginning is different), it doesn't hurt to take a chance!