Thank you for taking the time to do this! I have a question that’s been gnawing at me a little bit, and I haven’t been able to find many opinions on it. Say an agent requested material, either from a query, a conference pitch session, or an online contest, but ultimately passed on the novel with a form letter (the standard, polite, this just wasn’t for me).
If a writer queries that same agent again with a different project, is it appropriate to mention that first interaction? “I queried you six months ago with Fiction Novel 52B, which you ultimately passed on.” Or is it better to just leave the mention out?
Firstly, there is no such thing as a fiction novel. A novel is inherently fiction. Sorry, had to get that off my chest.
And now to your question…It is okay to re-query an agent; however, you must make sure you have either incorporated the feedback that the agent gave you or have drastically revised your book. There is no point in wasting anyone’s time–yours for querying an agent that is very unlikely to request more or offer representation and the agent’s for looking at something they’ve already seen.
And yes, mention that you’ve already submitted to them especially if they already requested material because it will jog their memory. A few of you asked this question so I can tell it is weighing on your minds. If you have more questions ask them in the comments below.
Question from Maribeth:
I have heard that an agent, editor or publisher can tell if a book is going to be a success by the first five pages and the last five pages. What do you think of this concept?
That’s an interesting field test, but not one that I practice. I think you can tell the quality of writing and feel whether the hair on your arms starts to rise as you read in the first five pages, but there are so many variables to making a book successful. The book might fall apart after five pages. No matter how good of a writer you are (and I know many) there are so many things that come into making a book 1) get a publishing deal and 2) become a ‘success’ in the eyes of the publisher and public: timing, subject matter, marketing, publicity, editing, writing quality and so much more! I wish it were that easy, but everyone involved puts in so much more work that can be evaluated on 10 pages.
Question from Stacey:
When you are reading a query letter, what are you looking for? In other words, what MUST the writer accomplish in that query letter to hook you?
Good question Stacey, but this one is super subjective. Here are my ‘musts’:
- Great premise
- A genre I represent and a word count to reflect that
- Tight hook that leaves me wanting more
- A main character I think I might want to learn more about
- A high stakes storyline
- A quirky author bio
Come back tomorrow for Part III of Ask the Agent: Your Questions Answered!