Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Submitting Again

Dear Rejecter,

I'm in a bit of a quandary and a little confused. I started submitting my first novel about five years ago and received several requests for partials/fulls and even managed to option the film rights (alas a no go.) Everybody passed, so back to the old drawing board to rewrite with the help of a writing coach since I had no idea how to write a novel. Resubmitted to some of the agents who had requested additional material and again all passes. (I still had a lot to learn about characterization and I may still have a lot to learn. Hope not.)

Fast forward three years, a partially completed second novel and a complete reworking of first novel and I learn that an agent who is a partner to one of the aforementioned agents (who was kind enough to take a look at my first rewrite and then passed again) is looking for material in a category that might encompass my first novel. She requests a partial after getting my query and then . . . silence. Three months later, after a polite inquiry. More silence.

Apparently I have violated some unwritten code of ethics. (Their agency website does not address this issue nor state outright that a "No" from one agent means a "No" from all agents. Because so much time had passed -- almost three years -- and the material was so different and re-titled, I assumed it would be viewed as something new. It appears I was wrong. But I'm not sure.) I've never read anything on a writer's blog about the appropriateness of submitting to a different agent in an agency after requested material is declined.

I am getting ready to send out queries on my second novel which is in an entirely different genre from the first and which is best suited to the first agent from the agency in question and now I don't know what to do. They would have been on the top of my list. Now I'm wondering if I should cross them off all together. I would have liked to work with them, assuming, of course, my second novel is publishable. Yes, I know. Lots of fish in the sea. But . . .Any advice?

So I'm a bit confused myself, as to why you think you violated a code of ethics because you didn't get a response. Sometimes agents don't respond. It's not very professional but agents are busy. It's nothing to take personally.

Here are some handy rules that other agent blogs will surely disagree with me on:

(1) It is generally considered OK to query other agents in the same group. Just don't do them all at once and have the letters arrive on the same day, as it looks sort of tacky.

(2) If you're resubmitting a manuscript, chances are the agent will recognize if they read the whole thing both times. We have long memories for plotlines and writing styles. And there was probably a valid reason we rejected you the first time, so don't be surprised if we do it a second time. Sometimes the reason is "well, I just don't like the story" or "I'm just bored by the writing" and not "I had a problem with this scene and some of the grammar."

Every once in a while we have to go through the "Have we seen this query letter/manuscript?" game, and we don't like the game very much. Mention that it's a re-submission. Emphasize your revisions. It's worth a shot. Then try some other agencies.

(3) If it is a totally new manuscript that you are submitting to an agent who rejected a manuscript like 5 years ago, you can resubmit with no mention of a former submission. We don't care.


Anonymous said...

What if over time, two different agents from the same agency have requested/read additional materials and now you are ready to query with a spanking new project?

Do the agents care if you choose one over the other? (And what a lucky dog the chosen would be!)

What if you bypass both original agents and query a third agent with your new project? Is it an auto reject? Would you be blacklisted by that agency for eternity? Do they even care?

Anonymous said...

You are over-thinking this. Blacklisted? It's a business. Query who is appropriate to the project--if the say no, move on to the next.