re: Should I Tell the Agent She Already Rejected My Manuscript?

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Dear Editor…

I’d like to re-query an agent I queried over a year and a half ago. It is the same novel but substantially reworked and revised. She asked for pages the first time, but ultimately passed. Should I remind her of her previous interest and let her know about the changes? Or should I hope she doesn’t recognize the title and premise??

Sincerely,
D.

Dear D….

Furtiveness isn’t your best play. For one thing, the agent will probably recognize the project. I know agents and editors who can’t remember what they ate for dinner last night but who can remember details page-and-paragraph from a story they read years ago. That describes me, in fact. There’s a reason folks like myself choose this profession. For another thing, most agents will take a second look if the project is indeed different in a big way. Just explain in your new query letter that you’ve substantially reworked the story and then let her make the call. That’s professional, respectable, and commonplace. The agent in question was interested enough to request sample pages last time, so clearly the concept intrigues her. I predict she’ll say yes to the second look.

Happy writing!
The Editor

4 Comments

  1. FYI: I judge numerous contests a year (8-10), and have done so for a almost ten years. And I can recognize work that I’ve read before. In fact, I just rec’d a submission that I had judged over 2 1/2 years ago. It was substantially changed, but when I opened the document to see if it was legible, I recognized it within a couple of skimmed sentences.

    Ditto the response of The Editor–let the agent know.

  2. Completely agree with Editor and Margaret. Just think courtesy: “I appreciated your request for pages a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve substantially reworked (name specifics–deepening plot, making characters more complex . . .whatever you’ve done . . . Then add your request.) Could I interest you in a second look?”
    Congrats on sticking with your project.

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