On writing

Resubmitting the same novel

The second of two articles on querying agents. Click here if you want to read the first blog.

At what point is it okay to submit the same novel to an agent.

Sometimes, it’s obvious.

If an agent or publisher writes back and says, “Sorry, I’m going to pass on your book, but if you fix up the major plot hole in the middle I’d be interested to see it again,” then naturally you can resubmit the same novel to the agent —after you have fixed the plot hole in the middle of the book, of course.

You would send it off with a polite note saying, “You said you’d take another look at this if I fixed …, and I have. Please reconsider.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum you don’t spam the agent or publisher either.

Putting the manuscript back in the mail unchanged, and sending it back to the same editor the day you receive the form rejection from them is a no-no as well.

But what about the in-betweens?

If you believe in a story that an agent rejected, say, two years ago, is it permissable to resend it after such an interval?

Is it acceptable to resubmit if you have changed the story and/or query letter so much that it’s a dramatically different novel.

Is it ever acceptable, or is it something you never do?

To use an extreme example—I sent Barrain Draft 1 off to Wizards of the Coast. I still cringe when I remember that. It was so bad. The story is improving. It has a few more drafts to go, and will improve with each draft. Can I resend it to Wizards of the Coast‘s next open call, or am I obligated not to, by the very fact of my having already submitted it once.

This is an extreme example. The original submission was so long ago, and the story has changed so much that it probably doesn’t matter.

What about Potion though? It has done the rounds of a number of agents. We are always re-writing the query letter. Recently we changed the query and synopsis quite dramatically. At the same time we cut a number of pages from the front of the novel. Does that mean we can resubmit the story to the agents we submitted it to two years ago?

Blogging agent Miss Snark says this about resubmitting queries for re-worked novels after a couple of years has gone by:

If your work was rejected at the query stage, you’ve got a clean slate now. Enough time has gone by no one will remember you at all.

If anyone read a partial or a full, and you’re querying them again, you need to mention you’ve significantly reworked the ms, incorporated suggestions for change, and learned from experience.
Resubmitting Queries, Miss Snark

Her comment seems reasonable, particularly if at the time the initial query letter didn’t get past a form reply.

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