Should you re-query agents?

I find myself thinking of this question often.

There are times when I have the query itch. You know, the feeling to query right after you've finished the manuscript...before anything is polished.

I've actually done this a couple of times, and my advice to you is to steer as far away from the query itch as possible. Take a cold shower. Go for a run. Do anything that gets you far away from your computer. And please, don't think about it.

But for those of you who have already been affected by the query itch, this post is for you.

So you've blown your chances with a few of your favorite agents, eh? And you're curious to know if it would hurt to send them the new query with the better version of your polished manuscript? Or maybe it's been months, or maybe even years, and you want to give that same agent another shot?
Below are answers to a few of the most-asked questions about re-querying agents.

1. The agent that I queried receives so many submissions. He/she probably won't realize if I've sent another query. 
This is totally untrue. Agents are people, too. They are masters at the query process, and if he/she finds a query they like or didn't like, it'll stick with them. One of the agents I follow on Twitter said she has a folder with over 14 queries in it from the same person. Not only that, but the query isn't personalized and it's sent with absolutely no feeling--it's like clockwork. In most cases, if the agent didn't like it the first time, they probably won't like it the second or third time, either.

2. But it's a new manuscript. 
If, in fact, it is a new manuscript, it is definitely okay to send a new query. Just because they dismissed the last book, doesn't mean they'll dismiss the new one. Some stories just can't be sold at the time because the market is over-flowing with it, or it might just be a hard genre to sale to publishers. This happens sometimes.

3. Same story. Different query. 
In this situation, I wouldn't recommend re-querying. Like I said before, If the agent didn't like it the first time, they probably won't like it the second time either.

4. It's been a very long time since I've queried. 
What's your definition of long? If it's been 2-weeks to a couple of months from the previous rejection, I'd say don't query the same project. However, if it's been six months to a year, I--and this is solely my opinion--think it would be okay to resend the query IF you have made a decent amount of changes.

5. I've done a lot of A LOT of editing. 
If your manuscript and query are completely different from the previous version--like you probably wouldn't recognize it if you put the two together--then I'd say it's okay to re-query. Sometimes all a manuscript needs is a hard polish. And if that first sentence and paragraph hooks the reader in the new query and the new manuscript, then you're golden. However, I would probably state in the opening paragraph that you'd queried before, but that the manuscript is completely different from the previous version.

I hope this helps. Again, every agent differs. Some agents are more lenient than others, and some will throw your email address in the spam section if you query too much. It never hurts to try, but it also never hurts to check out that agent's web page either. They may address how they deal with certain issues like this one.

And remember, stay away from the query itch. In most cases, you have one chance to get it right. Don't sacrifice the manuscript because you want to scratch the problem. Just don't.

Till next time blog world!

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