Should You Re-Query Agents with Your Revised Manuscript?

If you came to this post hoping for an absolute answer to this question, you’ll be disappointed.

I’ve been on a querying blitz this past week, sending the YA version of DUET out into the world. Because I already queried a number of agents with the MG version, this question of re-querying has come up a lot. Note that this is specifically pertaining to agents who’ve already rejected–not those who still have an earlier version as that’s an entirely different topic.

I should also note that before even considering this, make sure your manuscript has been significantly revised and that a considerable amount of time has passed. In my case, I rewrote DUET from a middle grade to a young adult, which translated into a significant word count increase as well as adding new subplots and making changes to the main plot. And as far as timing, I won’t even consider re-querying if it’s been less than six months. Below are my internal checklist questions depending on whether the agent requested or not.

Agents Who Rejected the Partial/Full Manuscript

Earlier this week, I asked my Twitter friends: Is it totally taboo to re-query agents who requested the MG version of DUET with the YA version? I received answers varying from “yes!” to “the worst they can say is no.” My internal argument goes something like this:

Reckless Michelle: You know they love the concept, and you’ve changed so much of the story. The worst they can say is no. Go for it!

Cautious Michelle: But they already said no once. I don’t want to annoy them or waste their time if they’ll end up thinking the same thing. What if I don’t get an agent with this manuscript? I might have wasted some serious capital when I’m ready to query my next project.

Cautious Michelle generally wins, but here’s how I evaluated, trying to find a balance.

  • Was it a form rejection? If so, I’m not resending because I have no idea what didn’t work for that agent.
  • What did the agent say in the rejection? Have I addressed his/her issue(s) fully enough or is it possible they’ll still see the same issues?
  • Did the agent have some really positive comments that imply they’d be open to seeing a revision?
  • Is the agent at an agency where there are other agents I could query? If so, will it be awkward to do that or should I at least give that agent the first right of refusal?
  • Does the agent have a stated policy about re-querying something they’ve rejected? Some agents will share this information on their blog or website.

Agents Who Rejected the Query

This can be tricky, too. If it was a query only, I assume they weren’t interested in the concept, so that’s an easy no. If they saw pages, though, it’s possible it was the sample that turned them off and not the concept. Here’s what I considered in that case.

  • First, what’s the agent’s policy on re-querying? Some agents are totally fine with trying again. As stated above, I only consider it if it’s been at least six months, and I mention that I previously queried them with an MG version.
  • Did they give any feedback? Most query rejections are forms, but some agents will give  something extra. If that’s the case, I consider whether I’ve addressed their concerns about it fully enough for it to show in the query and sample pages.
  • Did they think about it? You can’t know for sure unless they told you they deliberated over it, but there are some agents who state that they have a maybe pile, and you might be able to tell if your original query sat there by tracking statistics on QueryTracker or Absolute Write. It’s not a sure science, but it could give you hope that they’d seriously consider a re-query.
  • Do they tend to request more YA than MG? Since I made a category change, this is an extra consideration. Some agents accept MG but specialize more in YA, so it’s worth trying them again. The same could be true if you’ve revised from YA to adult, etc.
  • Do I love the agent enough to risk trying again? It’s a bit easier to answer this question with a rejected query versus a rejected submission. If they haven’t read more than a sample, I expect they’re less likely to be annoyed that I’m trying again. But I still think carefully about it.

Overall, I’d advise serious caution if you decide to re-query agents who have already passed. I’ve done it with a few, but I agonized over it first. It’s that struggle between not wanting to waste their time if it’s just going to be another “no” and whether I really think they’ll be interested this time around.

What are your thoughts? Have you re-queried agents with a revised manuscript? How did it work out?

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About Michelle I. Mason

I'm a full-time writer, focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. I'm also a wife, mom, Christian, violinist, avid reader and St. Louis Cardinals fan. And I watch way too much TV.
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5 Responses to Should You Re-Query Agents with Your Revised Manuscript?

  1. I agree. It’s best to take it case, by case, and deliberate carefully over the benefits. It’s a small industry, and you don’t want to close doors for the potential representation of future projects.

  2. Gwen says:

    I’m not at this stage yet, so I probably won’t be much help. Would it be worth your time to try again with the agent(s) who offered feedback? Seems they showed a bit more interest than those who sent a form rejection. But as you stated above, best to check the website.
    Great educational post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, it’s definitely true that the agents who offer feedback wanted to help me improve the manuscript. A lot of it comes down to how confident I am in whether I addressed their issues. I think I have, but what if I go back and they still think the same thing? I’m still considering a couple of those.

  3. Pingback: My Fifth Blogiversary!! With a Giveaway, Of Course! | Michelle I. Mason

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