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Resubmitting a Query

pileofpaper1I often get questions at conferences or on Twitter about resending a query to an agent. “What if,” the author asks, “I’ve made drastic changes and it’s practically a different project now?” Well, it depends. Did you turn your contemporary YA into a paranormal MG? That’s different. Otherwise, I think you’re looking at a revision, which, drastic or not, is still ultimately the same thing you sent to the agent before.

And a “no”, once given, is pretty much going to stay a no. Sure, “maybe”s have a chance of changing their minds, but “no”s? Not so much.

The cold hard fact is you have ONE CHANCE to make a first impression. ONE CHANCE with your manuscript. ONE CHANCE with the agent of your dreams. And once that chance goes back to you as a no, well, you have to either put that manuscript aside or find new agents to submit to. You’ve burned your bridges. That ship has sailed. (And other metaphors you shouldn’t include in your WIP.)

Are there exceptions? Sure, there always are. But if I’ve left a door open for a resubmission of material, you’re going to know about it. My rejection letter will spell it out pretty clearly — “This doesn’t work for me right now, but if you’re willing to make some changes, I’d be happy to take another look.” Without that offer of a second look, my “no” is a no for all time.

So get it right the first time, and if you think it’s not ready, don’t submit it. I doubt any agents are sitting around waiting for new queries to come in. We’re already got a lot to look at, and if you take another month with your manuscript before you send it, chances are you’ll still have a shot — a better shot than if you send something that isn’t ready.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Cookies?

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