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Brigid Barry
01-31-2012, 03:02 PM
Somewhere around or before 2001 I started writing a novel. Over the last ten years I'd set it aside, then work on it, then set it aside. In the end I had at least six sections that I had to cut and paste together, make them flow, fix the plot holes, etc. But I finally finished.

I had the novel read and got great responses. I had a really hard time with my Query letter and synopsis even after scouring the internet for three weeks trying to find a clue.

I contacted my top six agents - one of whom I REALLY wanted to work with. When I got my form rejections from the first four I did a blitz of queries, gathered some more rejections and didn't really get any feedback. One agent told me that she "didn't get into it like" she "thought she would" and because of that (and the rejections I was collecting) I made some changes.

I have changed my query (I will be posting it on SYW shortly - I just need to get out of the recliner and grab my thumb drive) and changed the layout of my novel but not the plot.

At the end of this long winded speech - I am pretty sure I blew my opportunity with the agent I really wanted, did I blow my opportunity with the book in general by submitting a query that may not have been up to par?

I have also been told that I should not resubmit the same project to any agent that has given me a form rejection?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Cyia
01-31-2012, 03:14 PM
How long ago did you submit? If you've significantly changed the query and the novel (I'm not sure what you mean by "layout, not plot", and it's been more than a couple of months, it's not likely anyone will remember it.

Brigid Barry
01-31-2012, 03:20 PM
How long ago did you submit? If you've significantly changed the query and the novel (I'm not sure what you mean by "layout, not plot", and it's been more than a couple of months, it's not likely anyone will remember it.

The plot of the novel has remained the same. I rearranged a couple of chapters to grab the reader immediately with what I call the WTF factor of my antagonist and extended/elaborated a couple of scenes.

The query will - in theory - will have a much better hook.

I started submitting 1/16 and I immediately started getting form rejects, aside from the single personal reject.

Theo81
01-31-2012, 03:39 PM
I'm sorry, you began submitting on the 16th of January 2012, but you've had time to get a reject AND make some changes?

You can't rush these things. Whenever you make some big changes (especially plot structural ones) you need to put it in a drawer and come back to it with fresh eyes. Otherwise, you run the risk of things like continuity errors.

Slow down. Don't change things because ONE person said to - only do it if you think it's the best thing for your novel.

FWIW, the personal reject you had sounds more like they liked the idea but just didn't like the book. It could have been for a million reasons - didn't like the characters, the voice, how the plot was developed...
I don't think you're going to be able to requery them (but that's going on what you've said). In any case, interpreting rejections is a bad idea unless there is something VERY specific (eg, Character A was unsympathetic and I felt their motivation was lacking).

I'd suggest not sending out any more Qs until you've had the squirrels look your Q over, and maybe post your opening in SYW for feedback.

Brigid Barry
01-31-2012, 03:54 PM
I have a lot of time on my hands on occasion and I am able to move stuff easily.

In the words of one of my reviewers, the original beginning of my book was like gently waking up in the morning, as opposed to getting hit with a cold bucket of water - which is why I changed it, not just because of the reject. The only thing the agent saw was the very soft, gentle easing into my story with (I think) only the first five pages of the script. . I just moved a chapter to start immediately on the action, no further revisions required.

I put the new one into SYW and I think it's better but we'll see. Followed by utilizing the SYW boards to present my work to some indifferent readers. My reviewers aren't afraid to share their opinion or I wouldn't have used them in the first place.

I am slowing way down - I think my "OMG I'm done I need an agent now" is why I'm here asking if I blew my shot with this book - because I rushed.

EMaree
01-31-2012, 09:55 PM
In some occasions, where a lot of time has passed, and major details have changed, it's considered okay to resubmit.

This isn't the case for your work, it's far too soon to consider resubmitting. I'd say try different agents, but take it slow this time.

Brigid Barry
01-31-2012, 09:57 PM
take it slow this time.

I won't be getting my rejects back from some of the agents until May if they get back at all. I have no intention of doing anything until at least a month after that. I know that's not necessarily slow in the publishing word.

Thanks for all the replies.

Drachen Jager
01-31-2012, 11:38 PM
General rule of thumb is to never re-query an agent unless a minimum of six months has passed and the novel has gone through at least one major rewrite. It's probably better to wait a year.

There are literally hundreds of agents out there who can successfully rep your work. If your work is good enough it doesn't matter so much who reps you and you can always switch agents later in your career if you find success. Do not fixate on any one agent or even a small group of agents. Find someone who has recent sales to major publishers, as a first time author you don't get to be picky unless your work is truly outstanding or you're a mega-celebrity.

tko
02-02-2012, 03:55 AM
How many agents read your novel? You said you "contacted your agents." Did they ask for a full or partial?

My opinion is that if they rejected it because of a poor query letter and never saw the novel, you could resubmit after a reasonable time.

Not everyone agrees with this. But that's what I'm going to do. It just seems reasonable that if you were rejected because of a query and maybe an opening chapter, and you've totally rewritten both, then it would be fair to re-query 6 months later. A lot of this is your judgment call - do you have confidence in your novel?

I think you're in my situation. Queries that suck, and a 1st chapter that floundered. But I believe in the basic strength of the novel.

On the other hand, if the agent rejected you after reading a significant portion of your novel, I'd say a re-write isn't going to cut it.

Brigid Barry
02-02-2012, 07:41 AM
How many agents read your novel? You said you "contacted your agents." Did they ask for a full or partial?

My opinion is that if they rejected it because of a poor query letter and never saw the novel, you could resubmit after a reasonable time.

Not everyone agrees with this. But that's what I'm going to do. It just seems reasonable that if you were rejected because of a query and maybe an opening chapter, and you've totally rewritten both, then it would be fair to re-query 6 months later. A lot of this is your judgment call - do you have confidence in your novel?

I think you're in my situation. Queries that suck, and a 1st chapter that floundered. But I believe in the basic strength of the novel.

On the other hand, if the agent rejected you after reading a significant portion of your novel, I'd say a re-write isn't going to cut it.

After I - please forgive my negativity - figured out how badly my query sucked I stopped sending anything. I was horribly misinformed by what I thought was a decent site and hadn't found this site yet to know what a good query was. Neither showed up when I Googled "how to write a query letter". Oops.

I did not send a full to anyone. I think max material that was sent to anyone was maybe ten pages, which would have been the pre-revised first chapter.

I have confidence in my novel and especially after spending time her at SYW and on Query Shark I realize exactly how much of a disaster my query letter was.

If I go back to bat for this novel it will be with a new query, revised manuscript, different word count and new title.

kaitie
02-02-2012, 09:31 AM
I'd say if you've changed that much it's worth resending after several months, but a couple of random thoughts:

A) It's easy to have an agent we think is going to be the most awesome bestest person ever in the world, but keep in mind that you've never met this person. Your work may not be quite what they like, maybe your styles are different, or you could even just have a clash of personalities. Don't pin your hopes on one dream agent because you might find that the best agent for you is someone several people down on the list who really gets your work and your goals.

B) I'd actually hold off on querying for a long while and get some more beta feedback, etc. Has anyone other than friends or family read the book? Have you posted samples for critique? It's hard to get objective feedback, but we have great sources for that here.

The reason I mention it is because you've said you weren't aware of what made a good query letter, etc., and honestly the thing that will screw you more than a bad query letter is having a work that just isn't quite up to par. The most important thing is to first make sure every kink has been worked out to the best of your ability, and the fact that you're already making changes implies that you might not think your work is quite where it needs to be.

Honestly I'm not certain the "didn't get into it" isn't a form rejection. I've had similar, and you really can't read anything to that. Unless a person gave you specific feedback (ie, the story starts too slow, the pacing needs work) it's hard to tell what needs to be changed from a form letter.

Also, your first five pages need to be awesome. I'd post them here and get some feedback before doing anything else. You should always include them even if they're not requested because having good sample pages can push an "I'm not sure" into a request.

If you've spent this long writing the book, I think waiting a few more months to get feedback and be certain everything is shiny is worth it.

tko
02-03-2012, 09:35 PM
Read a ton of how-to-write books. Write novel in 6 months. Think it's done. Let it sit, find a few betas. Get rave reviews by amateur reviewers. Rewrite for 6 months. Think it's better. Actively seek out some great, hard-core betas. Rewrite for 6 months with what you learned. Spent 6 months on queries. Submit opening chapters here. Rewrite. Submit again. Rewrite. Completely tear up opening sequence based on a single brilliant comment. Finished? Who knows.

AbbyBabble
02-05-2012, 05:54 AM
If there's one thing I've learned from the query process, it's that agents don't pay that much attention. Your top choice agents probably won't remember your name, much less your query letter. If you think your query is much stronger now, then go for it.

Also, I'm sure you know this, but ... sometimes agents aren't looking for new clients, so they reject everyone. Your top choice agents might fall into this category. Look for newer agents, on sites like Inkwell (http://inkwell.ning.com/) and here and stuff.

If an agent has already read your partial manuscript, then yeah, they might remember seeing it ... unless you made significant changes. Then it might be like a new novel, to them.

Don't stress about getting crossed off anyone's list. :-) I really don't think it works that way, unless you personally offend someone.

Polenth
02-05-2012, 06:51 AM
If there's one thing I've learned from the query process, it's that agents don't pay that much attention. Your top choice agents probably won't remember your name, much less your query letter. If you think your query is much stronger now, then go for it.

After a year, some will have forgotten (though some won't, and will reject it on that basis). And some of those who haven't forgotten may believe it's a major rewrite. After a month or less, which is the case here, the idea that they won't remember is wishful thinking. They're going to assume the book has minor changes only.

Gillhoughly
02-05-2012, 10:37 PM
What you did right: changing to the bucket of cold water in the face opening. That worked for me back in the day. You want an opening that will hold the attention of an eyesore, brain dead slush pile reader for 20 pages and cause her to almost miss her subway stop.

You are improving the query, though in my experience, people tend to read the query *after* they glance at your first page. They're doing what readers do when browsing in a bookstore, a look at the back cover copy, which may have nothing to do with the story, then see what the opening is like.

What to do next: workshop those first pages here on AW and see if you can get a beta reader to look at the whole thing. There's maybe 7 thousand members here, no need to go it alone!

So you may want to go over it again. Getting feedback takes a lot of guts, but you'll be hearing from other writers as well as readers. Most of us are too close to our work to see the flaws. You're not after praise, you want to know what's wrong so you can FIX things!

Rejections have a thousand reasons, but you'll find the main ones about a third of the way down this page, (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html) as set out by one of the main editors at Tor.

People do not always read books in their comfy chair with a cat dozing in their lap, soft music playing, and a lovely cup of tea at hand. They are in grocery lines, waiting for the kids to come out of school, in hospital waiting rooms, are themselves in hospitals and trying to escape pain, waiting to get called for jury duty, scrunched in the back of a car on a road trip, eating their lunch, standing on buses and trains next to smelly people and possible muggers.

Write a book that will distract them from that crap and you'll make a sale.

I wholly agree with the "dream" agent. It's like looking for a spouse, the one you want may not be the right one for what you need, and in fact may be completely wrong.

I tried that route, calling a writer to see who her agent was based on the fact that the agent had landed her a 6-figure deal.

Well, the agent didn't have time for me, but I got passed to a young, hungry assistant who was eager to kick ass and take names, and SHE scored some good deals for me and continues to do so.

At the time I didn't understand that the large advance had to do with the author's previous sales, not with the agent's sales pitch.

I didn't get the agent I wanted, but I got the one I needed.

Good luck!

Brigid Barry
02-05-2012, 11:01 PM
After a year, some will have forgotten (though some won't, and will reject it on that basis). And some of those who haven't forgotten may believe it's a major rewrite. After a month or less, which is the case here, the idea that they won't remember is wishful thinking. They're going to assume the book has minor changes only.

If my question gave the impression that I was planning on resubmitting today, I apologize. Upon realizing the major suck of my query I've been doing a lot of reading. I have a revised query that sucks significantly less but I'm not going to send it to someone next week.

Web sites like Query Shark and Miss Snark have given me a lot of helpful tips as far as grammar and voice for my work. So before resubmitting my new and improved query I will also be pouring through my ms again as well, searching for things that will kick the reader out of the story and interrupt the flow.

The agents that I am disappointed about the reject (while completely understanding why I was rejected) are heavy hitters in not just the genre of my current novel but the genre of my planned novel as well. Which is why I would want to resubmit to a few select agents.

If I resubmit to any agents the resubmission won't be until I have solicited the "fresh" agents and been rejected. So a minimum of four months, if ever.

Terie
02-06-2012, 12:04 AM
Kate, in all honesty, your original query was so bad that I don't think you need to worry about resubmitting to the agents to whom you've already submitted. Your improved query is going to be much much better and isn't going to sound at all familiar to them.

Brigid Barry
02-06-2012, 12:29 AM
Kate, in all honesty, your original query was so bad that I don't think you need to worry about resubmitting to the agents to whom you've already submitted. Your improved query is going to be much much better and isn't going to sound at all familiar to them.

ROFLMAO.

Not that I don't agree with you but should I be offended by this in some way?

And the query I posted on here (the first one, not after I popped my head out of my butt and figured out what I was supposed to be doing) was better than the one I actually submitted. *ashamed*

Ken
02-06-2012, 12:32 AM
If there's one thing I've learned from the query process, it's that agents don't pay that much attention. Your top choice agents probably won't remember your name, much less your query letter.


... some even have readers or assistants. So the agent you sent to may not have even seen your query.

Waiting six months sounds like a good way to go. For those who've seen sample chpts you might mention that you queried them in the past and have since revised the work. I'd definitely do that for any agent who's read a partial. (It's a bit flattering in a way that you've maintained an interest.)

Terie
02-06-2012, 12:56 AM
ROFLMAO.

Not that I don't agree with you but should I be offended by this in some way?

And the query I posted on here (the first one, not after I popped my head out of my butt and figured out what I was supposed to be doing) was better than the one I actually submitted. *ashamed*

I hope you're not offended; I was being honest because you've already realised the query wasn't very good.

It's actually a case where the badness of the original query is probably going to work in your favour because it was so bland as to be unmemorable. When you get the thing into proper shape, it will bear no resemblance to the original other than your name and the book's title, and those are details the person who read the original query definitely won't remember.

Besides, if one has to suck, isn't it better to suck to a higher degree of suckiness?

amyashley
02-06-2012, 01:14 AM
General rule of thumb is to never re-query an agent unless a minimum of six months has passed and the novel has gone through at least one major rewrite. It's probably better to wait a year.

I agree...mostly. I don't think you need to wait six months to re-query if you follow allthe advice above and have obviously spent enough time. Three months is fine too. One would be pushing it.

There are literally hundreds of agents out there who can successfully rep your work. If your work is good enough it doesn't matter so much who reps you and you can always switch agents later in your career if you find success. Do not fixate on any one agent or even a small group of agents. Find someone who has recent sales to major publishers, as a first time author you don't get to be picky unless your work is truly outstanding or you're a mega-celebrity.



My opinion is that if they rejected it because of a poor query letter and never saw the novel, you could resubmit after a reasonable time.


Just check agency policies on re-submission. If you aren't sure, let them know you're re-submitting after revisions in the beginning of your query. Be honest, professional, and polite. Don't re-submit if they don't allow it.




A) It's easy to have an agent we think is going to be the most awesome bestest person ever in the world, but keep in mind that you've never met this person. Your work may not be quite what they like, maybe your styles are different, or you could even just have a clash of personalities. Don't pin your hopes on one dream agent because you might find that the best agent for you is someone several people down on the list who really gets your work and your goals.

QFT


B) I'd actually hold off on querying for a long while and get some more beta feedback, etc. Has anyone other than friends or family read the book? Have you posted samples for critique? It's hard to get objective feedback, but we have great sources for that here.

The reason I mention it is because you've said you weren't aware of what made a good query letter, etc., and honestly the thing that will screw you more than a bad query letter is having a work that just isn't quite up to par.



I agree with others. Right now, you're riding high. The changes you've made sound superficial rather than an extensive revision, and your novel may benefit from a short rest and a solid, critical re-read by you at the least. If you're not querying again until May, you have time to do so. Not everyone does well with SYW or betas, but almost all of us find that we view our work differently when we've been away from it for a month.

I would suggest doing a beta read for someone else (or a few other people) in that interim. It will hone your editorial skills but alter your focus.




Be cautious in thinking that agents won't remember. Many do. This is not to deter you, but to remind you to maintain a professional image in re-querying as you do in all else. If you think an agent sent you a rejection that was personalized, be sure to note that your re-query is due to an extensive revision.

I would only query twice if revisions WERE heavy. A new query is not, IMO, enough reason to do so. My reasoning is that if I failed to get an agent at all with Book A, I would want to have a good reputation to query Book B with.

We like to think that agents are just so busy that they never remember book ideas, queries, names, but they often do just that. Professionalism can pay off, and it costs you nothing to be nice.

Brigid Barry
02-06-2012, 01:24 AM
When you get the thing into proper shape, it will bear no resemblance to the original other than your name and the book's title, and those are details the person who read the original query definitely won't remember.

Besides, if one has to suck, isn't it better to suck to a higher degree of suckiness?

Not offended at all - I thought it was funny, actually. I just felt like I should be offended.

SCORE! The title has changed. So now only my name links the Query of Awfulness to any new material I send out.

And yes, when I get it in my mind to suck at something I don't do it half assed. I suck worse than anyone else will! WOOT! lol. :) At least I didn't do any major faux pas like "all other agents suck except you" "all writers in this genre suck compared to me" and "I am God's gift to the literary world".

Brigid Barry
02-06-2012, 05:25 AM
From Miss Snark http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2005/09/revise-this.html

"I don't keep track of query letters or "first couple pages" submissions. If you queried me, then revised and requery, it's a whole new ball game.

If I read the complete ms, I'll remember you and have you on my data base."

Ken
02-07-2012, 01:02 AM
... that's interesting, particularly about the data base.
I wonder if that's a common practice?

Brigid Barry
02-07-2012, 03:06 AM
... that's interesting, particularly about the data base.
I wonder if that's a common practice?

I don't know.

I am going to take this (and several other comments) as hope that I may not have completely blown my shot with several agents. I will still be contacting agents I already have no solicited (and get all my rejects from them) prior to contacting agents that already sent me a form letter for my craptastic query.