re-querying : a minor skirmish in the query wars

When I say it is okay to re-query me, I do mean it. But what I want is a re-imagining of the pitch, or a new book altogether. What I do not want is a mulish attempt to bludgeon me into saying I’ll read something. If you do what I am about to describe — you will not convince me to change my mind. If you send me the exact same query 5 times in 6 months and all you change is the title of the book (and sometimes not even that), there’s every chance that I will recognize it and feel spammed instead of pitched. One of the advantages of being an agent is getting to choose the projects you want to work on and the authors you want to work with. It’s a creative aspect of building a variety of projects to represent that I enjoy. I want to be hooked and feel compelled; not the victim of a hard-sell that won’t take a polite rejection as an indication that it’s not working.

And now I’m really going to go read even though it’s clouded up again.

13 responses to “re-querying : a minor skirmish in the query wars

  1. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing again and again and again, changing nothing and expecting a different result?

  2. …sounds like dating…and perhaps entails the same amount of cluelessness, even with the best of intentions on both people’s parts…

  3. I’m guessing there’s some book or Web site out there advising precisely that repeated hit hard sell under the notion that like advertising, an agent requires repeated impressions of the same message. It’s still deeply stupid.

    • Jay,
      I don’t remember the website exactly— it was pointed out by either pnh or tnh on Making Light a (few years?) ago with tons of bad advice on querying. In addition to hounding agents and editors he also advised on phony publishing credits to help get your attention.
      For the amount of time agents and editors have spent blogging and giving free and legit great advice there is plenty of tribal knowledge b.s. and bad advice lurking everywhere.

    • Yes, there is. I’m not going to mention the name of the book here, but if, informally, suggests…send, send again, send some more. Never mentions the word CHANGE….

  4. I haven’t experienced this situation YET, but I’m is it possible that you might be nice enough to add a small not…even a simple word…”rework” and they just aren’t getting the clue?
    I seem to recal a posting about pickup lines being much the same. But really…how many different ways can you say “Nice shoes”, really?
    Wait…there is a quote about horses and water though.

  5. It’s clueless writers like those that make it hard for the rest of us who are really working hard and editing and polishing our novels. That’s sooo annoying.

  6. Poor bookkeeping, maybe?
    I wonder if, in some cases, the repeated queries come from people who don’t do a good job of keeping track of where they sent their queries before.

  7. Completely off topic, but I thought that your inner foodie might enjoy this food blog I recently discovered.

  8. Bludgeoning is also a crummy way to get a potential agent to have a good opinion of you.
    I’m sorry. Why we can’t sometimes remember our basic etiquette remains a mystery.

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