Is It Ok To Revise and Resend A Query?

No, but really? For me just this once?

Hi friends,

As some of you know, I’m closing to queries at the end of this week. If you want to query me, you have to get it in my inbox by Sunday night, Nov. 15. Why am I closing? Because I am HUGELY behind and just getting more behinder, and it’s not fair to those of you already in my inbox, and it’s not beneficial to my mental health, either. My query inbox feels like all those babies watching Maggie at the Ayn Rand School for Tots from the Simpsons which I CANNOT find a gif for and which has to be the result of a legal threat from the Ayn Rand Society or whatever.

ANYWAY. I’m behind on queries. I want to catch up of the holidays, lol. If you’re wondering, and I know you are, if you’ll ever be the exception to my or any other agent’s close to queries rule, READ THIS.

Because I’m so behind, many queriers have sent me revised queries. Right off the bat, I want to say this is ok. You can do this. Try not to, but you CAN do this. People send either a revised query letter, revised sample pages, or both. Kinda doesn’t matter to me—it’s all revised. And people do it for many reasons: they sent too early and found mistakes, they worked with an editor/got a critique, I took too long and they had a brainstorm in the meantime, another agent gave them feedback and they’re updating their work. The reason doesn’t make a difference, tbh.

To be clear, this is not the same as an agent-requested revise and resubmit scenario. This is just a querier saying no wait read this one!! in my inbox without any prior interaction with me.

So, while you CAN do this, I do like to suggest writers avoid it. I feel you should send the best work you can, and then don’t touch it until the submission has run its course. You may revise your letter or slightly revise your pages over the course of the submission, but that’s not reason enough to resend your previous queries. It is highly, highly doubtful that slight changes to your query or first pages will make a big difference. If you undergo a significant revision, it makes me wonder why you queried in the first place. But I know that knowledge is only available in hindsight, and well, it’s not the end of the world to send me another email. I know this because I’ve been reading queries for closing in on 20 years. Writers don’t have this experience, and well, hence this newsletter.

On my end, though, when I get several a day, it’s a small headache. I have to search for the original query and delete it, because I read queries in the order they are received, and I’ll come to the old one first. If a querier responds to the original email and it ends up in the same thread, that’s ok, but it also means they’ve lost their first spot in line. There’s nothing much I can do about that; it’s on GMail. I cannot keep track of when an original query came in vs its revision beyond noticing it in an email thread. Not every agent’s email is organized this way, but you might want to keep it in mind if you’re just making slight revisions. This small headache is mine to deal with, but it’s still there, and it informs my overall opinion that you should avoid sending revised queries if at all possible.

I get it, though. You want your query to have the best chance possible. I do, too! Many queriers worry a misplaced comma or accidental misspelled name means an automatic rejection. It doesn’t, I promise. Agents are skilled at seeing beyond the easily fixed details to the heart of a book, and a few typos don’t change anything there. Extreme typos won’t help you any, but that’s obvious to 99% of queriers. Agents can even look past non-native English speakers’ common mistakes! I promise! We’re not itching to reject things for dumb reasons, I promise.

If you HAVE to resend your query because you revised it, I suggest the following:

  • Respond to your original query, so it’s all in one place for me

  • TELL ME it’s a revision, so I don’t think it’s just a new query

  • Tell me what you revised, because I’ll be curious, not so I can pass judgement on your reasons for doing so

  • Include everything you would as if it were a fresh query, so I have it all in one place. Don’t say I revised chapter one! Here it is!! with no context or anything.

  • (If you have done this recently to me, or any agent, please don’t email and apologize! No need to! It’s ok, I promise. We don’t need any more email!)

I understand things change over the course of a submission, ESPECIALLY when the agent has been incredibly slow, like I have been. That’s why there’s no policy against ever sending revised queries. But, I still think you should avoid it if possible and ONLY do it if you ABSOLUTELY have to. Trust that agents are smart and reasonable and aren’t out to reject you for small errors.

Thank you for voting, friends. Thanks for continuing to wear a mask.