This is something I have touched on in a previous post, but since it is among the most-asked topics of all, I thought I would revisit it and make it a bit more comprehensive. Here it is. Re: re-querying reimagined, revisited, renovated. Re.
When is it okay to re-query the same agent? When is okay to query someone else at the same agency?
Here’s a (hopefully) comprehensive list of scenarios (and please bear in mind that these are just my opinions and others may feel differently):
If the agent passed on your query: Do not re-query with the same project, even if you’ve revised your query and/or manuscript. The agent has made their decision.
If the agent passed on your partial or full: If the agent specifically asked for revisions they are expecting they will hear from you again (and please check out this post for more about those expectations). If they didn’t specifically ask for revisions, most agents will be open to hearing from you again about the same project if they provided specific advice and you took said advice. Whether they will ask to see the revised manuscript again is decided on a case by case basis. UPDATE: And as Jessica writes, definitely remind them that they had seen an earlier version.
Querying an agent who previously passed on your work with a new project: If the agent previously passed your query for a previous project, especially if it was a form rejection, I wouldn’t mention the previous query. If the agent requested a partial or full but ultimately passed, definitely mention this to them when you query for your new project.
But whatever you do, wait three to six months after receiving a rejection from an agent before querying them with a new project. There’s really nothing worse than passing on a project and then getting an immediate e-mail back about a different one. I just passed on one work, am I really going to be predisposed to saying yes to the one that comes five minutes later?
Querying different agents at the same agency with the same project: Do not query two agents at one agency simultaneously. If you receive a rejection from one agent, it is usually okay to query another agent at the same agency, but check their guidelines. If they don’t specify otherwise you may query another agent after receiving a rejection from one, but wait at least three months. You never know if agents share assistants, and you don’t want them to think you’re papering the world with queries.
And whatever you do, do not e-mail an agent back and ask them to refer you to someone else or ask for query tips. If your query wasn’t quite right for me but I can think of someone else, I’m going to refer your query anyway. And no agent I know has time for personalized query tips.
Hope this helps! Let me know if I missed anything in the comments section.