Trying Again

Dear Miss Snark,

Last year I had a few literary agents request the first manuscript I ever wrote in full. All of them ultimately passed for varying reasons, but none of them actually said "your writing sucks". I have since written manuscript number two, which I believe is much, much better and has a wider commercial appeal than my first manuscript.

I would like to approach these agents again as they were all in my top ten list. When I send them a query letter, should I mention the name of the first manuscript they requested in full to refresh their memory? Is this worth doing or am I better just to pretend they'd never read my first manuscript?

No, no and yes.

Absent any sort of comment that is "send me what else you have", most agents probably won't remember your name unless reminded. Why remind them that they passed before? This is a new novel, it's better, being passed on previously doesn't give you a leg up. There's no bonus for telling them, and a lot of down side ie "oh yea, I do remember that novel it sucked even though I didn't say so".

I'd much rather read a query and pages with a fresh eye than knowing I'd passed on previous work, much like candidates for Miss America don't tell you how many times they try out before they win (I was amazed to discover the answer can be ...lots).


Anonymous said...

Has Miss Snark ever, in despair, put down a manuscript, chugged a couple of fingers of gin, and scribbled Your writing sux! (And your momma's ugly too!) across the cover page?

Ever been tempted??


McKoala said...

The current Australian Idol was rejected twice at the audition stage in previous years.

Try and try again as Robert the Bruce learnt from the spider.

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentines Day Killer Yapp - I heart you!

Anonymous said...

Why waste Madame Snarkster's time with such trivial and stupid questions, ril?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... that's interesting... There were a few agents who read my first novel and offered some great feedback and encouragement, but ultimately passed on it. I did remind them of that fact when I queried them about my second novel, and so far it hasn't seemed to hurt. But I'll definitely keep this advice in mind in future.

DB said...

Save the first manuscript. My first novel was awkward and difficult to approach, and thus rejected. When my next novel was in its second printing, in a fit of arrogance, I packed all copies of the first book to the bottom of Clark's Fork Canyon along with a gallon of bourbon. I fished for three days straight and kept warm at night feeding the pages one-by-one into the campfire. Years later, my third wife found yet another copy of that first novel in a box in the cellar. She read it and was moved to tears. After a few minor edits, and with her urging, I was able to publish it with a university press as a novelty, something of a postscript on the career of a writer whose star had faded. Incidentally, it's still in print today.

Anonymous said...

Sideshow Bob, why so catty? Just because YOU think you know the answer to this question doesn't mean you should knock someone for getting off their butt and asking what they feel is a relevant question. This blog is for EVERYEONE to learn and also encourage each other - if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.