Yes, you can, but Miss Snark is not happy about it

Dear Miss Snark:

I recently queried my first novel and was elated to receive several requests for the full manuscript and one partial. Feeling studly and well stocked with ink catridges, I mailed off said manuscripts and the puny partial. Lo and behold the partial requestor got back to me and said "compelling voice, but I don't feel drawn in enough."

A full requestor gave another reject letter basically saying the same thing and I gathered that he didn't get beyond the first 80 pages.

I ran back to manuscript, reread it, and indeed,these two agent are right - the beginning of the novel is weak.

My question to you is: Can I rewrite the beginning, contact the people holding onto a full manuscript and ask them to replace it with the new version?

I understand that if they have already read it and chucked it, I am out of luck, but would someone be willing to dig through their "to be read" pile and swap out a manuscript?
Thanking you in advance,

Well, I'm not sure you're going to thank me when you read the answer...

I hate it when people do this to me. Hate with a capital H. The reason is that I don't keep manuscripts in any kind of sortable order. The one on top is the one that gets read next, and trying to remember that THIS one has a whole new beginning, or a better/faster/stronger version on the other shelf is a total PITA.


Given that what agents REALLY want is to find good work, it makes no sense to deny them the opportunity to read your best work. Email them. Tell them that you've revised based on feedback from other agents (that's the key piece of info). Ask if they want the BFS version. The scream you hear will be those agents ripping Miss Snark's hairs out one by one while roasting her over an open flame but still, you gotta do it.

This does NOT apply to query letters, only to full/partial manuscripts where an agent is getting ready to invest serious time.

And for the sake of Miss Snark's coiffure and epidermis please try very very hard to not do this ever ever again.


skylark said...

What a relief! This is exactly what I just did with Donald Maass, who had requested a partial. And the reason for the revision I gave is that his book on writing had inspired me so much...

Thanks for this advice. It makes me feel not quite such a nitwit.

Anonymous said...

You said on an earlier post, I think it was late Feb., NOT to do this under any circumstance. Is including the bit about another agent's comments the part that changes the rule?

Miss Snark said...

I don't remember the post, can you tell me the date or title? Usually when we are talking about this kind of topic it's "resubmissions"...sending back to an agent who said no. This is different. It's responding to feedback from agents and it's (we hope) before the other agents have read things.

In any case hate/hate/hate it is still the rule of the day.