Thursday, August 14, 2014

We keep records, by Terry Burns


Every so often an author sends a project over again even though I have rejected it, hoping to sneak it by. I just respond by telling them when I wrote back passing on it.

Because I keep records.

Most agents and editors keep records. They know when something was submitted, what it was, the size and genre, and they know what disposition was made of it.

That doesn't mean a project will not get a second look, but that will likely NOT happen if an author just re-submits as if it were the first time.

I will never submit a project to an editor a second time without asking permission to do so. And if I do ask permission to do so there has to be a reason that I'm asking. Perhaps the work has been heavily edited and worked on and is much different. That's probably the best reason.

Or perhaps the author has reason to believe that the agent or editor's situation has changed. "Two years ago you passed on my mystery entitled XXXXXXXX because you already had too many similar projects on your plate. I have done significant work on it since then and I am writing to see if your situation has changed and if you might give it a second look."

The market might have changed. "Earlier you passed on my project because the market was just not buying this type of book. I notice comparable titles THIS BOOK and THAT BOOK have published and I have reason to believe the market has changed. May I send you a proposal to give the project a second look?"

In each case, a query or a proposal is not sent, but merely a short note asking for permission to do so. Failing to do so is likely to make the agent or editor think you are just trying to slip something by and in all probability will just get a response that we have already handled it.

Because we keep records.

6 comments:

Heather Marsten said...

When I finish my memoir and submit it, I'd never presume to resubmit to the same agent without being upfront about it and asking permission. But I'm wondering, given how often agents switch agencies and there are new slush pile readers, maybe the authors are assuming that a different reader would be favorable to a book. Still it would be honorable to be honest about the resubmission.
Thanks,
Heather

Terry Burns said...

That's a good point, Heather, but honestly if I did not connect with a submission at one agency it is unlikely that I would at a new agency. And my records would still show that it was something I had already looked at even if I had changed agencies. Other agents may see it differently, I can only speak for myself.

Jackie said...

I would never try to resubmit a story to the same agent. It's hard enough being rejected the first time. But I never dreamed you kept records of stories you rejected. Good to know. Thanks for sharing.

Terry Burns said...

I keep records for another reason. A few times the situation has changed on things and I have gone back to someone to see if their project was still available.

Jackie said...

Hi Terry,
That's very encouraging for an unpublished author to hear.

Have a great day!

Linda Glaz said...

So, basically, people don't want to be 'on your list' if they submit to you. :) It is nice that you allow a resubmit if they've changed things.