Here’s my take on this: though it is tempting to take an agent (or editor’s) feedback on a pass and write back – great thoughts!! Soooo…if I just change x,y, & z will you take another look?! My advice:
Why? Because really, if an agent (or editor) wants to see a manuscript again – he or she will leave that option open in the pass letter.
Personally, I’d also apply this advice to wanting to re-contact and re-submit a manuscript you sent months (or years) ago that you got tons of feedback on and ended up revising – unless you’ve basically re-written the novel.
I have never signed a client from a revision I did not ask to see (meaning: requested R&R’s, or, “I see so much potential, this was SUCH a hard call for me, if you ever rework..” etc does not apply to this blog post).
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t say YES to taking a look at a revised manuscript I’ve passed on, because honestly, there is ALWAYS the chance someone will knock my socks off with a revision.
The problem is…I find that it’s really hard to feel motivated to read a revised manuscript I didn’t ask to see. First impressions are hard to beat; I know what’s coming plot-wise the second time, too, so the element of mystery is completely gone – which means unless that hook really grabbed me in enough the first time for me to ASK to see it again…chances are, it’s just not for me.
Now, does that mean that you shouldn’t query an agent who has rejected you before with a NEW work? Hells to the NO!
I LOVE getting submissions from authors I’ve rejected in the past, as odd as that may sound. I HAVE signed clients that way - and through requested R&R’s.
Why? Because an author is only going to be better the more practice and time that passes; and if I saw something in the FIRST (or well, latest as the case may be) manuscript to catch my eye…there’s a very good chance there will be something even BETTER in the next manuscript.
Of course, this begs the question: why SHOULD you even consider querying an agent who rejected you in the past…because when you sign up, you want to sign up everything?
1. That rejected manuscript…really may not have worked. Period. And it doesn’t mean you suck as a writer, or that that agent isn’t for you – it just…may not work.
2. If the agent DID request a partial, and passed…that still means your ideas and initial writing caught his or her eye. The execution may have needed more work than he or she had time or vision for – but a more flawless manuscript may get you in the door…and open a window for thoughts on how to re-work and revise that older manuscript so it DOES work.
Not that I suggest the latter; I am a BIG fan of moving on to better and brighter things.
In sum: unless asked…move on. Revise the manuscript with feedback…and query a fresh agent with it. Or start a new project and knock your dream agent’s socks off!