How do I handle resubmitting my novel?

Posted on February 2, 2009


A few years ago I got a top NY agent to represent my YA novel. The agent submitted to 15 publishing houses without a sale. The agent finally stopped submitting and said she didn’t think it was the material but the timing. Her only suggestion was that maybe I should cut it a bit. How do I handle resubmitting my novel? Do I have to say it was rejected by all those publishers and my old agent finally gave up? Not a great selling tool. Or should I just change the title?

I don’t think you need to do anything. The first agent mentioned that timing probably had something to do with her inability to sell your manuscript. And believe me in when it comes to the publishing business, timing is everything. I don’t see the need to change the title, unless you want to. But you certainly don’t need to “disguise” your manuscript in any way. You aren’t required to provide the submission history of the manuscript, unless the agent asks for it. Editors come and go, and switch publishing houses all the time. Agents tend to form relationships with editors and follow them around. So for that reason, where your manuscript has been has little bearing on where it’s going since it has more to do with timing than anything else. Perhaps an editor who passed on it the first time around will take a second look and find a place for it on her list. Editors usually don’t hang onto manuscripts to wait for the right time.

Over the course of my own career I have been represented by several agents. Only one agent has asked me to provide a history of submission for a manuscript. However during a 5-year span, one of my YA manuscripts was seriously considered, and nearly contracted by two different editors at the same publishing company. The key in querying agents this time around is to try and find a way to pitch it that ties your novel to something current in the teen world — trends, news, sex, media, fashion, movies, sports, the web — whatever kids are into that’s considered “hot”. That’s what agents and editors seem to be looking for.

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