Is It Okay for Me to Resubmit?

When approaching agents and editors, sometimes even veteran authors are unsure if there is some unwritten rule they may unwittingly violate. I assure you, all of us in the industry appreciate your thoughtfulness. But we don’t want fear to cause you to miss an opportunity!

Over the past few conferences, one statement I heard often is:

“I was already turned down by someone else at your agency. I thought I couldn’t submit to anyone else there.”

My answer is, “Yes you can submit to someone else here.”

You can even submit the same proposal. All of us have different personalities, strengths, and interests. What appeals to one of us might not resonate with another.

I won’t be upset if an author who’s been turned down by Steve Laube, Dan Balow, or Bob Hostetler, approaches me. Note that recently an author who Steve turned down eight months earlier was signed by Dan…using a different book idea.

I would appreciate knowing who’s seen your work, though. Again, all of us have different tastes and what makes one of us want to sign you yesterday might make another one of us wonder what the excitement is all about.

I’ve been an agent for too long for me to be hurt when I’m not someone’s first choice. Of course, I love being an author’s dream agent, too!

I will offer a couple of tips in approaching us:

  • Research our brands before submitting. I’ve been an agent since 2001, when the term “brand” more or less meant whether you prefer Pepsi or Coke. Because of my tastes and specific success, I have become known for representing works of interest to Christian women, emphasizing romance in fiction and soft issues in nonfiction. However, I also represent books aimed primarily at men. Not sure if I’ll like a project? Try me!
  • Don’t submit to all of us at once. We don’t hold a weekly meeting where we say, “Here are the proposals all of us received. Let’s fight over who’ll represent these authors.” Rather, submitting to all of us causes confusion, more work for yourself and us, and is likely to cause your proposal to be ignored.
  • Don’t submit to two of us at once. Fewer agents, same issues as above.
  • Yet we’re a team. If you meet one of us at a conference and we think a project is an obvious fit for another person in our agency, we’ll let you know.

All of us here want you to be with the right agent. Whether you find a home with us or with another great agency, we pray that you will find that perfect fit.

Your turn:

Are you looking for an agent? What tips can you offer?

How did you find your agent?

Does your agent have a brand? How would you define that brand?

29 Responses to Is It Okay for Me to Resubmit?

  1. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 28, 2018 at 3:41 am #

    I’d love to find an agent; I think that at last I’ve circumnavigated cancer’s ocean of pain and dread, and found the far shore on which Grace lives, and that it’s a message worth sharing, but the more I learn about writing, the less I have the slightest clue of HOW to write it.

    It’s not the message of Kara Tippetts or Randy Pausch or Kate Bowler; I’m not winsome or succesful or brilliant. It’s the epiphany of the perennial hardarser, the obstinate bloke who finishes the marathon last, crossing the line when everyone’s already gone home, and is still deluded or wise enough to do a victory dance.

    So I’d need a literary Michael Ventris to help unravel this stack of tablets, the Linear B of the soul. And, frankly, I’m embarrassed to say that, because I should know what I’m doing.

    “Hey, I’ve got this great idea for a book, but I don’t know how to write it, so how about working with me on the blue and we’ll see what happens…”

    Yeah. Did you cringe, too?

    • Avatar
      claire o'sullivan June 28, 2018 at 9:55 am #

      Ah, I think I relate. My original manuscript started without any understanding and it was a struggle on how to write. As time passed I discovered the ‘linear B’, the main character’s true personality, pain, goal. The good idea became great (well, okay, how about way more interesting and enlightening to me? What a great teacher when God reaches through our struggle to say, ‘Hey, I am talking to you!’).

      Those tablets had to be sorted. I started afresh. I gained mentors, received critiques … and I might add it took a long time.

      The best way to write that is to begin. Put proverbial pen to paper. Make your main character flawed, interesting. Get into a critique group. My project was doomed until I found a group who were happy to tear my MS apart and tell me what I was doing wrong… or right.

      You are the Michael Ventris and no one else can tell your story. You can sell that idea to someone who will ghost it for you (15,000 dollars and up), but if you want your idea to shine the best way is to start writing.

      Then dare to get it critiqued. My harshest critic became my best friend and it’s so important to listen to those who critique. If you can afford a ghostwriter, by all means, go for it. Writing has changed me. Don’t give away that gift, that experience to anyone else.

      Once polished, send to an agent. Expect rejections (and they are often for good reasons). I was pleased to see less ‘Never send this agency again’ to ‘promising but I don’t see the genre,’ to ‘send the full manuscript.’

      The SLA is the only agency that offers teaching, resources, encouragement for the newbie, and the offer for resubmission. Wow.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 28, 2018 at 9:57 am #

      Nope. I just thought, “I hope he finds a great freelance editor to work with before submitting to agents!”

      And I think that’s entirely possible. Just a thought!

  2. Avatar
    Joey Rudder June 28, 2018 at 4:23 am #

    This is so exciting! I’ve wondered about resubmitting and wasn’t sure if it was appropriate. Now that I’ve got the facts, it’s time to move forward. 🙂 (Not that you can tell, but that’s my SUPER excited smiley face!)

    Thank you so much, Tamela. Blessings to you!

  3. Avatar
    Martha Rogers June 28, 2018 at 5:17 am #

    I remember after I met you at Kansas City how impressed I was with your smile and personality, but was not sure about submitting to you. I had already been rejected by one agent, but decided to try again with another agent who was at the conference, so I submitted to her, and she said no, but suggested I submit to you because she thought you and I would be a good fit. Best advice I ever had. Don’t give up, and you’ll find the one with whom you can form a relationship that will last. Thank you for believing in me way back then.

  4. Avatar
    Debbra Stephens June 28, 2018 at 5:31 am #

    Good to know. Thanks for this encouraging word!

  5. Avatar
    John de Sousa June 28, 2018 at 6:07 am #

    Thanks for this timely post! I had submitted my first novel to the agency, addressed to Steve, and it was turned down. Afterwards, I hired a well known editor, did an extensive re-write, and am scheduled to pitch the work to him at the Realm Makers conference in July. Is it reasonable to resubmit a work after an extensive re-write? It will be a pleasure to simply meet him and talk, but I thought this post may be a good opportunity to ask. Thanks!

  6. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson June 28, 2018 at 6:54 am #

    Honestly, you are my dream agent, and I don’t say that lightly. You are an answer to my prayers. In the beginning I had talked to two or three agents but in my nervousness I stumbled all over myself. That’s when I dug my heels in and earnestly prayed that God would send me an agent that loves him as much as I do. In the midst of it all I entered a contest (several actually) and became a finalist, and that’s where you found me. I am truly blessed to have you as my agent. Tips? After connecting with you through a contest, I now tell every writer to enter contests. One never knows what door God may open when you keep pressing forward and trusting Him.

  7. Avatar
    Tisha Martin June 28, 2018 at 8:23 am #


    I really liked how you asked if an agent has a “brand,” and how do we define that? I’ve never looked at an agent that way before. Let me back up. I’ve never seen the question posed before, and it only makes sense. If authors have brands, why not agents?

    So … in trying to define it, as an author I would follow them on social media, keep up with any blog posts they may write (because it’s in the blog posts where I will find one or two sentences that really stand out as that agent’s heartbeat-brand), or make sure I sit in on a keynote or writer’s conference session (again, another great place to discover those nuggets of what the agents like, or the kinds of authors the agent prefers to represent). If you look carefully enough, all of these things point to the agent’s brand because sometimes “What I Would Like to See” or “Who I Would Love to Represent” doesn’t come through clear enough.

    And if I can’t make it to personally talk with an agent, I will simply email them and ask questions that will reveal their brand, things they like, and if we would be a good fit for the journey. (That does save time and money, but doesn’t do much for building the relationship on a personal level.)

    I don’t have an agent (yet) but one thing I’ve learned so far on my two-year agent-seeking journey: Just because you have a “dream” agent doesn’t mean that’s God’s agent for you, therefore, keep an open mind and be willing to dig deep and analyze all sides before getting your heart set on one particular agent because God really does have the perfect agent for you. That said, if you really feel that a certain agent is the right one for you, then verily, God will cause your paths to cross.

  8. Avatar
    Tisha Martin June 28, 2018 at 8:29 am #

    Something that caught my attention… You represent books primarily aimed at men. How many male readers ARE there? I’ve always heard it’s a marginal number. Are these books written by men or women, and who are the authors you represent that share to this audience?

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 28, 2018 at 10:07 am #

      Men do read, but I represent very few authors writing primarily for men. Usually, books aimed to men are written by other men. I mentioned that category primarily because I don’t want a male author to dismiss me as a possibility because I represent so many books geared to women. I’ve even had many authors say, “I know you don’t represent nonfiction.” But I do represent nonfiction.

      Another reason why I don’t want male authors to be discouraged from talking with me about their work is that more than once, if their work wasn’t a good fit for me, I’ve recommended them to other agents at our agency. When you have a great team, you look out for each other!

      • Avatar
        Tisha Martin June 28, 2018 at 10:57 am #

        Tamela, and here I echo, I didn’t know you represented male authors!

        Fellas, take note here! Tamela represents male writers, as well as nonfiction! We need more male voices in this industry!

  9. Avatar
    Rebekah Love Dorris June 28, 2018 at 9:20 am #

    What a helpful post! I never considered that timing was a factor. I just thought it was a general no-no to send to two agents in an agency. Thank you!

  10. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D June 28, 2018 at 10:56 am #

    Hi Tamela:
    Yes, I have an agent who signed me shortly after a ACFW conference. It was awesome. (I am now a huge supporter of conferences, if I hadn’t been before!) I found it was definitely worthwhile to chat with various agents, and found one who represents both Christian fiction and self-help, my two genres.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 28, 2018 at 12:32 pm #

      That’s wonderful, Sheri! Yes, I can’t say enough about how great conferences are!

  11. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 28, 2018 at 11:31 am #

    If I can add a thought, for everyone who’s looking to write their heart, looking for that path to bring out their message, looking for that ray of hope in what has become a hell of rejection and self-doubt…

    The only way hell can win is if you let it.

    And the only way you can let it is to quit.

    True for writing.

    True for cancer, as well.

  12. Avatar
    Mary Kay Moody June 28, 2018 at 5:32 pm #

    I’ve heard this “Yes” answer a few times in the past year. And always the people reading the blog are surprised. So I’m surprised that this fact doesn’t appear on more Submission Guideline pages or in rejection notes. Compared to the number of aspiring novelists, the pool of agents is, I think, relatively small. Knowing this makes the decision to revise and try again much easier. Thanks, Tamela.

  13. Avatar
    Kim October 26, 2018 at 5:50 pm #

    Tamela, I have been researching but can’t find an answer to my question.

    I flubbed my first round of queries, and there aren’t many agents who rep my genre/sub-genre. I honestly thought my manuscript was ready (three critique partners told me it was), but after I submitted to that first round of agents, rejections and feedback started trickling in. Initially, I thought it was just a word count issue, so I made revisions and sent an emailing updating the final two agents who hadn’t yet gotten around to my query. One of those agents thought the word count was good now but rejected the manuscript for too much telling, not enough showing. I also wasn’t starting my story in the right place (I got confirmation on this feedback after I paid to have my opening chapter critiqued by a professionally published YA author).

    There’s only one agent left from that first round, and I’m seriously considering withdrawing my query before he has a chance to see it (I don’t want to blow my chances with him since so few agents rep my genre/sub-genre). Would something like this be frowned upon? How would I word such a withdrawl after having already sent an update that my word count changed? Should I just fess up and say that I flubbed this by submitting to early and would he be gracious enough to let me re-submit after I implement the full scope of changes needed?

    I’ve Googled but can’t find where this agent has talked about withdrawing/re-querying, so I don’t know his stance on it.

    • Avatar
      Kim October 31, 2018 at 12:25 pm #

      Update: I actually found some suggestions for withdrawing a query and went ahead and did so. I didn’t go into all the details when I sent the withdrawal (tried to keep it as short as possible), but I think the wording turned out okay. Thanks for your blog. It’s been helpful.

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