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Do Agents Remember Submissions?

Estee came up with a really interesting question, inspired by Wednesday’s post:

I’m curious if you remember the slush. I mean, if someone submits something that isn’t good enough, revises it and re-submits it at least six months later, do you recognize them?

Other comments joked about agents and their all-remembering powers. Since we see thousands of submissions a year, it’s a funny idea that we’d remember them, right? Well, I have news for you. I remember submissions pretty well, considering the circumstances! I can’t really remember what I had for dinner a few days ago or to pick up the one thing I really need at the grocery store, but I do start to get submission deja vu when reading something I’ve seen before.

For me, and I don’t know about other agents out there, it’s always a turn of phrase or a description that triggers my memory. In cases where the query or submission had a really focused premise, the premise will jog my memory if I see it again. The same goes for other random tidbits: funny character names, strange author names, jokes, exotic locations that the author is writing from, random connections we have that they might have brought up in their queries, etc. There are a million different things that catch my attention, of course. And I probably wouldn’t recognize everything I’ve ever seen if it was presented to me again, but my memory has been pretty accurate so far.

If the question was asked in the context of whether to mention a resubmission in the query, I say you should always mention it. Don’t count on the agent to forget that you’ve submitted before. Most of us who use email can search for your previous correspondence. And it’s not a bad thing to resubmit something. We all know that writing is a craft and that writers end up revising, sometimes days after they send their first query, sometimes months or years.

What do you say if you’re resubmitting something? How about something simple along the lines of:

Dear Mary,

You saw this query and passed with some really insightful feedback (Ha! My fake letter is laying it on a bit thick, but if you did get a response from the agent the first time around, don’t be afraid to mention something about it…). I’ve since revised the project and am hoping you’ll be interested in taking a second look. To refresh your memory, the story goes like this:

And then you launch into the meat of your query again because, as good as my memory may sometimes be, I’ll always appreciate another pitch to remind me of the key points of your project.



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