Suppose a person gets multiple offers of representation. She makes the choice between the agents, alerts the other offering agents, and starts moving into the submission process herself with her agent. After a year, the agent she chose has not yet sold her work and is not enthusiastic about her second manuscript, so they part ways. Would it be unethical to contact one of the previous offering agents to see if they’re interested in the second manuscript? Writers, I assume, even if they’re rejected by an agent, they might query said agent again with another project. However, I’m wondering if an agent would consider going for a writer who once turned them down.
There’s nothing unethical about that at all. In fact, I think the smartest thing you could do is contact the agents who have already shown an interest in your work. You know you already have an in and that they like something about your writing so should be your natural first choice. The very worst thing that can happen is that they aren’t enthusiastic about your second book either and reject it. But anytime you’ve had a positive experience with an agent you should use it to your advantage when you need to. That’s called networking.
The truth is that BookEnds does have at least one client who did just this. She chose to go with another agent (we had also offered representation) and as time went on realized that relationship wasn’t working and got in touch with us again. We were and are very happy to have her.
But let me turn this question around to you. I often hear published authors say things like, “I would never contact her again if I needed an agent since she already rejected me.” The implication being, too bad, you lost out because you once rejected my work. If you were on the lookout for an agent again would you consider agents who once rejected you or would you only go to those who had never seen your work?