Friday, June 11, 2010

Query Review and Submission Timing

It's time! Your manuscript is all spiffy and spellchecked and you feel confident about submitting your literary magnum opus into the agent/editor arena. Below, I've outlined some of the helpful tips I've picked up regarding when and how to submit query letters.

1. Test your query on a guinea pig before submitting. Not the fluffy animal! I mean a scruffy human. Now, while it's helpful to have a creative confidante who knows the basic premise behind your novel so they can judge if the query is pitch-perfect (pun intended), it's more important to net an outsider. The outsider knows little next to nothing about your story. The outsider's viewpoint is especially important because they might notice elements in your query that are clear to you, because you're the writer/creator/muse, but potentially confusing to an audience that has no prior knowledge of your masterpiece.

2. NEVER submit a query the week after you've finished your manuscript. Just don't do it. If a fabulous agent likes your query and you send them a manuscript in dire need of further polish and development, you just lost your submission bid. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything . . . Instead, give the brain cells a break for a good solid month, go back to your manuscript and revise it again, and then (maybe) let's start talking queries.

3. Submit your queries in groups of no more than five. Wait at least a month between submissions. I can't remember where I heard this, but I have found it to be excellent advice. If you submit your initial query to fifteen agents all at once and later make significant revisions to the query letter, too bad, you already blew your chance with all those wonderful agents/editors. Epic tragedy!

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