Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Clarifications on MY query guidelines (ie not everyone else's)

(1) My novel is finished, but I'm still editing and slightly revising 10 out of the 35 chapters (and expect to finish them by late June 2014); should I send you a "proper" query now or wait until I am through?

(2) Your personal page instructs writers to send you "a query letter that includes the first 3-5 pages of the novel," whereas your agency, Fine Print Literary Management, instructs writers to "Send a query letter and synopsis and the FIRST two chapters via email." Which should I follow? Which do you prefer?

(1) you always always always wait to query me until your novel is absolutely finished and ready to go. Unlike a lot of other agents, I answer my queries promptly. You can fully expect to hear from me the week you query or the day after. If you're not ready to go, I notice. And I only want to read your very best work. You get ONE shot at this, and I want you make it your best.

(2) Send me the first 3-5 pages of the ms, no synopsis and a query letter. It's confusing on the FPLM site, I know.


Anita Joy said...

Is that also what you want for a Chum Bucket submission? I've read the posts that are tagged Chum Bucket (from left blog menu) but couldn't see submission guidelines. Of course, it is possible I need a new glasses script.

Janet Reid said...

Anita, Did you see the Chum Bucket FAQ?

LynnRodz said...

When did "finish" change its definition? The last time I looked it meant:

: to reach the end of (something)
: to stop doing (something) because it is completed
: to be done with building or creating (something)

When you're still tweaking, editing, slightly revising - you're not finished.

It seems the questioner has also missed a step along the way. Before s/he sends out those queries, it's advisable to give his "finished" product (and the query) to a few beta readers first. I've been working on my query for over a year and it's still not to my satisfaction. (Am I slow, or what!?)

All right, I'm a little snarky today because it's raining outside. Sooo, instead of sitting at a café with friends, having a glass of wine, and talking about finishing my WIP, I'm going to stay home and work on "finishing" it.

Seriously, I can understand the questioner's desire to start querying. I wrote my first draft in six weeks and two and a half years later, I'm still tweaking, editing, and revising. There have been moments when I've wanted to stop and get my manuscript into the hands of agents, but after letting my ms sit awhile then reading with new eyes, I knew it wasn't ready. Each step, each revision, has been an improvement. And yes, it's a slow process, but you can't rush it.

Elissa M said...

Finish your manuscript, including all the editing and extra tweaks. (I'm assuming you have beta readers who already gave great feedback that you've already incorporated.) Set it aside for a few weeks. Work on your next project during this time.

What, you don't have a "next project"? Develop one, then. Or work on your web presence and promotion plans. Write some short stories. Read the Query Shark archives in their entirety. Do anything but work on your "finished" manuscript.

Wait at least a month (4 weeks). Then pull out your manuscript and see if it's really finished to your satisfaction. If so, you can begin the querying process. If, as in Janet's case, an individual agent's guidelines differ from the agency guidelines, follow the agent's.

Leone said...

I made the mistake of querying too early, though I did get good feedback that helped me revise. My favorite scene wasn't even in the book when I started querying. I wish I'd been more patient - and more persistent in revising relentlessly. I agree with Elissa's advice to wait at least a month and then revise again; you see things more clearly after time away.

Anita Joy said...

Argh. I knew I was being blind. Thanks, Ms Shark.