When to Query?

Today I successfully didn’t do anything with my manuscript, or at least so far. I like that this is true about as much as I don’t. I guess I really just want to start querying, but the conventional wisdom is “don’t query till it is as perfect as you can get it.” This kind of wisdom is hard for me, because honestly, even if it was perfect, I’d never know. I’m a bad perfectionist when it comes to books, because as a writer I’ve always succeeded because content usually trumps form. The content of my story is not likely to change in any big way, at least not until an agent & editor request it. I like the story as it is. Unfortunately, it might not be told perfectly. There might be grammar issues and even a few hiccups when it comes to consistency (like what month it is in the story.) I wonder if agents really reject stuff for these minor concerns. Most claim they want engaging stories, which I think I have.

I want to query now, but I am telling myself to wait. To get some feedback on the full manuscript, then do another round of editing (hopefully one that will take a lot less time) before I query. Still, the itch to just send off a query is there. I disliked sitting and editing my rough draft, but I knew it was something I had to do, and I was working towards querying. Now that I’ve sent it to betas, I have no work to do on my book. So once I finish up my real job work, I feel like I need to do something creative. I spent over a year training my brain to do creative work for several hours a day, and now that it has nothing to do, it is annoyed.  I guess I should buy a new video game to distract it!

Do my readers think my plan is right?

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12 Comments

  1. pinkagendist said,

    April 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Have you read Hidden by Tomás Mournian? It’s absolutely outstanding… He says he re-wrote the whole thing during the agent/editor/publisher process.
    No matter how many times you edit, the important thing is what the agency and publisher want too. They’re in the business, they know what sells, they’re going to want you to adapt to their needs too.

    • kyoske said,

      April 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      And the second I have an agent and editor, I will gladly edit/rewrite as much as they want. I mean, I don’t foresee me turning my gay protagonist and making him a straight girl, but other than that…I’m open and ready to do whatever needs to be done.

      I’ve not read it, but will certainly put it on my list!

      Thanks so much for commenting again, it means so much!

      • pinkagendist said,

        April 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        Be prepared for all sorts of unusual things. One of the agencies I first queried told me they’d be interested if I turned the main character into “more of a sociopath”. As the main character was based on me, I wasn’t all that willing to go there…

      • kyoske said,

        April 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

        Hahaha, well my main character and I might have shared more DNA initially, but in order to complete the story, I needed to put some distance between us, so I did.

        That said, I don’t think making him a sociopath would help. Maybe one of the other characters, but he’s pretty close already.

  2. April 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    LOL @ the video game idea. I can’t imagine what I will do after my manuscript is done. Maybe work on fleshing out an outline to the sequel? An outline sounds nice since the writing-by-seat-of-my-pants thing is annoying the crap out of me.

    • kyoske said,

      April 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Hehe, I’m a discovery writer too, and I understand the pain it brings. Finishing your manuscript is awesome. Editing it is not so fun, but finishing editing it (or at least a round of editing) is wonderful. Honestly, I think it is amazing how many books are written about writing, but most of them pretend that editing is this thing that you do quickly. I guess if you write well the first time, but for me, the first draft is about getting the pieces of the story on there. Revising and Editing was where the real work was.

      My book is a one shot only deal. I could do a sequel, but I think it’d be pretty terrible. I’m not up for torturing my characters any more. I have an idea for another novel percolating, but I feel like I need some validation before I can really start working on it. Hopefully, that’ll come from some betas =)

      I am serious about the video game thing. Nothing better to distract me!

      • April 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        sounds like your know yourself pretty well and really have a plan of action mapped out. If you’re looking for betas, email me. I’d be glad to help.
        ava.easterby@yahoo.com

      • kyoske said,

        April 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm

        Thanks JourneyofJordannaEast! I will e-mail you shortly!

  3. rachaeldahl said,

    April 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I’d read something new or do something that you put on the back burner. Then if you have another book brewing in your head, start it. Once again, congratulations….and don’t rush it. You only get one chance to make an impression. Good luck!

    • kyoske said,

      April 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Yeah, I’m finding it difficult to read something for some reason. I guess I’m just antsy about my own book, that I don’t want to read anything. Thus…video games.

      I agree, I only get one shot, which is why I’m waiting.

  4. April 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Been writing for about 15 years now and have only recently allowed my work to be published. So far the response has been extremely good.

    I don’t agree with the previous statement that “publishers/agents know what sells.” That is a common misconception pimped out by the industry to place them as experts. They have just as much of a crap shoot with original content as self-pubbed authors, vanity presses, etc; and the sheer amount of books published each year by powerhouse pub companies that do not make it attest to that fact. What they are extremely proficient at is marketing and quickly tapping into a pre-built consumer base. This is where their expertise is, and what, as an author, you are giving up royalties for.

    Editing is going to take time, no matter how you look at it and is just as important as the original writing. For me, I’ll take a manuscript and set it aside for a month or more while I work on another project or do research. (Or, play a video game. :)) This way, when I do go back to it I’m looking at it with ‘fresh’ eyes and can spot mistakes, inconsistencies and (hopefully) develop the characters a bit more.

    You may also want to consider a freelance editor that will give you the feedback that you seem to be looking for. Beta readers are great, but not always indicative of a wider market, especially if they are just your close friends.

    • kyoske said,

      April 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Dear Brandon Shire,

      Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I follow you on twitter, and have been very interested to read your books.
      I think agents know what they can sell, and who they can sell it to. I agree that they certainly help with marketing, which is something I have little experience doing. I also think Agents have an eye for who can help the author turn a good book into a great one.
      I would enjoy having a freelance editor look at my book, but the expense of doing so is more than I can handle at present. If I was going to self-publish (or should I decide to do so) then I will certainly hire one. My betas are mainly friends, but I have met a few people on-line who don’t know me personally. Their advice has been helpful.
      After finishing the initial rough draft I took a 2 week break from the manuscript. I am basically doing so again (since my betas have 2 weeks to read it) and it is certainly possible that when I go through their notes and comments, I will go through another round of revising/editing. My hope is that doing that round of editing will be easier, than the first time.
      Since that is my current plan, I am not querying agents quite yet. I know in querying you often only have one shot, and I want mine to be the best it can be.


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