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Preparing to Query

Samantha Clark, who chimed in on yesterday's conversation, wrote a fabulous post today called "Preparation is Key."  She reminds writers that we generally only have one shot with each agent (or agency as it may be) for each project (an intimidating notion if you have a short list of agents), and gives great advice on making sure your manuscript is ready and that you've done the proper research. 

Towards the bottom of the post, Samantha admits she previously sent out work that wasn't ready and was "roundly rejected."  This happens to A LOT of writers, and for many, that's the way they learn to write a better book, to take the process seriously, and to do the research they didn't do before.

I can't guarantee you'll get published by following "the rules" - this business is subjective and relies on writing a publishable book, after all - and I can't guarantee you won't have to write another book (or three) to develop the required skills to do so, but you might be able to save yourself some time, rejection, and grief by stepping up your game and removing any and all avoidable mistakes from your journey to publication.  Like querying before you're really ready.

Check out Samantha's blog, Day By Day Writer, and make sure to wish her the best on her newly well-prepared-for search for representation.

3 comments:

  1. Ah, but it's so hard to know when a work is ready. is it ever ready?

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  2. Great comment, PJ.

    I don't think a MS is ever going to be 100% ready. You could revise and rewrite something your entire life.

    But, I think most writers know, in their gut, if they're jumping the gun. They let their impatience get the best of them.

    Whereas, if you put everything you have into getting it ready and then some (revising, critiques, more revising, line edits, betas, etc) I think you come to a point where you can feel confident that you've expended all the resources/help you have available for making sure it's good to go.

    Do you disagree?

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  3. Hey Casey, I just saw this post and wanted to thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you liked the post.

    And I agree that a manuscript is never going to be 100% ready. Writing is like any artwork, and you know that old saying about art never being finished, only abandoned. I think it's so true.

    But like you said, Casey, once you've done revisions, critiques, more revisions, etc. etc., you come to a point when you're satisfied, when you can say you really like this work -- outside of the initial excitement of finishing it, because at that point everything seems wonderful.

    To me, a manuscript is ready when you've done all these revisions, left it alone for a few weeks or a month or two, and when you come back to, even after writing it and revising and reading it over and over four times, five times, many more times -- you're not bored. I think a lot of writers want to send out their manuscript because they're tired of looking at it, and that was the case with me when I sent out my picture book so many years ago. I didn't know what else to do with it and I was sick of looking at it. So I thought it was good enough and sent it out. Flat rejections all around, and they were all deserved.

    But with my novel, in the second or third revision (can't remember which), there were times that I was sick of looking at it. I wanted to move on, and at one point I did for a few weeks. But here's the funny thing. After a bunch more revisions, I can now start reading the novel and not be bored. I can get drawn into the story even though I wrote it and know it backwards.

    So, I'd say a good test is, if your work doesn't bore you when you read it even after a bunch of revisions, you're close. After that, just listen to your heart and take the leap. Sometimes you might still find things you'd like to change after you've sent it out, but it'll be closer to ready than if you let impatience be your guide.

    Good luck

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