Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How I Write: Knowing When to Query

Welcome to the ninth installment of the How I Write series, brainchild of Ansha Kotyk.  A group of writers are writing about how we write – scheduled for Wednesdays through August.  Please check back weekly. And click here for the list of all the writers participating and links to their blogs.

Does anyone ever know when to query? The standard advice is DON'T. Query that is.  Until...

1. you have a finished manuscript
2. your ms has been read by your crit group and revised accordingly
3. you've shelved it for six weeks and then read it out loud to yourself
4. you literally can't make it better

But really, when is it ready?  I think my ms is ready--it's been in Queryland since June.  I've taken a wee break from querying for  But it's full speed ahead next week.

I think it's also about knowing when you're ready yourself.  My dh pointed out last night (as I was on my way to my book club) that the querying is taking a toll on me.  "You're supposed to be the calm one. Have a glass of wine.  Or two."  Now I hadn't realized my stress was leaking out of me.

Does that mean I'm not ready? No.  It just means I need to give myself permission (thank you Molly O'Neill) to step away from the computer and relax. And work on other things.

How do you know when your  ms is ready? How do you know when YOU are ready?


Anonymous said...

Every single time I send it out on submission I think it is polished and ready to go. Then after it's rejected, I check it before querying and sending sample pages out again, and there's always some little thing that I think needs changing. So, I don't think it's ever completely ready, but it can't be sold if it's sitting in a drawer. Get busy on the next project, that's what keeps you the calmest.

Ansha said...

No one ever tells you about the stress during querying... it can totally mess with your head. :)

Tatiana Caldwell said...

I think your #3 and 4 are especially good to point out. If you can walk away from what you wrote for a bit, come back and read it out loud and it sounds and there is no way to make it better, you're done.

My goodness, querying is definitely stressful. Your husband offers good advice, heh.

Kay said...

Wise advice. I will definitely be coming back to it once I think I'm ready.

Kris said...

Catherine - great advice. I haven't looked at mine in a while...maybe I should. :)

Ansha - yeah. I'm totally messed up right now. Call you tomorrow?

Thanks Tatiana. He sometimes has some good ones. :)

Kay - thanks!

Julie Musil said...

I struggle with this! Sometimes I'm in a rush, and other times I wonder if I'm waiting too long because of fear. But now, I know I need to break my query apart and built it back up. THEN I'll send it out again.

Thanks again for your help.

Kris said...

I find it amazing that queries can be totally rewritten from a different angle and be completely new. Always good to look at it once in a while from a new perspective. Glad I could help!