View Full Version : Should I Submit My Query?

09-18-2008, 06:26 AM
OK, here's the rundown. My mss. is about as complete as I can make it. I have partials and fulls with three Betas. I plan on submitting after hearing back from two Betas. However, one has had my mss. for over a year. The reason for this is that he's not in good health but he's given me awesome advice and encouragement ever since he found out I write. My question is this: Should I wait for my Betas to finish before I submit my query letter? The agent is going to ask for revisions anyway, so I'm just wondering what other people's opinions are.

09-18-2008, 07:06 AM
You're more patient than I am if you're willing to wait a full year for response from a beta reader. Personally I don't have that kind of patience. I think you should definitely have at least one or two readers give feedback before querying, but you should probably find readers who are available to read right away.

09-18-2008, 08:00 AM
If it takes a year for someone to finish your book, that tells you something right there.

09-18-2008, 06:27 PM
What do you mean by that, ORION? This guy is someone I've known since I was born. He's a member of my chruch and has heart trouble and suffers from the after-effects of polo. He's read several of my mss. before and I've gotten them back, so this IS someone I can trust. His wife told me several weeks ago that he was just now starting to feel good enough to read and edit my story again. He's very in-depth because he used to copy-right and I'm very lucky to have him.

Don't get me wrong, I understand where you're coming from. Just know that I don't trust my full mss. to people I can't trust. Only he and my BF have full access.

Totally random question, and off-topic, but when did you sell LOTTERY?

09-18-2008, 06:42 PM
You don't want to start querying until your MS is as polished and perfect and you can make it. If you have a beta reader who you feel will give you feedback that will alter your MS, you're not ready to query yet.

Yes, agents ask for revisions but only on books they feel they can sell. Their revisions are to make a great book better, to improve it so they get a six-figure advance vs a five-figure advance. DO NOT fall into the trap of thinking that an agent will fix your book and make it professional level quality. It has to be professional level quality first.

09-18-2008, 06:53 PM
Okie dokie! That's all I needed to know. Thanks!

09-18-2008, 07:11 PM
I think Orion meant that if it takes a year for someone to read your MS, it might suggest the MS is tough to read. But I'm not sure that is entirely accurate. I think definitely sometimes that can be the case, but I had a friend that I gave my at the time unpublished MS to read, and she started it but never finished it. Now the book still got published, and others seem to say that it is good, and when it was out in book form my friend did read it and like it. I think sometimes being given a MS can seem daunting. It is also more awkward physically to read etc. It isn't quite the same as a book.

I guess the answer to your question is another question. Why did you send your MS to the betas in the first place? Was it to get some genuine input, or was it to just get a more "did you like it" kind of thing? Personally I give my work to betas with the intention of doing more work upon its return. If I had a work out therefore with betas, I would wait on querying because I would know I still had work to do on the MS. Now, in the case with the gentleman who was ill, you may have to forgo him as a beta, but maybe you could talk to the others, explain your situation, and ask if it is at all possible for them to focus at bit more on your MS so you can get it back soon.

As for "the agent will ask for revisions anyway" thing. That is a very dangerous train of thought. First of all an agent might or might not, there is no guarantee. But second of all you have to pull your own weight, you have to submit the work that is the best you can possibly make it. Yes an editor will probably see things you won't have, but you want the editor to be working with as perfect an MS as you can deliver them. Besides, don't you want as much control over your work as possible? Seems awfully odd to want to take what little we have and hand it over.

Aside from that, what's the rush?

09-18-2008, 07:12 PM
I just want to say you were a bit harsh, Orion. There are lots of reasons someone might take a year, particularly if they were ill. Writers take enough harshness from the world (editors, critics, book buyers who don't know a good thing when they see it). Personally I wouldn't wait -- I'd find someone else I trust, and I'd make sure that it wasn't my book causing the delay. I've heard from others in this thread that some agents (at Trident, no less) who sit on full manuscripts a full year, and then offer representation! There are lots of roads leading to the same place.

09-18-2008, 07:14 PM
P.S. I didn't mean "on this thread" I meant "on this forum." Well, obviously I guess. It's early here in California.

09-19-2008, 12:31 AM
I'd like to echo what Toothpaste said. Although chances are, an agent will request some revisions, you should be submitting a polished manuscript. I assume that's why you sent your novel to Beta readers in the first place.

09-19-2008, 03:23 AM
Yep. I always want to hear critique. I have some people who hesitate to give it to me and I HATE that! That's why I like people who can put friendship aside and tell me what they honestly feel.

Truth be told, I'm not in a pro-write environment. I am the only person in my family who writes and hardly anyone I know likes sci-fi and fantasy, which is what I write. But I won't trust my full mss. to someone I don't know off the interent until an agent (or some other party) asks for revisions. That's just who I am and how I roll.

Anyway, I'm only 19. I got plenty of time. I guess it's just hard when you have your query and synopsis both ready to go and you can't get the actual mss. there.

09-19-2008, 05:14 AM
Madisonwrites, you need to get critiques from people who are not your friends or family. Perhaps joining an in-person writing group or book club might be one way to expand your circle of potential beta readers?

Jersey Chick
09-19-2008, 05:23 AM
I'm with ICE on this one - family and good friends are great for support (if they are the supportive type) but not necessarily the most objective betas out there. You need to hand that ms over to people who aren't necessarily concerned with hurting your feelings (with constructive criticism, that is. :)) but are concerned with helping you tighten what needs tightening in your ms.

09-19-2008, 06:04 AM
Yeah, but I want people I know I can trust as well. I mean, when I wrote things when I was small and even now when I throw an idea out there, my mom will tell me if she liked it, it needed work, or even if she flat out hates it. We're the type of family that knows you don't get anywhere with pampering.

I want to join a writer's group. I know I can learn a lot from people who are better than me. However, I don't know of any in my area, I'm going to be moving soon, and I don't have my license so I can't drive myself to one. I guess step one is just learning to take it one step at a time. After all, most times it takes more than 2 years to get a story complete, so I guess I need to slow down. Can y'all tell I'm not a patient person? :D

09-19-2008, 05:02 PM
I agree that getting crits from people who know writing is a good idea. After you move, look around for some state writer's groups, or local chapters of SFWA. Colleges often have groups. You can meet some folks and see who clicks with you.

Does Critters still run? (www.critters.org I think) That was a pretty good online crit community for SF/F and Horror.

Jersey Chick
09-19-2008, 05:16 PM
I know RWA has several on line chapters - I would assume other groups do as well - so that's one avenue to check out.

Stacia Kane
09-19-2008, 05:49 PM
We have a Share Your Work forum for critiques right here on this site, let's not forget. :)

09-19-2008, 07:45 PM
Gosh I go out on tour and come back and yikes!
please don't read more into what I said then what is there. You were the one with the question. I do not use beta readers to say "gee it's terrific"
I use them for information on my plot pacing among other things. If a reader does not finish my manuscript in 6 months I consider that the pacing is off.
That is just me and the way I use my beta readers who by the way are not related, not writers but readers, and not close friends...
Re: querying. If the pacing is off it's just one more reason for an agent to reject you. The biggest mistake most writers make is querying too early. (Nathan has been posting about this on his blog this week as a matter of fact)
At 19 this is all the more reason to take your time and use online critiques such as what we have here.
You have a marvelous opportunity being in a position of finishing a book at your age- I congratulate you...
(RE: your question about LOTTERY- I obtained representation July 2006 and my agent sold LOTTERY at auction in December 2006 - it was published in Aug 2007. LOTTERY was my first book published but my third novel written...) It has since sold in 20 other countries.
Most of my editors did minor revisions...don't assume that agents will want to help you revise.

09-19-2008, 08:03 PM
I read about your book on I think your literary agent's website (don't quote me!) and thought it suonded interesting.

And Nathan Bransford's blog is AMAZING! Gosh, I don't see how I got along without it!

I had someone read the dreaded first three chapters of my mss. and so far they can't say a lot is wrong with it. I sent it to someone else saying, and I quote, "Please, please, PLEASE rip this apart! Tell me any and every itsy bitsy thing that bothers you," 'cause those chapters, I think, are the ones that need the most work.

I've never queried this story before, which why I was asking. This is probably the best thing that I've ever written and might be the only one that kinda, maybe, sorta has publishing potential. I don't want to say 'yes' 'cause, heck, I don't know. I want to do everything RIGHT for this story, so thanks everyone for all your help! :D