When Is It Time to Query?

I’ve written posts on when it’s time to revise and when it’s time to wait, but I started this blog after I’d started querying DUET, so I didn’t have a reason to write about when it’s time to query. Until now. Because even though I still have a few DUET submissions out there, it’s time to give DEXELON a chance.

Which brings me to the angst-inducing question of when it’s time to query. I don’t have a perfect answer for this, and anyone who does is lying to you. Now, I can tell you when it’s definitely not time to query:

  • If no one else has read it (made this mistake with the MS I rarely own up to)
  • If only a couple of people have read it (made this mistake with the first MS I do claim)

Oh well. We all have to start somewhere. Assuming you know better than to query without getting solid feedback from honest critique partners, it all comes down to your gut feeling. I have to admit, I’ve trusted my gut before and it’s been wrong. Cases in point:

  • CAVEBOY – I really thought I knew what I was doing with this one. I researched, I found a couple of people to read it for me, and I thought it was ready. It so wasn’t. But I revised and queried more and learned a lot from the process.
  • DUET – I’ve shared this story here, but I missed a critical step with this project. I never considered that I was writing my character at the wrong age. By the time an agent requested an R&R, I’d already wasted opportunities with many of the agents at the top of my list. It’s finally what it should be, and I hope the agents who still have it will recognize that, but it’s time to make DEXELON my priority.

How do I know THE DEXELON TWINCIDENT is ready for agents? It’s not because it’s perfect. I’ve learned that it never will be. I could keep sending it to new CPs, and they’d keep giving me comments. That’s just how it works. Someone could send me something they think is perfect, and I’ll find things I think they should fix because we all read with different viewpoints. What it ultimately comes down to is that you have to trust you’ve made it as strong as you can. I’m at that point. I’ve gone through three rounds of full critiques, plus another round of the first third of the book, plus my family members who read just for enjoyment. I’ve weighed the comments I’ve received from all readers and decided what I needed to fix and what I felt should stay the way it is. I know it’s the best possible manuscript it can be … for now. If an agent has something more for me, I’ll take another look at it.

So, yesterday I sent THE DEXELON TWINCIDENT out into the world, but I’m being more cautious than ever. I started slow, and I’ll wait for responses before I send out more. I know the value of those first impressions, and I won’t waste them. In the meantime, I’ll wait. And pray. And start working on my next project.

How do you know it’s time to query? Any other tips?

Responses to “When Is It Time to Query?”

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Thanks, Krista! And I had help from many Team Krista friends to get this one ready. Carla, Lori and Erin all read the manuscript, and Anna-Marie helped out with my submission materials. So thank YOU once again for The Writers Voice.

  1. Akoss

    Oh my! You’re so courageous. Good luck!
    I also have to agree with you on starting slow. I know a lot of writers who do that.
    Sadly though I don’t have any tip on when you know it’s time to query. I’m guessing when you run out of things to fix? or re-write?
    Good luck again! 🙂

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Thank you! The timing is such a tricky thing. I just didn’t know what I was doing the first time, and the second time I got such a good response I kept going. So, I’m being extra-cautious with this one. We’ll see!

  2. Joanne Fritz

    Best of luck, Michelle! I’ll hope for good news for you. The title of your book is intriguing.

    I’ve been querying my second MG novel (never queried the first because I knew it needed too much work) and despite two requests for fulls (Yay!), I’ve had only rejections. With the feedback from those two full requests, I realize it still needs a heck of a lot more work. Eight drafts and quite a few beta readers/CPs and it’s still not right. So I thought I knew when it was time to query, but obviously I was wrong.Then again, I’ve only queried 26 agents. There are plenty more out there.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      It’s positive that the agents who had your fulls gave you feedback. Often they just send a form rejection. And if you’ve only queried 26, you definitely have many more opportunities with this project. I understand where you are, though. I’ve been there. Good luck with your revisions!


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