Baby Evil Writers 101: When to Query
We’ve talked about a lot of things here my evil darlings but, we haven’t covered when to query your evil manuscript of doom. I made the mistake of querying too soon and suffered (and rightly so) the hordes of rejection letters and pangs of baby evil writer growth spurts.
I don’t want that for you, my malevolent dears. So I have a baby evil check list for you before you send your firstborn into the world.
1. You have a completed manuscript. It can’t be part, it can’t be almost. You must have finished the entire thing. There isn’t an exception for this rule unless you write non-fiction. Not ever and not past ever. So that would be NEVER.
2. You have already started another story. Not the sequel to the first thing you wrote—a new story. I know you want to immediately go to the next book in your series. I know this and I did this. But sweet heathens, the market changes . What sells today won’t necessarily get you a book deal next week. I’m not trying to burst your lovely bubble but this is an industry fact. Start something different. The submission process takes months and even years. You need something new to keep you going when the rejections come in.
3. You have sent this manuscript to a critique group, or to a professional editor with a good reputation, and you have made sweeping changes in the story and to the characters. If you haven’t done this. Stop thinking about submitting your manuscript to Agents and Editors. Stop right this minute! No one can write without a reader’s opinion. Even big name authors have beta-readers. You cannot count your family or your close non-writer friends in this tally.
4. You have read your manuscript out loud at least three times. This is an important step for all true minions of evil. You catch mistakes like crazy-town and you will improve your work, guaranteed. Evil is as Evil does. Unless your friends, family, and the people at the coffee shop think you are insane, you’re not finished.
5. You have put this manuscript aside for at least three months and worked on something else. Time may heal all puss-filled wounds but in addition, it gives you clearer eyes for your own work. Our minds are funny things, my dears, and absence makes them clearer and able to see the giant infested plot holes of doom.
6. You have line-edited your work for punctuation errors or sent your work to a line editor to be corrected. Some editors and agents can see past where the comma fairy pooped all over your work. Others run screaming into the dark to nurse the migraine your manuscript caused. Probably blinding pain will not get you representation or a book deal.
7. You have mentally prepared yourself for rejection and have physically stocked your lair with chocolate, liquor, or whatever items help you to conquer despair.
8. You have researched agents and editors to make sure they not only represent the genre you write, but are open to and accepting unsolicited queries. Personally, I tend to remember the names of people who defy my wishes right to my virtual face. Don’t be that person.
9. You have spent more than a week perfecting your query letter and have gotten awesome reviews on it from your beta readers.
10. You have scourged the idea of self-publishing if you haven’t sold within a few months from your psyche. I will take my ball and go home or find someone else to play with doesn’t cut it in this industry. True evil lasts forever. You have to be ready for the long haul. Sure, lightning can strike. But how many times have you personally been hit?
That’s what I thought.