A friend of mine is currently querying agents, and after reading his blog post, I couldn’t help but wonder what made someone really sure, as a writer, that their work is ready. Really, it all boils down to you feeling like there’s not a single change you could make to your work that would make it better. Since that’s not realistic, in my opinion, I’ve come up with a few suggestions to help you determine whether you’re ready to query.
- You’ve said all you have to say. In this sense, you are writing with a specific point in mind, and your writing has achieved that point. You can’t make it any better and you feel as though your mind is at ease with the message you’ve delivered.
- You’ve edited your work. No one, not even J.K. Rowling, is above editing their work. For me, this is the worst stage of the process because it’s the hardest and most grueling. You may have to “kill your darlings” and cut entire sections that you were married to. In the editing stage, you can’t cling to anything. If it needs to go, it goes.
- Someone else has read it. I’m terrible at this. So many times I’ll send off short stories to contests without having someone read it first, and you know what happens? I don’t win. Why? Because I’m only taking into account my own interests and style. There are times where we are so hung up on the way our story has to go that we don’t consider the reader. Always consider the reader.
- You’re ready to hear the word “no”. Sorry to bring you down, but if you think you’re going to hear “yes” by every agent on your list on your first round of querying, you’re not ready. I don’t know if that’s ever happened in the history of querying, actually. Be prepared to be rejected, and be prepared for feedback. Once in a while you’ll find an agent who gives you a word of advice. Take it, ingest it, and try it. Even if you don’t agree, at least try it out. It may be the best thing you ever do for yourself.
Obviously I hope you’re ready to query, because I’m ready to read more amazing books! I have a huge lineup of books to tackle during my week break between classes, so come the beginning of March, be ready for a “Book a Day” marathon where I speed read through Monstrous (MarcyKate Connolly), Stardust (Neil Gaiman), The 5th Wave (Rick Yancey), and a few others I’m waiting on in the mail. (I’m looking at you, USPS, FIND MY MISSING BOOKS!)