re: Query Quandary

in Submissions/Teen/Middle Grade Fiction by

Dear Editor…

I have written a few query letters for my picture books, and sent them off to many editors, with no
success. I decided to write a Middle grade novel and try to get it published first… Question is: Can I query it before I finish? And is it bad to query the editors I have already queried for my picture book?

Sincerely,

Christina

Dear Christina…

It’s not unheard of to query before you finish your manuscript. This is one way to lessen your waiting time between query and response. You’re not really waiting if you’re still writing, right? However, while the logic is there, there’s risk in this maneuver. Should you get a speedy reply asking for materials, you wouldn’t have anything to send and would have to hem and haw or make up excuses for your delay. Or worse, you’d rush out with something before it’s thoroughly cooked. Leaving a request for more dangling is always a little hinky. The agent may wonder if you’re flaky or not as serious about him/her as you claimed to be in the query, and the last thing you want to do is give agents a reason to narrow their eyes suspiciously. Most writers send in their material within hours or days of the request for more.  If you’re going to query before your manuscript is done, make sure the ms is really really darned close to being done.

If the editors you queried for your picture book also handle MG fiction, then yes, query them for your novel. They didn’t reject you, just that particular picture book.

Happy writing!

The Editor

4 Comments

  1. The editor is being very kind. NO NO NO NEVER QUERY UNTIL you are 100% DONE.
    Also query Agents, Editors are harder to get to. Research the best one FOR YOUR Project and follow their guidelines. Most agents have blogs or are on twitter. Read up on them and make sure you’re a good fit.
    Good luck

    • I’m always a bit skeptical of the “find the agent that fits you best” as Erin suggested. It’s as if the newbie writer has real choices. Maybe the lucky ones. The rest of us may target a few agents, our dreams, but we also just query agents, any agents that cover our genre. I, for one, am not in a position to be picky. Any agent that responds positively becomes my new best friend…regardless. btw, still searching for “best friends” for my second book.

  2. Most editors are willing to see full picture books, not queries. Did any of them ask to see the manuscript? If not, perhaps you were querying where you shouldn’t. If so, perhaps your picture book isn’t working. I know when I started many manuscripts I thought were picture books were really magazine stories.

    I also would recommend you have the novel done before you query. How do you know you can finish it? Many people start novels and don’t finish them.

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