Today's post is brought to you by the loverly Shannon Messenger. She recently signed with literary agent Laura Rennert, after only two weeks of querying! If you're not following Shannon's blog, you're totally missing out. And today, she's got some great advice for us on how to know when your draft -- and your query letter -- are ready to send out.
So I give you: Shannon.
You did it! You finished a whole book! You finally have something you’re not only proud of, but that you think will sell.
Awesome! Well done you. Now, it’s time to query!
Or is it?
How do you know that you’re REALLY ready to query?
I’ll admit, I struggled with that question. All right, FINE—my friends had to drag me into the querying pool kicking and screaming. I’m a baby. But I’ve since put a lot of thought into this, because I was curious to know how my friends could be so positive that I was ready (since they knew I would kill them if they set me up for epic failure). And it really comes down to 3 things:
Your Draft: You know your draft is ready when you’ve gotten positive feedback from a number of CPs—and no, I don’t mean your spouse/parent/BFF. I mean honest, brutal CPs who aren’t afraid to tell you when your draft is made of suckage. If they think you’re ready, you probably are.
Your Query: Writing a good query letter is HARD, so I’m a big believer in seeking professional assistance. (I personally used an online query workshop and had an additional query critique.) It’s not expensive and it’s SO worth it. But if that’s not in your budget, have your CPs help. It’s also good to have a few people who know nothing about the project read and give you their thoughts. You’ll be surprised at the things they notice.
You: Ask yourself if you’re ready to face the rejections—because rejections WILL come. Are you passionate enough about your project to keep going when you run into obstacles? And do you really believe that this is not only the best draft you’ve ever written—but the best draft you’re capable of writing right now? Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression with an agent, so don’t query a project just because you’re proud of yourself for finishing. Wait until you’re querying your BEST work.
If you examine those three areas and come up with the right answers, you’re ready to query. It may still mean a lot of frustration and rejection. But it’ll also pay off, and you’ll end up announcing to the world that you signed with your dream agent. And when you do, we’ll all be there to celebrate right along with you.
So what about you guys. How did you know when you were ready to query? Did I miss anything?