Sunday, October 14, 2007

Query, Query, Partial, Full

I am unagented, and I sent out ten well-chosen (and researched) queries to some editors. I mentioned that they were simultaneous queries. Now I have three who have requested the manuscript—do I need to remind them that others are reading this?
It's not necessary to mention this unless one of them asks for an exclusive (then you can point out that a couple other editors have already expressed interest).

Recently, I have been asked to send a partial manuscript to two different editors. I'm wondering if I send the partial, will they actually be reading it to acquire? Or are they reading it to see if my next forty five pages or so lives up to the first fifteen? Are they just trying to be helpful? Am I asking you to be a mind reader? I suppose if I knew what they were reading for, it will help me with whether or not to submit now or wait until the manuscript is finished. I'm afraid they'll read the WIP pages and forget that it is, in fact, still a WIP. Also, do pre-published awards really matter to you in a query? Thanks, as always, for taking the time to answer questions and provide a format for us to argue with each other (civilly, of course!).
1. Assuming this is fiction, probably not.

2. Most likely.

3. No.

4. A little bit.

4a. As long as your were clear about that up front, there shouldn't be a problem.

5. Depends on whether I've heard of it.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why an editor, such as yourself, would bother with requesting a partial WIP. Why not just wait until the writer is finished?

Anonymous said...

I was wondering something along the same line-- why is the author sending queries for an incomplete manuscript? Unless you're maybe just a couple of weeks from finishing...

Anonymous said...

The manuscript was read by two different editors for critique at two different conferences. They have both requested seeing the rest of what I have, both knowing I am not finished - but am nearly there. I really don't know whether to wait and send a finished product or send what I have now. I'm afraid of losing the opportunity if I wait too long. One is a house that is completely closed even to queries (unless you have an agent).

Sorry if I wasn't clear enough in the original question.

Anonymous said...

I just came back from a conference at which two eds and an agent spoke. One of the ed's houses is completely closed. All said that their invitations to submit had no time limit, that all you had to do was refer to the conference in your query or cover, and that they're looking for outstanding material. I don't think it's advantageous to hurry something because you think you have to submit no later than x months after the conference. Unfinished is unfinished, and you don't know what you might pull apart and redo. Take your time, rewrite the book until you and your crit group are SURE it's done, and then submit.

Anonymous said...

I'm an editor, and I've extended this same invitation to certain authors at conferences. Anonymous 7:01 is absolutely right--take as much time as you need to make your manuscript the best it can possibly be. The editors have already seen from your first partial submission that you're a writer with potential. What they need to know now is if you can create a whole, satisfying story, so sending them another chunk of it rather than the complete thing isn't going to be very helpful. And of course most times you only have one chance to make a great impression, and the best way to do that is to wait until your novel is complete and highly polished.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the helpful comments. I guess I'm just stuck back at why did they ask in the first place? I didn't solicit. I would have been more than happy with a "submit when you're finished" if that was the truth.

Okay! On to finishing...

Kidlitjunkie said...

Conferences aside, I once requested a partial on a query I found in the slush. The author responded by sending me a letter explaining that the MS wasn’t quite ready yet, but he didn’t want me to think he had forgotten about me, and he was really pleased that I was interested, and the partial would be following in a couple of months, as soon as he finished making it good enough.

I was kind of really annoyed. It’s not like I sit on pins and needles waiting for a requested MS to come in—I often leave them sitting unopened on my desk when they arrive anyway for a few days, due to lack of time, so you certainly don’t need to send me a special letter just to tell me that you’ll send the MS later.

But really, if you’re querying, you should have something ready to go. Were you assuming that no one would be interested in your novel, that it was such a long shot that you didn’t have to actually have something ready to go out? That’s kind of dumb.

Anonymous said...

I think they were assuming they'd have to wait eleventy-nine months for a response, which is so often the case.

As for the letter, I agree it was unnecessary, even came across as a bit self-important, and that nobody should be under the impression that editors are waiting with bated breath for all or any one of the mss. they've expressed interest in. But writers know that the market is fickle and they're trying to capitalize on expressed interest before their genre downturns, or the editor fills all the slots with other projects, or jumps houses, or goes to agent-only. Cut the writer a break for trying to come up with a reasonable compromise between "Do I send what I have, since editors usually want more work on it anyway?" and "Do I wait months until I think I'm done, and the editor might want more work on it anyway?"

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