Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are You Query Ready?

For those of you who frequent my blog, you probably know I just attended my first writer's conference and that I absolutely loved agent Tina Wexler. Not just because she is a fireball in this tiny Brooklyn package, but because she had some EXCELLENT advice!

Now it is my turn to share the love...

Here are some things Tina Wexler says you need to do before you are ready to query:

-Finish your manuscript: This should be a no brainer, but man do we want that feedback. She suggests you get that from others and query when you're done. I mean, what if they request a full and you can't deliver? Whoops.

- Manuscript is revised: And she means in a BIG way, around 30-50% big. And by revised, she means chunks taken out, chunks added, scenes moved around, characters added, altered or deleted. You get the picture. Revise your butt off.

- Read out loud: Preferably by another person while you listen. This makes total sense to me because she said we read our MS the way we want it to be read. If someone reads it out loud we may find one character we loved sounds needy and annoying when read by someone else.

- Chapter by chapter outline: As boring as it is, this will lay it all out there. You can really see what is cohesive and what isn't.

- Timeline: For the same reasons above. You may find some big gaps in time or snafus you hadn't realized before.

- Have a conversation with your protagonist: She suggests at every pivotal point in your MS, stop and ask the protag what would happen if he/she chose a different route. We as writers might try to make it easier on our characters in order to essentially make it easier on us, the writers, but is it what's best for your manuscript?

- READ: And not just beta reads, but read three books in the genre you are writing in that have been published in the last year.

- Get some betas: And if they tell you that your MS is fabulous, get another. They aren't really helping. Also make sure they are in the know about the genre and age group you are writing.

- Take some time off: 2 weeks, no touching the darn thing!

- Edit for voice: Once all of the above is done, go back and edit for voice. Tina says writers can grow attached to the words that get us to the end, but by going back and adding in some voice, it can really enhance our MS.

and last...

-Query because you think you are ready: Not because you are sick of looking at your manuscript and you want some feedback.

Good advice eh? What do you think? Are you ready to query? Do you do some or any of these things before hitting the query craze?

And just a reminder, if you haven't signed up for the Killer Characters Blogfest yet...you should! It'll be a scream:)


Sarah Tokeley said...

I particularly love that last one :-)

Christine Murray said...

This is a great list. Wish I knew how to bookmark it! ;)

E. Arroyo said...

Great list! Thanks,

Unknown said...

I love this, and I have to say I've actually nailed quite a few of them!!! You've also given me a reason to run to the bookstore and make sure I pick up three brand new women's fiction novels. I knew I needed to stop in here today, you make me feel guilt-free about buying a good book!

Deana said...

Sarah- Me too! It got a big laugh at the conference...only because so many people are guilty of doing it:)

Christine- Thanks! I'm not real techy here, but on my computer there is a star in the right hand corner you click on and then save the page that way. I wish I could help more. Anyone else know a better way?

E- Thanks, I thought it was great too:)

Jen- ANytime I can help fuel the reading addiction, I'll be there:) I've got to say, this made me particularly excited too. And you know what, so many people at the conference talked about reading being like the college for writers so we have to schedule time for it. Yes!

Angela Cothran said...

This is wonderful advice. Crazy how logical it sounds coming from someone else, but some of them I wouldn't have thought of myself. Especially the reading aloud one.

Christa Desir said...

Stephen King says take 6 weeks off at the very least before you go back through for your first past revisions. Brutal, but it totally works! We are so goal-oriented, but sometimes, the manuscript needs to marinate before you can really see what is wrong with it.

Loree Huebner said...

I'm a big believer in reading out loud. When I do a final read through, I read the entire book out loud for flow and mistakes.

You can hear any mistake or flow change when you read it out loud.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Editing for voice is huge, and I'm glad that you point it out after the manuscript is revised (and not just after the finished draft!). Ensuring that the storyline gets to the end is not the same as ensuring each piece of dialogue, etc, showcases voice/character.
My least favorite is the chapter outlines, which is why I'm trying to do them as I go. Plus, it helps me keep the plot lines straight at this stage of my drafting.
Thanks for sharing!

Shiela Calderón Blankemeier said...

Great advice! Thanks for sharing your conference info with us :)

Jennie Bennett said...

That is fantastic advice! i am so surprised so many send in their MS becasue they are looking for feedback. I would be mortified to know that I sent in a sloppy work to an agent, talk about burning a bridge!

Nancy Thompson said...

Yes, thanks to you and your last blogfest over the summer, my query and my manuscript are both ready to go! Thanks, Deana!

Sara Bulla said...

This was fabulous! Thank you for these gems! I am inching my way to being Query Ready...but I can see now that there are a few more loose ends to tie up. Thank you for your post. So helpful. And thanks for your positive comments about my mini-van efforts. :) Thanks!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I can't really read out loud because it makes my voice tired. But these are all good points.

J E Fritz said...

That's an excellent list. By looking at it, I can tell I'm no where near ready to query. I promise I won't send it in before it's ready :)

Shallee said...

Fabulous advice! This is a very complete checklist. I've done all of these before, and they all help bring the manuscript to a new level! Reading aloud was a big help to me, and so was taking a break. I actually took a full month away from it, and it helped so much!

Thanks for sharing, Deana.

Deana said...

Angie- I wouldn't have thought that either, but I guess I do write the way I want people to read it.

Christa- I read that too! I guess main thing to take from these pros is take time off.

Loree- Good for you! That is going to be a hard one for me, but I'm sure it has to be so helpful.

Liza- Great idea doing the outlines at the same time. I hate doing those to. THat might ease my burden more.

Sheila- You're very welcome:)

JA- I know, I guess it's true thought:)

Nancy- I love hearing things like that! YAY! You have to let us know how it goes:)

Sara- I'm glad I could help. And yes, I loved your minivan idea!

Michael- I feel your pain:)

JE- I'm right there with you...so not ready yet:)

Shallee- I think I'm hearing overall that reading out loud is important. I'm doing it this time. I'm telling you I will:)

Unknown said...

Fantastic! I, too, promise not to query until I'm ready, and definitely not just for feedback. :)
(It'll still be a while.)

Kaylee Baldwin said...

This is a great list. I just went to my first writing conference this year as well, and I thought: I've been missing out on this my whole life?!! I'm hoping to go to at least one a year from now on.

My ms is query ready. Will be diving in within the next 4 weeks and sending them out. :/

Deana said...

Juliemybird- Yea me too!I just finished my first draft today and am raring to go on the next steps:)

Kaylee- Awesome! I love hearing that people are getting it written and getting it ready:) Good luck!

Juliana L. Brandt said...

This is fabulous! Great tips...and boy does it make me think how much work I have left to do. Lol ;)

Emily R. King said...

I love the last bit: querying when you know you're ready. Ain't that the truth! Thanks Deana and Tina!

Jenny S. Morris said...

Wow, this is a great list. I am working my way slowly through most of it already. But, I really like the last one. Because I can see myself just wanting it to be over. LOL. I really want to go to a confrence. Soon.

Karen M. Peterson said...

Those are all some really great tips. Thank you so much for sharing! It sounds like you had a fantastic experience at this writers conference.

Kelly said...

Great list! Thanks,