Knowing When You’re Ready to Query

As a writer, I spend about half of my time feeling like everything I write is the bomb.com and the other half feeling like I’m an illiterate peon. I think this is pretty normal for writers. That said, this constantly shifting mentality makes it really hard to know whether your manuscript is ready to submit or not.

Are you trying to submit your manuscript early because you’re overconfident? Are you putting off submitting because you’re being to hard on yourself? How do you know when your manuscript is just right?

This is a hard question to answer, and I’ve certainly experienced both extremes. There are a couple things you can do to help decide if you’re ready. First, I can never stress enough the importance of critique partners and beta readers. First, they’ll help you whip your manuscript into shape so that it is ready to submit. Also, they have some distance from the manuscript and are more able to judge the quality.

I also suggest reading as much as possible. Published books, yes, but also unpublished works from your friends so that you can get a sense of what you’ll be competing against in the slush pile. Reading other people’s work helps you improve your own because you’ll notice different things when you’re reading for somebody else.

At the end of the day, though, you just have to trust your instinct. You’ll hit a point in revisions where you’re just tweaking and pushing words around without feeling like it’s really making a difference. You will probably be sick of your manuscript. You’ll know that you’ve done as much with it as you can, and now it’s time to push it out of the nest.

Once your manuscript is out of the proverbial nest, you can see how it’s doing. If you’re getting bites, then things are going well. If you’re not, then maybe pull the manuscript back for a bit and look over it again. Writing is all about trial and error.

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