When to Query?

I’ve mentioned a few of my mistakes along this road to publishing. The first, self-doubt and the consequence of hiding my work for so long. Second, querying too soon. As aspiring authors, we all fall victim to this one. I’ve completed this awesome manuscript and now I want to put it out for publication, only after several rejection letters, I realize…it was not ready.

Recently, I did something I wish I had done the minute I had finished my re-writes and my edits. I hired an EDITOR. I know! I actually paid someone to edit my draft. She was a friend who edits for a magazine and I knew she was a stickler for detail.

Anyways, she looked over my work, at a reduced rate (thank goodness!) and boy was I shocked. RED INK everywhere. This is most likely one of my major pitfalls of querying too soon. I’m sure every editor and agent took one look at all my mistakes and shuffled my query to the side faster than a dog walker trying to avoid dog poop.

Now, before you start rushing out to hire someone to “fix” your work, keep this in mind. Editors are like anyone else, they have opinions, likes/dislikes, and strong conviction. Trust your instincts when it comes to their suggestions. My editor concentrated mostly on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure. She didn’t offer too much in the way of story structure, character development, or plot. She did mention a few things to look at and I took them to heart. If you are sensitive to critique I recommend taking it with a grain of salt (and maybe a tequila and lime).

I feel much more confident in sharing my work, now that I know it isn’t making all those “english types” cringe at the sight of my dangling participles and mixed metaphors.


About holliequeener

I am an author. Which is defined as "the person who originated or gave existence to anything." So in that sense, we are all authors of some sort. More specifically I am a writer of fiction. I am a member of the Romance Writer’s Association and an active Pine Mountain Poet Society member.
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6 Responses to When to Query?

  1. Jae says:

    I think in the beginning for a lot of us it’s hard to share our work with others because we can’t take criticism of our babies. But then we think it’s perfectly acceptable to send out a query letter and gain rejections that might have been avoided had we bothered to use a critique partner or two? That’s how I was a few years ago anyway. Now having tread the CP ground many times over the last several years, and even working with an editor, I can see how almost laughably early I queried my manuscript. Hopefully other writers see the point in your post and hold off on querying too early themselves. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Susan Bahr says:

    So, do you feel it was worth it? I’ve been editing my monstrous manuscript for the past two years off and on – and am ready to hire an editor. Seems like a good idea and that it worked for you.
    congrats – and hope it helps!

    • Susan,
      I can totally relate to the endless editing. To answer your question, absolutely, it was worth it. I trusted the person, and knew the person which I think is important. I paid a flat fee of $150 for my 52,000 word manuscript. She normally charges $50 an hour for consulting…so a bargain, I got! 😉 I can’t wait to send her book #2.

      As I said before, she focused more on grammar and punctuation as opposed to character/story.

      • Susan Bahr says:

        That’s great – and what a reasonable fee! I wonder, though, how to get feedback on the character/story -and isn’t that the scary part!? Procuring (what a great word) an editor is my next step. Then it’s onto the query letter.

  3. nicholeck says:

    Do you know of a good place to find freelance editors for your manuscript? I’m an English major and Editing minor, so you’d think I would know, but is there some official website that lists editors and how successful they’ve been?

    • I have been using a magazine editor, who is a friend of mine. I would be leary of using anyone that you don’t know and already have a good working relationship with. She proofed mainly for grammatical errors. I highly recommend it. Have you considered joining local writing groups or poetry groups? I have found great readers and editors there as well. Your local library might have additional information. I have also built relationships through this blog and would feel comfortable asking a couple of my readers on here to edit my work. I wish you the best!

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