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book inc  –  journal  –  Two Approaches to Querying Your Novel
11/28/22

Two Approaches to Querying Your Novel

In our recent Book Revision Lab meeting, we spoke about querying agents. We wondered: When is the right time? Do I start with my top choice? How do I know when I’m really done? And the question that raised the most discussion: After I’ve queried, do I stop working on that book project and move on to the next? OR do I keep revising my book, even while I have queries out, continuing to make the manuscript better?

Approach #1: Query and Move On To the Next Novel

Pausing revising while I’m currently querying is the approach I plan to take. I’ve been living in this novel for about three years and I want to imagine a new novel with new characters living in a new world. This approach may have some cons such as I may miss a revision opportunity. Or perhaps because I’ve stopped revising, I may miss some small mistakes. But there are many pros to this approach. A break will bring clarity, my mind will wander as I freely draft a new story. And the main reason I’m using this approach is that when I do revisit the old manuscript I’ll be refreshed and excited to pick it up again. 

 Approach #2 Query and Continue to Revise Your Current Novel

My fellow Book Revision Lab writer, Renee Walsh, has taken the opposite approach. Renee plans to continue to revise her work while at the same time querying agents. Once Renee got her manuscript to a draft she was confident sharing, she sent out a few queries. This approach motivates her because an agent could make a full request at any time and she wants her manuscript to be in tip-top shape. 

I admire the real-time querying. It makes revision feel more active and keeps the writer engaged with the outside world. Writing queries and thinking about how to best pitch her work to an agent also gives Renee great perspective on her story’s place in the publishing marketplace and can inform how she revises.

Of course, there is no right or wrong approach. When you query and how you revise is up to you. But what is important is to have a community of writers that will continue to support you on your writing and querying journey.