Thursday, May 28, 2009

Slow down on your submitting

So, the question came up from another writer as to how soon a writer should submit a new manuscript to an editor or agent. This is really a tough call, but I do think there are some issues we can look at that will better answer the questions.

Let's start first with submitting a 2nd manuscript before you have heard back from the first one. Surprisingly I see this a lot. A writer will submit two stories back to back. Sometimes the same day if it is an email query but more likely the submissions will come with a couple of days between the submissions. I am sorry to say but this is a seriously wrong move. While you might want to be showing the editor or agent that you have a lot to offer, you are working yourself into a serious hole. If manuscript A is bad, then I will already be thinking about those things in manuscript B. Not good. Along the same lines, if there are issues in A that can be fixed, and you get comments back, you need to make sure B doesn't do it either. The deal is that you want to show the editor or agent that you can make revisions and fix the problems. In this case, refer back to my comments about revision letters.

So let's try this one. You receive a rejection for manuscript A. Do you immediately, that day send out a second query for a new manuscript? Again, the answer is NO. Take the time to insure you have not made the same mistakes in manuscript B. The other issue is the message you might be sending to an editor or agent. Whenever I see this, I get the thought the person is just throwing manuscripts at me say "What about this one?" Certainly not a marketing approach.

O.K. here is scenario #3. An editor or agent says manuscript A isn't working but doesn't hate it. Along with that, they leave the door open saying if you have something else, send it. The answer is you send it right there and then. Don't wait on this one. You have them hooked and you don't want to lose the momentum. Of course this does lead into the argument of having more than one manuscript ready to go before you submit.

The key to all of this is to THINK! Consider what they want and show the editor or agent you are professional.



  1. I am trying really hard to understand all this stuff. It is not easy either:(. I submitted a partial to an agent I thought would love my historical, and she sent me back a polite rejection that basically said: she was intregued by the premise but she felt that the work was rushed and I didn't give her enough time to get to know the characters.
    She thanked me and wished me the best of luck with my writing. That was encouraging so, I queried her on another ms I have finished but after reading your post I think I probably shouldn't have? Maybe I should have emailed her to ask if I reworked the original book would she look at it again, since she liked the premise? You see how confusing this is?

  2. Theres nothing confusing about that. She didn't like your style. Period. Don't wast the postage. When are people going to learn the proper way of things. Hounding a person isn't going to make them buy or represent anything. Move on if you want to make it in the business.

  3. ** Take the time to insure you have not made the same mistakes in manuscript B.**

    How true! When I was submitting one book, I got to work on the second. Was getting a lot of rejections, so the finished manuscript ended up in front of a writer's group. Their comments showed me some problems--and worse, I realized that I'd done exactly the same thing in the next book!

  4. Great post Scott. I've been guilty of doing this and sometimes it's nice to be reminded.
    And Em,
    Chin up:) I sorry that didn't worked out better for you.

  5. Thanks Babs:). I just get discouraged sometimes but I'll be okay.
    Have you seen Murphy around or is she still in time out?LOL

  6. Em-
    I think sending a new manuscript was fine in this case. I honestly believe if she felt there was enough there, should would have said to send a revision. Besides, if she likes #2 then you can go back to #1 later on.

  7. Anon,

    Actually, the comment in Em's post doesn't say she doesn't like the style. This is a plot and pacing issue. I see this a lot when writers try too hard to force the characters together. Writers seem to feel that characters have to be immersed in problems by the end of the first chapter. Hey, take three chapters if you want.