Query Letter, Proposal, or Full Manuscript? By Linda S. Glaz

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Query Letter, Proposal, or Full Manuscript? By Linda S. Glaz

So there you have it. Some of the most common questions that agencies wish new writers would ask themselves. Yes, probably the most important initial step in the road to becoming an author, and most new writers skip right on past this crucial question.

Do I send them a query letter? Writer A has attended numerous conferences where multi-published authors have taught him the quirky ways that their letters found success on an agent/editor’s desk. Writer A writes the best query letter any agent has ever read. Why didn’t it move the agent to request more information?

Do I send a proposal? Writer B sat through three classes at a prestigious conference where she learned to write a killer proposal. Each of the instructors spent time with Writer B helping her hone the essentials of the proposal. Peer critiques proved that Writer B had created a solid and unique proposal with all of the elements soundly in place. Why didn’t the agent respond in a positive manner?

Should I send the full manuscript? Writer C did everything she’d learned in classes. She wrote her novel, found a critique group, attended classes, joined organizations, even formed a writers’ group in her local area. She wrote, rewrote, and wrote a fifth time. Then she sent her manuscript to a well-respected editor in the industry. Why didn’t the agent jump at her manuscript?

There is one simple answer to ALL of the above: the writer did not send what the agency requests in its submission guidelines. In fact, the writer didn’t even go to the site to get the guidelines. So the agency received her sci-fi novel, but they don’t handle sci-fi. The agency received her full manuscript, but they don’t want to see the full until they’ve seen her proposal. The agency didn’t do much with her query letter, because they want to see a full proposal, manuscript included. And the list goes on and on.

You see how simple it is? Each agency is unique. And, quite often, each agency wants to see something different.

Isn’t it respectful to send a query first? Not if an agent wants to dig right in if he/she likes what they read on the query. Don’t give them a chance to forget you if they want more. Shouldn’t they always want a proposal to see where they story’s going? Not if they want a query first. Many agents are very good at sorting through queries picking out what is best for them and which ones they would like to see more of. They know immediately that if you sent them a query for erotica and they don’t handle that they do not want to see more. No way they’ll want a query or proposal only, the story’s amazing. Why not simply send it along with the query? Many want to see your ability to write a proposal and link that with your manuscript if and when they decide to have a look. Plus, agents, I’ll admit, love to see that someone can follow directions. It bodes well for the relationship in the future.

Do I send a query? Do I send a proposal? Do I send the full?

Go the agency site and follow their directions to the letter!

1 Comment

  1. Rick Barry says:

    Good explanation, Linda. Send ’em what they say they want, not some other plan that offers more, or less, or something bizarre to knock their socks off and gain attention the wrong way.

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