Thursday, October 8, 2015

3 NanoWriMo: 3 Agents on: How Soon is Too Soon to Query?

October is one of my favorite months of the year (what with Halloween and all) but right around the corner is November and if you're a writer that means Nano Season. Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?

The site explains it like this:

"National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30."

I've done it! And I look forward to participating again. But with Nano comes quite a bit of stigma -- and many questions. So to find out how agents view Nano, I've asked several some probing questions, which will be featured on Thursdays this month. Hopefully it will assist some writers who are unsure whether to make the commitment or not.

Let's start with question number 1!

What is "too soon" when it comes to querying a NaNo manuscript?

Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Lit

The same year it’s written. The end of the year really starts to fizzle in terms of submissions – most agents and editors are looking to clear desks in time for the New Year rather than take on more. So, it’s to an author’s interests to take the time to revise rather than rush.

I’d also say it’s too soon if it hasn’t been through at least several revisions (including author and beta reads).

Sarah Megibow of KT Literary

Great question! Rather than thinking about “too soon” or “too late” for a NaNo manuscript, think in terms of “when is it 100% ready?”

In theory, a writer might finish a manuscript in 30 days and have it 100% polished and ready to go on December 1. That’s unlikely but heck - anything is possible! In general I would recommend typing “the end” on November 30 and then planning a hefty amount of time for editing and polishing. “Too soon” is the date in which a manuscript is submitted for publishing consideration before it has been fully edited and polished.

Here’s my process = I read query letters and look for superior craft plus a unique concept. I would never reject a query on Dec 1 just because the writer finished typing it the day before. However, I will always pass on a query that doesn’t demonstrate superior writing. Finish the book and then make sure it’s edited and polished. Then, send the query letter and don’t worry about the date.

Melissa Nasson of RPC Content

A manuscript should be complete, fully fleshed out, and as polished as possible before querying agents. The time required will vary from person to person depending on individual circumstances, so I can't say that there's any amount of time where I'd necessarily say "whoa, too soon!"...except maybe early December. Finishing a manuscript is an amazing accomplishment and super exciting, and there's an urge to get it out there ASAP, but taking the extra time and attention to fully develop and polish your work can make a world of difference when it comes time to query.


  1. I love this post! It really aligns with "the slow and steady wins the race". Thanks for all the advice!

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