I May Have Committed a Query Sin

I don’t know, but I may have committed a major query no-no last night.  (I’m pretty sure it’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last, either.) 

An agent requested a partial in June, but I haven’t heard anything back on it.  Now, I can only assume that it (a) hasn’t been read yet, or (b) was read, but not loved. 

I suspect (b) is the situation.  My manuscript may be set aside to see if something better comes along.  Ouch.  Anyway, since I sent off the partial in June, I’ve revised my first chapter so it starts out with more action, kind of in the middle of a major event.  In the rewritten version, the reader finds the MC confused about how she ended up laying on the mall food court floor – the last she remembered she was in the parking lot.  The reader has to keep going to figure out what’s going on. 

My original draft had a fairly long stasis (depiction of normal for MC) – I learned that term last week in my manuscript writing class…do I sound like a writer now?  No?  Well, I have 16 more weeks to get there!  This version started out with imagery and internal dialog (daydreaming) before the trigger event (witness to murder) occurs.  It took three full pages to get there.

Rather than wait for the impending ‘no thanks,’ I sent another email to the agent and explained that I forwarded the first 50 pages on request in June, but since then, I revised chapter 1.  I attached the revised first 50 so the agent wouldn’t have to send me an email to ask for it.

I have no idea if the follow up email, revision or attachment will irritate the agent or not.  I’ve heard a ‘nudge’ after sixty days on a partial is acceptable, although this can sometimes push the agent to a ‘no.’

So, I confess my possible query sin.  My punishment may be no response from the agent…or it could be a lightning-quick ‘no’…or I could be rewarded with a request for more pages.  No matter what, I cannot promise I won’t do it again.  The payoff far outweighs consequences 🙂

Have you committed a query faux pas?  If so, please share…I’d love to know how it worked out!

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22 thoughts on “I May Have Committed a Query Sin

  1. alijayd August 30, 2010 / 2:36 PM

    I am just atarting out with my first book having been encouraged to do so by various friends and family. It’s a struggle but great fun. One day maybe it will be finished enough to send to a publisher.

    • jannatwrites August 30, 2010 / 8:20 PM

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. Good luck to you on your journey! Just keep focused on your love of writing and you’ll be fine 🙂

  2. jpcabit August 31, 2010 / 5:04 AM

    Well, once I queried an agent at an email address she specifically said not to use. 😀 lol

    I think you did what you thought you should do. So don’t worry about it. And why not be a little crazy in life? Somebody’s gotta try things out. 🙂

    • jannatwrites August 31, 2010 / 9:29 AM

      Wow…that was bold! Did you get any kind of response? (Just curious). Glad I’m not alone in the rule bending, anyhow 🙂

      • jpcabit August 31, 2010 / 3:18 PM

        I actually fixed it, I sent it to her agent address and apologized. Um, I got a no. Connected, do you think? 🙂

        • jannatwrites August 31, 2010 / 5:32 PM

          I think you made an impression 😉

      • jpcabit August 31, 2010 / 5:36 PM

        lololol ya think? 😀

  3. Lua August 31, 2010 / 10:25 AM

    Jenna I don’t think you sinned, I think 60 days is a good period of time to wait for a nudge. If the agent doesn’t want to represent your MS then at least s/he can say a “no” so you can start querying other people…
    I haven’t started to query yet but I’m sure I’m going to sin… A LOT! 🙂

    • jannatwrites August 31, 2010 / 11:26 AM

      Thanks for your perspective, Lua!  I was actually more concerned about sending the attached revised pages than the nudge itself…but I’m not losing sleep over it or anything because I think I was looking at a ‘no’ anyway 🙂 

  4. bogjuice August 31, 2010 / 5:52 PM

    I’m in the same boat. I am thinking of revising my first couple of chapters as well. Honestly, I’ve committed a query sin as well. I accidentally sent the same agent a query twice. I understand how you feel. Oh well..

    • jannatwrites August 31, 2010 / 10:29 PM

      Oooh. I feel like I’ve got a query confessional going here 🙂 You know what? I almost did the same agent twice, too. And I have sent to 2 agents in the same office (accidentally) – I didn’t discover that one until it was done. Oops.

      Best of luck on your revisions. I know how hard it can be!

      • jpcabit September 1, 2010 / 11:30 AM

        Revising the beginning is death-defyingly difficult. Kind of like redoing the foundation on a skyscraper, no? 🙂

        • jannatwrites September 1, 2010 / 11:40 AM

          Ha, ha great analogy! I guess it could be–depending on what is changed (to keep the building analogy, it could send a ripple through the entire structure and send the whole thing crashing to the ground).

          Luckily, mine was a less intensive change. The same events happened, but I just started the story in a different place. She still left the mall, saw a murder, fainted and woke up in the food court, but I changed it where it opens with her waking up in the food court and the rest of the details are patched in throughout the chapter. Two test readers thought it worked, so I’m going to take chance on it 🙂

      • jpcabit September 1, 2010 / 1:42 PM

        Oh, that’s not that hard. With my change of beginning, I kept ending up at the same place…the kitchen table. Anyway, I changed it from the kitchen table to a mysterious errand in a government HQ. I think that should do the trick, lol 🙂

  5. 2blu2btru September 2, 2010 / 3:52 AM

    I’ve never queried before, but I did submit to the university’s literary awards for a novel in progress when I was a junior in undergrad. It was taking FOREVER for them to get back to me, so I finally went in to the office listed and asked. They had chosen (and notified) the winners and the rest of the NIPs were in the office to be picked up. I felt horrid because I had rushed to have enough pages ready to submit, and afterwards, I found all kinds of flaws and changed direction in some places. I made a promise to myself then that I would never submit anything that wasn’t “done” (but are we ever really done?)…then I submitted to two contest for the same day less than a year later…both with extremely rushed endings that were also changed afterwards…I have a hard head…and a procrastination problem! (I prefer the term “writer’s block”

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2010 / 6:29 AM

      I agree with you…it is so easy to send in something that’s not polished because every time you look at a written piece, there’s always something to change. So, in that sense, it’s true – it’s never really done.

      I just did that last night…I sent out a query with my first 3 chapters. AFTER I did that, I remembered that I wanted to scan throgh it and check my adverb usage. Dang. I like the word quickly too much.

      Yes, writer’s block is a much nicer label than procrastinator or hard-headed…we can go with that 🙂

  6. Cities of the Mind September 2, 2010 / 7:19 AM

    Well, I either they’ve read the first one and didn’t like it, so you have nothing to lose, or they haven’t (for whatever reason) read the first one you sent, so you aren’t wasting their time.

    Either way you have a better version, the biggest sin would be not to send it in.

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2010 / 7:44 PM

      Hey, I like that perspective. Even if the agent doesn’t see it the same way, what’s done is done. Thanks!

  7. T.S. Bazelli September 2, 2010 / 2:22 PM

    I’m not at the stage where I can send out any queries yet, but I’m sure I’ll make a lot of mistakes. Good luck!

    P.S. There’s an award for you on my blog 😀

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2010 / 7:49 PM

      I’m sure I’ll make more mistakes, too. I don’t know if anyone can make it through the process goof-free 🙂 If we did that, what would the agents complain about on their blogs!

      Thanks for the award! I’ll check it out this evening 🙂

  8. chlost September 4, 2010 / 2:13 PM

    Learning, even through mistakes, is still good. But how bad could it be? You have your name and your book in front of someone who needs to see it.
    It gets your name/manuscript into their brain.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2010 / 8:40 PM

      True enough 🙂 I’ve done my part; whether or not the person reads it is out of my hands!

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