When in Doubt, Query

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jul 31 2009

I’m considering submitting my manuscript to you, but before I do, I was wondering if you would prefer NOT to see a submission on a book that’s already been submitted to a publisher?

Well, that depends . . . is the book with one publisher or has it already been seen and rejected by every publisher I could possibly think of? This isn’t a decision I can make based on a question like this. Like a lot of the questions I receive, this is a decision I would have to make based on the query letter.

While agents have certainly posted a number of rules on query letters over the years, I think if you read them all through you might see that we really aren’t asking for all that much. Sure, things irritate us and yes we often post about them. That’s what a lot of our blogs are for and that might be where the confusion comes in. The truth though is that we don’t know until we’ve read it; sometimes that means the query and sometimes that means the book.

When in doubt, just send the query. The worst that will happen is you’ll get rejected.


10 responses to “When in Doubt, Query”

  1. Good advice. I can't imagine submitting a manuscript to agents that has already been rejected by every possible publisher. "Here you go. See if YOU can do something with it because I can't." Is that the mentality? Why not give the agent first crack at getting it out there?

  2. Tough situation for a writer to be in. If it were me, I'd probably move forward with the next project. However, if a writer is committed to a project that was shopped but not sold, I'd agree with you – when in doubt, send it out!

  3. Avatar Kim Kasch says:

    So….kinda like that Nike motto: just do it


  4. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes, thought I like those but not really sure if I want to put the money out there to buy them, and then decided I really wish I had bought them, decided to go back to get them but couldn’t remember where they were at? I wonder and suspect this happens with manuscripts, so I definitely would give it another go. It’s possible that it was quite right at the time but is now.


  5. Avatar jfaust says:

    Oh Marie. It's so rare that I ever passed up a pair of shoes I even kinda sorta wanted.


  6. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Were a lot of the rejections from publishers that do not take unagented submissions? If so would a submission by an agent get it past an automatic rejection?

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I'm in a different situation. I have a novel that through a contest is being considered by a major publisher. I would feel much better having an agent if they make an offer.

    As always thanks for the information.

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    That was a bad comparison then. I always do that with everything I buy, I am so picky. My mom used to tell me to pick one piece of candy and I'd stand in front of the candy section the entire time she shopped and still hadn't picked something out by the time she was done. Some times I’d walk out with nothing when Mom got tired of waiting. That was a whole different era when it was safe enough to let your kids out of sight. Gave away my age there a little bit, didn’t I?


  9. It must be hard to move on if you are certain what you have is really good!

    Its easy to get to work on another manuscript for me but the ones that are finished sit there and haunt me….
    I would never have submitted to a publisher first though. All the information out there warns against it.

  10. Avatar AstonWest says:

    When in doubt, just send the query. The worst that will happen is you’ll get rejected.
    And won't be able to query that agent again for the same project, most likely…