Skip to main content

Should You Include Pages With Your Query?

Q. When a listing [agent] says they get back to us on queries in X amount of time and on manuscripts in Y amount of time, what does this mean? Unless the listing specifically says no manuscripts without queries first, is it all right to send a manuscript without a query?
- Dan

A. The first part of your question is pretty simple. It means that if you send in a query for review and they promise to get back to you within six weeks, they will do just that. They will either say "no thanks" or say "Interesting. Send more so I can read it." Manuscripts take longer to review, so an agent's timeframe on that is longer. When writers send in their work, they want to know how soon they will hear back with a yea/nay. This is just an agent's way of answering that for them.
Usually an agent/agency will request exactly what it wants in terms of a submission. If an agent says "Query. Send no mss," then it's obvious that you should query only. However, if an agency says "Query us," that, too, means send a query only. Just because they didn't specifically stop and say not to send a ms doesn't mean they want writers to include it. Simply follow their guidelines to a T.
Even if you disagree with me on this (and I know some of you do) and will send in pages regardless, I highly advise sending only the first five pages, not any more let alone the whole ms. (You are just wasting postage.) And if you're saying, "But my story doesn't get good till page 7! Can't I just send in the first 10 pages?", then you need to go back and rewrite your first chapter so it gets interesting quicker.
But again, do what the agent requests. That's my best advice.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is forgetting to read.

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Sharing even a fraction of our feelings with our characters will help our stories feel more authentic. Here, Kris Spisak explains how to tap into our memories to tell emotional truths on the page.

Poetic Forms

Trinet: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the trinet, a seven-line form based on word count.

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Debut novelist Tammye Huf discusses how her own familial love story inspired her historical fiction novel, A More Perfect Union.

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the second annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards!

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Going Rogue

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Going Rogue

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character go rogue.

How to Love Writing a Book

How to Love Writing a Book

When you’re in the weeds of the writing process, it’s easy to lose sight of why you started in the first place. Here, author Radhika Sanghani shares her tips on how to love the process of writing your book.

How Daily Meditation Can Lead to New Stories

How Daily Meditation Can Lead to New Stories

In seeking meaning did author Randal Maurice Jelks also find purpose and understanding. Here, he shares how daily meditation can lead to new stories.

5 Tips for Writing a Domestic Thriller

5 Tips for Writing a Domestic Thriller

Author Leah Konen offers 5 tips to help keep the goosebumps coming in your domestic thriller—from focusing on a small cast of characters to allowing yourself to be surprised in the process, and more!