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Should you only query one manuscript at once? How long to wait before next one?

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Sorry for the short, confusing topic title - seems pretty limited in terms of how many characters you're allowed to have.

But, my questions are the following:

1. How many manuscript ideas do you think you should query to an agent at once? I know you should only *focus* one one, and you should only paste one manuscript in your query letter. But should you mention your other, completed, polished manuscripts? Should you give a line or two on each, just in case that's something that catches the agent's fancy even if your main one wasn't in their wheelhouse?

2. Let's say, in theory, you've got more than three completed, polished manuscripts. And let's say you query an agent and they aren't interested in the one or two manuscripts you mention in your first query letter (whether they straight up reject or just never respond). Is there etiquette on how long you should wait to try one of your other completed manuscripts in a separate query?

Thanks for any thoughts or insight you all might have!

#1 - July 17, 2022, 11:52 AM

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I'm going to take your questions one at a time:
1. This depends on the agent. For picture books, you always mention you have at least two more or a novel available, but you don't necessarily pitch the other work. Some agents ask you to, but don't do so otherwise. For novels, one work only, with a statement of series potential if you intend a series. For chapter books, you pitch a series with a full pitch for book one and a line or two for the next couple. This can vary.

2. General etiquette is six months.
#2 - July 17, 2022, 06:46 PM
« Last Edit: July 22, 2022, 09:16 PM by Debbie Vilardi »
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Very straightforward and informative answers - thank you so much!
#3 - July 22, 2022, 04:42 PM

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Just to chime in, if you have more than one polished PB, you can query them all, just separately. For example, some agents wishlists match manuscript A so you query them with A. But other agent wishlists match manuscript B so you query B to them, etc. If one agent rejects A, but B or C might be a good fit for them, too, then after a few months, you can certainly query that agent with B or C.

I highly recommend keeping a spreadsheet so you can track all of this info. I started querying in 2009 and by the time I signed with my first agent in 2017, I had about 10 manuscripts I was querying on and off and would have never survived that without my spreadsheet, LOL.

And I agree with Debbie's advice, too.
#4 - July 25, 2022, 07:36 AM
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Thank you!
#5 - July 25, 2022, 07:50 AM

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This is very helpful.  I thought it was a faux pas to mention other manuscripts in a query, especially if one is a sequel.  I have a PB manuscript I'd like to start querying soon.  My problem is I like the sequel better than the first book.  It's not a series and each book is a complete story, only the main character is the same.  The only reason one has to come before the other is because, in the first book, the main character is introduced at the end as a small twist.  If you read the second story first, you already know the main character's name.  How much of this should be mentioned in a query?  Also, how many unrelated PBs should be mentioned?
#6 - August 02, 2022, 01:12 PM

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It is actually a faux pas to mention books in a series. If the first book doesn't sell well, no one will want the next one. With picture books, you always say you have more available, but you wouldn't pitch them unless the guidelines say to. (So no specifics.) Most folks expect you to have at least three.
#7 - August 02, 2022, 06:16 PM
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Thank you Debbie.  Again, very helpful.
#8 - August 03, 2022, 06:55 AM

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