How Do You Know When Your Manuscript Is Ready to Query?

You just wrote the last sentence of your novel—congrats! That’s an incredible accomplishment that took hours of your unpaid time and effort. You poured so much of your creative energy into that manuscript, so you’re ready to query it. It should see the light of day and reach the hearts of readers.

But should that happen now or after more detailed work?

These are a few ways to know when your manuscript is ready to query.

1. You’ve Finished Your Manuscript

It’s no longer your WIP! Call it what it is—it’s your beautiful, hard-earned manuscript. It should have a completed arc with tied-up character development points to conclude your theme and plot twists.

2. Ask Someone to Read It

You can re-read your manuscript for weeks and still have errors that your eyes naturally skip over. It helps to ask a fresh pair of eyes to read through your work. They’ll read every sentence closely because it’s all new information. They also won’t know what’s coming in each chapter, so they’ll point out if plot twists surprised them or if the character development felt natural.

Your beta reader should feel free to point out what works and what doesn’t work about your manuscript. Those aren’t the same thing as what they like and don’t like. When something works, the reader will understand what you’re saying and feel what your characters are feeling. If it doesn’t, the reader will be confused. They might become emotionally disconnected too.

Encourage your beta reader to give specific feedback. They may point out things that need more refined wording or a rewrite in a second draft of a chapter.

3. Find a Critiquer

There are various ways to find a professional fiction critiquer and pay them to comb through your newly edited manuscript. Although their advice will be top-tier, you don’t need to pay someone to check for line edits.

Ask your friends and family members to see who feels confident with grammar and punctuation. Anyone who rarely got edit notes on their school essays can provide some helpful line critiques to polish your manuscript.

4. Pinpoint Your Audience

Agents need to know who’s going to read your book. It’s an essential part of your query letter, so don’t send anything unless you know your target audience. There are a few ways to indicate who’s going to love your book within your query letter, like:

  • Naming the genre (Children’s, Young Adult, New Adult, etc.)
  • Naming comparative titles (“Readers who loved Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games will love the action-packed arena fights in my manuscript.”)
  • Talking about why you wrote your book (“I wrote about this coming-of-age perspective to reach middle schoolers who are learning how to accept their changing identities.”)

If you’re unsure who your audience will be, ask your beta readers for their input. They might point out certain themes, scenes, or points that are better suited for specific ages.

5. Research Your Agents

After drafting your query letter—which I wrote about in this post—you can’t send your manuscript to every agent you find on QueryTracker or various publishers’ websites. You need to find agents representing your genre. 

To do that, you have to know your manuscript’s genre. Give it some thought while considering factors that will point you toward one genre or another, like:

  • The time period your book takes place (historical fiction, futuristic sci-fi)
  • Your protagonist’s age (child, young adult, adult)
  • The presence of magic (fantasy)
  • The presence of science or technology (sci-fi)
  • Dark or scary themes (horror)
  • A mystery that drives your plot (mystery)


It’s okay to take your time editing and revising your manuscript after it crosses that initial finish line. Sometimes it takes writers months or years to get their work to a point where they feel confident and comfortable enough with it to query.

Give yourself time to work through these points and your editing process. The publishing world will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

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