I’d like to share why I requested a full manuscript from someone whose query and first 20 pages I read. It kind of went like this…
There were three short paragraphs telling me what the story was about. Actually it was only 9 sentences, which is great (although, to be honest, some of them were run-ons). The third paragraph was kind of snarky, which clued me in that I would probably hear some of that voice in the manuscript. And I like that.
The next paragraph gave me important info: TITLE OF THE MANUSCRIPT, word count, genre, and two comparisons. What I appreciated about the comparisons were that the author said her novel would appeal to readers who like the quirky sense of humor of a particular author and the strong girl characters of another author. She didn’t suggest that her manuscript was like theirs, that she was the next best selling author of these kind of books, or that her manuscript was even better than the ones she just mentioned.
But she showed me that she’s thought about who might read her book. So I know she knows the market. Also, the two qualities she was talking about were things that I care about. So it seems to me that this author has done her homework to see what kind of stories I’m interested in. She didn’t spit back my words to me, like cutting and pasting from my agency’s website into her query.
Then she told me that she included the materials (i.e. the 20 pages) that I request in my submission guidelines; she thanked me for my time; and signed the email. So I’m already happy now, because she’s done almost everything correctly. She didn’t write anything about herself, and I do like to know something about the authors with whom I may potentially work. But it’s not a deal breaker for me that she left this out. So, I went ahead and read the first 20 pages, because not only had she written a good query, but it sounded interesting to me. It’s YA fantasy, with a twist on a usual fantasy plot. And it’s got feminist undertones (or at least non-sexist ones), and I really like that, too.
The 20 pages zipped by. I saw a couple of problems, but nothing that’s not fixable. And when I got to the end of the first 20 I was left with the best question: What happens next?! So I requested the full. And I asked the author to include a short bio when she sends the full.
And that’s what it looked like when I requested a full manuscript this week!