Now for that checklist:
- Have you thoroughly revised? Meaning not just read it over again, but gone through your own revision checklist and done passes for character, plot, pacing, extraneous scenes, adverbs and other extra words, sentence structure, etc.? Sound like a lot? Yep it is. That's what makes the difference though.
- Have you had other eyes than yours on it? And not just the opening pages. I mean the whole darned thing. Yes that opening is vital, but I've seen books that start off AMAZING only to fall flat. If you're too nervous to have a beta reader look at it, how do you expect an editor to want to sell it to the general public? Be open to criticism. Ask yourself what was catching the reader and revise.
- Have you put it away for a while and re-read? The impatient person's nightmare, but guess what? It's soooooo important. Take it from someone who learned that the hard way! Work on something new while you wait.
- Do you find yourself changing tiny words here and there? That's usually a sign to me that I've about had it. Especially if the tiny tweaks really convey nothing different. :D
- Do you have a query letter ready? That can be tougher than writing the novel!
- Are you terrified?
If you answered YES to most of these questions (or all) you are probably ready to send out a first batch of queries. My advice is to thoroughly research agents/editors who represent your type of manuscript and target those. I would send between five and ten queries at once and wait for feedback. No bites? take another look at the letter and or sample pages and see if you've been lucky enough to get any feedback. Then tweak and try again. It's tough out there, even when you do it right. So hang in there and remember to commiserate with your fellow writers while you wait (only nice words please - no negative talk about particular people EVER). Perseverance is key. Don't give up if you truly love it! Keep trying.