Monday, July 2, 2012


When do you shelve a manuscript?

I hear of many writers who last year were querying one book but this year they're querying a whole new book. They shelved the previous book after a few requests led to rejections.

I've been querying Daze for... oh, um, well... awhile. But I will admit here and now that I made a common writerly mistake and queried TOO SOON. Lately, I've had some requests. Some have led to R's, others I'm still waiting on. My plan is to give Daze another edit once I hear from these others and then send out another round of queries.

But should I? Or is it time to shelve it?

I know first books are rarely the ones that get published. But in my own defense, I've spent over two years making this book the best I can make it. I feel like this book is the "one." But maybe I'm just too attached? Maybe I need to just let go and I can't.

I feel like after one more round of queries, I probably will shelve it and focus on Sway. That's my plan for now, anyway. But I am wondering, when do you shelve? And what makes you shelve?  


  1. Interesting question. I've two novels that are gathering computer dust at the moment. I've queried 0. I suppose that they didn't stand up to my personal standards, so I put them aside.

    I hope to revisit them in the future, but I do know my writing has improved.

  2. I started querying too soon. I'm doing another round of edits on Fire and Ice and then I'll query again, if nothing comes of it then it's time to shelve. Right now I'm working on another story that I'm excited to finish and then send off later this year. I think it's good keep working and not put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. But I also don't think you should give up so easily. Good luck with editing and re-querying.

  3. I shelved the MS I was querying because I was getting rejections on my fulls/partials, I didn't know what to do with it and I was so sick of reading it that I could even face doing anything to it! But also some time out of querying and editing let me see what was really wrong with it. I also queried too early, but that's a mistake you can only see after the fact!

    I think shelving an MS to focus on a different project is a good idea because you are still working on writing. And shelving something doesn't have to be permanent - you might think of ways to make it even better during the time away :)

  4. I also queried too soon. Luckily though (BY freakin' MIRACLE!) I ended up with a Revise and Resubmit, so that is what I'm working on now.

    I shelved my first novel after I edited 60 pages of it. Yea, 60 out of almost 280 pages. I was too fed up with how much editing I'd have to do. I was too lazy. I didn't WANT to edit. So I Shelved it. But I think for everyone....shelving an MS is different each time.

  5. Shelving a novel doesn't mean the end of that novel. John Grisham shelved his first novel, but it was later published when he'd made his name as a writer. Perhaps shelving shouldn't be seen as saying "Too bad, novel--you had your chance," and more like saying, "Not yet, novel--maybe later." Just a thought. :)

  6. I kinda did the same thing as you. Querying too early. As of now I feel that I'm done with making changes to it. If it doesn't go soon, I'm on to the next. But that next is not ready, so I'll keep querying until that next is ready.

    If I were you, I'd try one more time if you get good tips on revising. Why not. Especially is Sway isn't ready.

  7. I say shelve it now, work on something else and go back to it in few months. That might feel like a life time but if you keep querying it and then changing it you risk getting bored or losing your voice. This way you'll know if it's done for sure.