Chris's bookshelf

WARBeat the Reaper: A NovelThe Hellhound of Wall Street: How Ferdinand Pecora's Investigation of the Great Crash Forever Changed American FinanceThe Evolution of Bruno LittlemoreThe Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, Red HarvestGlengarry Glen Ross

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Getting Started

Thanks to Patrick Egan for posting the first comment on this blog!

Patrick: “I am about halfway finished with the first draft of a fiction novel, and have neither an agent, nor publisher, (I know ~ lucky me, huh?). One question I have is, at what point should I begin the hunt? Do I wait until I have a final draft that I am comfortable to present, or should I start earlier, pitching the idea before the novel is fully written?”

A great question, and certainly a common concern for aspiring writers.  Non-fiction projects are often submitted when they’re incomplete—a proposal generally consisting of a chapter outline and several sample chapters, with plenty of variations on this theme.  Since you’re working on a novel, however, you should wait until it’s complete before querying agents.  I’ll go a step further and say that you should revise your entire manuscript at least once, probably at least twice, before you try to find an agent.  You put a lot of work into that stack of papers, so be sure to get it into the best shape possible before you show it to the person you want to help you get it published.  In the meantime, your best course of action (aside from pressing forward with the novel) is to look to peers for feedback on your concept.  There are so many other writers out there who blog about their experiences and are more than willing to share their thoughts.  I recently discovered BlogCatalog, and you might want to check it out.

Blogs like this one and those listed at Publishers Marketplace are good options if you want to try to get the opinion of someone in publishing—just go in with the expectation that you may not get a response, as some of these blogs get hundreds of comments a day.

Patrick: “Another question is, and I’m sure you’ll be bombarded with this one in no time, are you taking on any new clients? If not, can you give any advice on how to find one? Are there any tips on how a ‘new’ writer can make himself more attractive to an agent?”

A fantastic source of information for writers of all levels of experience is Poets & Writers Magazine.  We have a subscription, and I especially love their Agents & Editors series.  The current issue introduces readers to Jonathan Karp, the publisher and editor in chief of Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group.

If you’re looking to stay abreast of the publishing industry, Publishers Weekly is another great resource.

Additionally, I encourage you to visit some of the other agent blogs listed at Publishers Marketplace.  If you don’t have a membership yet, I highly recommend getting one.  You can also subscribe to this blog, as I’ll be adding my own tips over time.

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5 comments to Getting Started

  • Kelley

    Chris:

    I found out about your blog last week when I was looking at the Victoria Sanders & Associates site. I am getting ready to send out Query for my first novel and was looking through books and on the internet when I saw your blog. It is a great service you are offering.

    What would you say would be the most important part of a Query Letter? I have to say, I hate writing them. I seem to always put off the query letter because it scares me. As confident as I am about the stories I write, I admit to being scared of the Query.
    I’ve done them for short stories before and apparantly done something right, but they still loom over me.
    Thanks, Kelley

  • Kelley

    Thanks. I hope to have packets pretty well ready to go out (mail and email) soon. I’m going to switch focus back to a new novel as I am participating in National Novel Writing Month in November.

    Kelley

  • Thank you for your insight, I appreciate the time it takes for you to pass on valuable information to those of us who aspire to be published. I sent a query and sample chapters to you today. I hope you enjoy my work.
    Thanks, Michael

  • Patrick Egan

    Chris,

    Thanks for your response! I’m hoping to have the book finished sometime in the beginning of 2010, and when it is, I will be reaching out to you or one of the other agents at Victoria Sanders and Associates.
    Have a great holiday season! I look forward talking with you in the near future.

    Patrick

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