Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Querying With an Unfinished Manuscript
AS A FIRST TIME AUTHOR, should you finish your manuscript before you query an editor? I have been asked this question by all kinds of hopeful writers, and the answer is, sorry Kids, but yes. I know, I know. I’m not exactly the most experienced “published” novelist on the block. After all, my book isn’t out on the shelf yet (patience in publishing is a future post), but I am walking the road with both my editor and agent holding each hand. So far I have heard from both of them that it made a huge difference knowing I could deliver the manuscript before querying.
My manuscript landed in the hands of my agent at the right time, but if I hadn’t written all but a few chapters of the book, he wouldn’t have given me the time of day. When I heard he had the manuscript and wanted the rest, you wouldn’t believe how quickly I finished that book. By the time I spoke to him about actually representing him, I’d written the ending.
The way I found my agent was no less than extraordinary, but I believe that in any other situation, I wouldn’t have been considered if I hadn’t been able to say, “The manuscript is finished.” My agent tells me that for a first-time novelist, having a completed manuscript is paramount.
Personally, I think that a whole lot of the time that first-time authors put into marketing and pitching before they have even completed their book could so easily be put into finishing their WIP (Work In Progress) instead. Focus on finishing your story, so you can show an agent or publisher you are capable of finishing a book.
So, that is my two cents. There are writers out there who have had a different experience. And that’s great, but for the vast majority of us, agents and editors just don’t have time to take a chance on a new writer they can’t be sure will produce the product. And let’s face it. It’s our masterpiece. If we are fortunate, our agents and editors are passionate about the work, but this is business for them too. They need to know the product will be available before they buy it from a first time novelist. So let's write! Show them you can do it!
Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary women’s fiction and has recently contracted with Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House, to publish two novels. The title of her first book will be Ruby Among Us. Visit her at www.tinaannforkner.blogspot.com