1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Should I wait until my WIP is finished before sending a query?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Justin Rocket 2, May 2, 2015.

    I stumbled upon an agent who seems ideal for me. First, he's new, which should help because I'm a new writer. Second, he's particularly motivated in books to promote reading in boys and teenage guys. I want to write books which promote reading in boys and teenage guys. He's interested in my genre.

    He requests that authors' queries be composed of a query letter and the first 3000 words of the novel WIP. There's nothing in his listing which states that the novel WIP must be completed before querying him. Is completion of the manuscript an unspoken rule in the industry?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. Your MS should be complete before you query. Not much wiggle room on that, I'm afraid.
     
  3. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    Since I've never been published, I can't speak from experience like BayView. However, I would think having a completed manuscript would be necessary before querying an agent. The book should be ready for editing before the query is sent.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    From what I've read on the web, you must have a completed manuscript before you submit anything to an agent/publisher. If you've got nothing, they won't do business with you. Finish that story up and send it to that man.
     
  5. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    It should be finished, read by anyone you know who is likely to be a reasonable critic (not your mother unless she has writing credentials), re-edited by you, beta read, and if you can afford it, professionally edited.

    You want that manuscript to be as polished as you can make it, in order to not get your sample submission tossed out after the second spelling mistake or boring or mis-worded sentence. Or turned down when someone finally gets around to reading the whole work.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    In short, don't give them any reason to turn down your manuscript. A incomplete manuscript is one of them.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not only should it be completed, it should be proofed and polished to a mirror finish. It's a business where the first impression is pretty much your only opportunity. Publishers and agents don't want someone the have to handhold and stroke. They want someone who can act like a professional, someone who puts their all into the project and takes constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve.

    An initial manuscript that is complete and shows hard work and attention to detail will be welcomed by any submissions editor or agent. It still may not be the manuscript they want or can promote at this time, but they won't groan or sigh the next time your name shows up.
     
  8. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I understand that. But, in my previous professional life, we used some version of spiral development or RAD. Both of these models gets the client or their representative involved a lot sooner. That's why I asked, not because I don't know how to be professional.
     
  9. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Different business unfortunately. The majority of writers with only unfinished manuscripts won't ever produce a publishable manuscript, and there are sufficient numbers of completed manuscripts being submitted that theirs not a lot of point taking a punt on someone who might never get there.
     
  10. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Think of writing your manuscript as a business proposal when you have huge competition. If you win the job, then the spiral begins and they have you do several rewrites to shape it into what they believe they can market.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What seems "ideal" to you about this agent seems terribly generic - I'm almost certain there're hundreds of agents out there who also want to promote reading in boys. Also, being interested in promoting reading in boys isn't a "genre"...

    I see no relevance whatsoever between his being a new agent and you being a new writer. How does that make him doubly ideal to you? It might mean he's more hungry for new manuscripts, so might be more likely to take on new writers, but new agents also mean they have fewer industry contacts and are less experienced in what kind of book sells as well as who might want it.

    Most people writing their first novels never finish. Even those who come to finish other novels still say their very first one is still a work in progress after various lengths of time, sometimes even decades. If you submit and let's say you hit the jackpot and the agent says, "Hey, brilliant stuff. Can I see the full manuscript?"

    What are you gonna do then? Say, "Erm, sorry man, but can you wait a little while cus it's kinda not done."

    A professional writer who's contracted and used to churning out bestsellers still on average release only 1 book per year. You're a newbie - how long do you realistically think you're gonna take to finish?

    So you're gonna have to say, "Sorry I don't actually have a book." And the agent will remember the disappointment more than anything else, and you will have ruined your reputation as well as screamed, "I'm an amateur!" In an industry when you wanna hide the fact that you may be unpublished, let alone actually announce it. You'll essentially have wasted the agent's time - people get pretty peeved when that happens.

    So yeah... be patient, and finish your book. Look, if it's a good story, someone will publish it :) Don't rush. Give it time. Pick the fruit only when it's ripe, and not before. Your book's worth that much.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Textbooks follow a process more like that. In that kind of project, the proposal is submitted early, and the content and structure are negotiated in advance.

    But fiction is different. There is no set of specifications other than the submissions guidelines. Specs don't mean much, because the value, or lack thereof, is comprised of immeasurable qualities.

    It's a highly competitive market, and prototypes just don't sell the product. There's no guarantee in a prototype, or a partial draft, that the creator can bridge that gap between draft and finished product.
     
  13. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    The tone of your post seems confrontational/argumentative.

    I didn't say or imply that generating reading in boys is a genre. It is a mission statement.

    As a beginner writer, I want someone who is hungry for new writers. I have a lot to learn in the industry and a new agent, being hungry, will likely be more willing to help me along. Plus, he's part of a bigger agency, so he's got people he might be able to rely on to help out if, god willing, potential for a movie deal emerges.

    I was planning on identifying the manuscript as a WIP in my query letter. Of course, thanks to the helpful guidance of other writers here, I am going to delay until the WIP is finished.

    Straight out, any agent whom I need to hide who I am from is not an agent I want.
     
  14. United
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    United Member

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    Yes, your MS should be as complete and polished as it can possibly be (edited----if you can afford an editor).
    This includes alpha and beta readers, workshops, writing groups. Etc etc.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've read that sometimes, for some kinds of NON fiction, you may be able to present a book proposal rather than a completed work. I don't know if that's true.

    But for fiction, done and polished and polished again, yep.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, it's industry advice that if you are unpublished, to simply leave that fact unsaid. That's what I mean by 'hide' - it is ill-advised to state "this is my first novel". In general you aren't meant to say anything irrelevant to your writing credentials in your query and these should be professional credentials, such as anything published, writing awards won etc, and only when they are reputable.

    Most agents also want an estimated word count, which also means the MS needs to be completed anyway. It's another standard thing that a lot of writers, though not required, include the word 'completed' in their queries so as to avoid confusion that might cause the agent to toss it to the bin. (Eg. my historical romance Blah Blah Title is completed at 90,000 words)

    Apologies if I sounded confrontational. No hostiliy was meant :)
     
  17. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    @Mckk - I actually wasn't aware of that, thanks for the info. I envisioned myself telling an agent that my manuscript was my first novel, etc. That would've ended in disaster. :p So the best course of action is to be professional and act like you know what you're doing even when you really don't?
     

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