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  1. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    VERY Surprised to find out about Literary Agents! but a question!

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Hannibal Alexander, Aug 24, 2012.

    i'm looking at different literary agents and what they want from submissions...
    and i'm almost shocked to find out that you don't really have to have a completed project, that they'll take a proposal and the first 10 pages (sometimes less).

    i have a question though.

    what is the process from there?
    in an ideal world... i submit the first 10 pages to an agent, in a few weeks they contact me back saying they are interested...
    than what? do THEY (the agent) want me to finish the book before they can talk it up to publishers (because a potential advance comes from the publisher? am i correct) or do i get an advance from the Agent themselves while they are trying to talk to book up and while i'm finishing it up?

    no matter what, i'm going to move forward with submitting my stuff to different places... but i'm just curious if anybody knows the inner workings of all that!?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In general, with non-fiction one can have several sample chapters for a proposal. With fiction, although in the submission package they request things like a query letter, and maybe a synopsis and first three chapters, they expect the novel to be finished.

    Authors that have a track record of successful novels, can often get a contract (usually through an agent) with only a sample chapter or two and a synopsis, if the editor at the publisher likes the proposal--what's to be written.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nonfiction is definitely handled differently than fiction. If you have a novel, it had better be finished when you start submitting - nothing could be worse than getting a request for a full and having to tell them, "Well, it's not quite finished yet...". Cross that agent off your list.
     
  4. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    With the exception of smaller presses, literary agents are basically the front-line for manuscript submission. In the old days, it was more common to send manuscripts directly to a publisher, but the literary agent has now effectively taken the place of the front-line manuscript reader.

    What this means for you is this: Literary agents are now as overwhelmed by piles of unsolicited manuscripts (they call these "slush piles") as publishers are, and so you should think of them the same way you would think of a publisher--at least at the submission stage. They're tough, they're picky, and they reject almost everything they receive with a few stellar exceptions.

    Different agents have different submission criteria, but nearly all of them expect a "query letter" as the first step. The query letter is where you sell the idea for the book you have already written (for fiction) or proposal with sample chapters and your qualifications (for non-fiction).

    Query letters themselves must be carefully crafted or will result in an automatic form rejection, so if you have written a work of fiction, you probably want to spend some time at the Query Shark blog to learn how it's done.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The submission criteria is only what you submit in order to get their attention - think of it as an application. It doesn't mean they actually don't expect a finished product. In fact, from an interview I watched online, an agent once said the absolute most annoying thing about pitches is that the novel is unfinished - it is a complete waste of their time and unprofessional on your part. Especially as a first time writer, it's hard enough to get accepted even with a finished MS - think you're gonna stand a chance with an unfinished one? Naaaah. Really.

    Also, as a first time writer, you're highly likely to take a long time to get through the process of getting a first draft and 95% of what you wrote will be changed. I believe I've deleted over 100,000 words before I got my first draft of 65,000 words and still editing, rewriting and yes, deleting. It's naive to think you should submit before you're done. Soo much can go wrong.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just chiming in to agree that for fiction, everything I've heard and read indicates that the novel should not only be finished, but polished to be as fine as you can possibly, _possibly_ make it, before you start submitting to agents.
     
  7. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    It's a good idea to have a project finished, when contacting an agent or publisher. I had an experience contacting a publisher early in writing my first novel. I had 8 chapters written and I decided to test the waters. A publisher was interested in my first three chapters and wanted to see the full ms, well I didn't have it written. I'll never do that again, and I did that years ago. It was dumb. But I learned from it.
     
  8. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I once did that as well.

    Sometimes you are bursting and need to see if anyone is even remotely interested in your work.
     
  9. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    Hi JamesOliv...yes I know what you mean. Writing a novel is a lot of work, and a part of you wants to know early on, even if it's a bit naive, if your hours and hours of writing and rewriting...are worth your effort.
     
  10. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    so thanks for all the feedback ...
    i mean it kind of bums me out because i was so excited.
    but thank you all for bringing me back to reality... i'm loving this site for real .
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    They are, apparently, publishers who accept unsolicited ms (ie, don't require an author have an agent). I understand there aren't many of those around.
     
  12. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    I never give my work to someone I just met, or claims that its legit, or calls me on the phone claiming to be someone specific. Case in point is a marketer who called me to let me know that every time I go on the internet on my computer, errors are being shown to them, and they work for Windows. I went to my computer and was going to ask them what my license number was, if they worked for Microsoft, they would have that info. They hung up.

    I am learning a lot about caution in my older years. Also, on topic, its like selling a house that you are renovating. If the house in incomplete, trying to get someone else to buy it would be difficult and you can cross a lot of real estate agents and their customers off your list of potentials. Have a complete project ready. Its the only way to go, even in spite of the enthusiasm. And I know how hard it is to curb that when your idea is burning in your mind, your wheels are turning, and the words are just flowing onto the page.

    Oh oh. I think I am growing up. I just realized that I am learning from other peoples mistakes. I don't want to grow up! Wahhh!
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm closing this thread. The discussion ended weeks ago, except where reawakened by spammers.
     
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