1. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    When to query an agent?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by funkybassmannick, Mar 17, 2012.

    I've been working on my first book for a long time now, and I have developed my craft to the point that I'm fairly confident that my next draft will be ready for an agent to consider. I already have the first few chapters solidified in this new draft, and things are looking good.

    That said, when should I start to consider querying agents? Should I wait until this draft is completed, or should I get the process going now because they will likely take their time responding to me?

    I guess I want to query now, but I'm afraid they'll quickly ask for my whole manuscript which is still a work in progress. Would it look bad if I said, "I'm still working on it!"
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There wouldn't be anything postive that could come from having to reply, "I'm still working on it!"

    In the big scheme of things, waiting a month or so to begin the process of submitting to agents is nothing. Do it right the first time as you'll only get one shot for this project with each agent.
     
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  3. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    So it's generally expected that the project is whole and complete? I feel this is often contradicted in media portrayals of the agent/writer relationship. I just saw the movie "Limitless" about a writer who has never written a page of work, but still had an agent. This must be an extreme, because he must have queried an agent on a concept alone and got picked up.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Was the book autobiographical or non fiction ? Those are often sold by proposal. It can happen where the agent and writer have met face to face, but is rare.

    Agents usually ask for completed works or don't bother querying.
     
  5. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    In the movie, it was a science fiction book. Sounds like portrayals of the agent/writer relationship like that are not congruent with reality.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It isn't out of the realms of possibility some publishers (particularly Romance) can put out calls for specific works and a writer can pitch their idea.

    There are conventions, book fairs etc where writers and agents come face to face. It is the exception rather than the rule.
     
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  7. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    That's pretty much what I expected, but I guess I'm just getting excited. Patience, young grasshopper. :)
     
  8. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    With fiction, you need to have a complete manuscript. As for non fiction, I believe you query just your idea. Indeed, be patient, young grasshopper :)! It's a long road. Make sure you take your time and have heaps of fun.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    1. literary agents make their money ONLY by selling mss they represent to publishers and taking 15% off the top of whatever money the authors get...

    2. publishers only buy complete mss... they can't publish just the first few chapters and then publish the rest when the writer gets around to finishing the book...

    3. if agents do not have complete, polished mss to submit to publishers, then they can't make any money, so why would they represent just a 'writer' who has nothing to sell, yet?

    with non-fiction, if the idea is so hot, it's bound to sell well, a writer may be taken on and the project pitched as just a 'book proposal' and the book can be completed after a contract is signed with the publisher...

    or, with either fiction or non-fiction, if the writer is so well-known that anything they write will sell well, they may be taken on before the book is written and their proposal shopped to publishers the same way as above...

    now, it's not always the same with agents who represent screenwriters, because even if the scripts submitted aren't marketable, if the agents feel the writing is so well done and the writers so talented they could come up with a winner with their next one, or the one after that, then they'll sign the writers up before anyone else can get to them...

    but in your case, funky, and that of other new authors, points 1-3 apply... what was done in whatever silly movie you saw does not reflect reality... what one was it, anyway?
     
  10. Mikael
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    Mikael New Member

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    I remember I read in a norwegian news paper a few years ago about a paint artist who wrote a book at night (when he couldn't listen to loud music, which he needed for his muse). After he had written 14 pages he sent his material in to a publisher or an agent (don't remember) and got a contract or maybe they just kept in touch. But still - that was after only 14 pages of a novel in progress.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that may work in norway, and may have worked for him, but it's foolish to count on possibly being an extremely rare exception to the rule...

    and the rule is to first have a completed, polished to a faretheewell book ms to offer, before querying agents or publishers... a 'novel-in-progress' can't be published... and while non-fiction book writers can sometimes snag a contract on the strength of a good book proposal and sample chapters, it simply doesn't work for novels, unless the author has several bestsellers under his/her belt...
     
  12. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Better temper that enthusiasm. The road that you are about to travel is strewn with endless rejection letters (some of them photocopied...badly). Mammamaia's advice is, as always, impeccable and 100% correct. Go slowly. Check Editors and Predators before proceeding. Make sure you are 100% ready to go, then make a listing of the agents you want to query and check them out as thoroughly as possible.

    Regards, funkydrummermanEd
     
  13. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I thought this needed to be bolded. Make sure you send it to reputable agents or publishers. You might start looking for who to send it too, but until you're finished you have nothing to offer but a dream.
     

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