1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Publisher interested in novel before it's finished

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by deadrats, Jul 2, 2019.

    So, this is super good news, but I'm not exactly sure how to approach it. I have a good publisher who wants me to send him what I have of my novel in progress. He's interested in publishing it. Yay! But it's not finished and it's probably pretty rough. I told him that, but he wants to see what I've got so far. This is a reputable publisher that's been around for years. It's not one of the major ones, but this place is for sure the real deal. He's expecting me to email him soon. Can this backfire on me?

    I should mention that this relationship is a result of my connections (though few) in the literary world. I have no fears other than my novel might not be as good as he expects since it's not done and is very much a first draft. My first drafts aren't so rough as others since I do a lot of editing as I go and write my best from the start. I gave him the rundown of the story and told him I wasn't even sure how the story would end at this point. He said he still wants to see it and work with me.

    He has read several things I have written. Sort of a fan and seems like he's willing to mentor and guide me a little. This is a publisher that will give me an advance and has a long history of publishing many books.

    I don't want to blow it. I'm worried my novel is not going to be as good as he thinks. He still wants to see it. So, do I just email him what I've got? I'm not really sure how much time I can have before sending him something. I want to strike while the iron is hot. I'm excited and nervous. And this comes a bit unexpected. It's really nice to have someone believe in my writing and want to be the first to publish a book by me. But I don't want him to think it sucks. I want this to work out. And I do feel comfortable working with this publisher without an agent.

    What do I do to make sure I don't suck? Should I send him everything I have so far like he asked? I'm still in shock and on top of the world that this is even happening. I would love to hear from some of you about what you would do in this position or if any of you have been through something similar. Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer insight as to how I make sure this works out.
     
  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Good for you!

    I would go ahead and send him what you've got. But AFAIK, there wouldn't be an obligation on the part of either one of you until a contract is signed or money changes hands. The publisher may decide that it's not up their alley and decline to pursue it further, but if the company is as established and reputable as it seems to be, it would have no objections to you sending it elsewhere and may actually refer you to another company that might take up the option.

    At this point, you might solicit the services of an agent who can help guide you through the process. The fact that you've already got some expression of interest should help you in hiring one.
     
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  3. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    I don't mean to throw a bucket of water on you but, don't you think it's a little odd they didn't ask to just see the first chapter?
     
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  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I don't want to get into the specifics of anything on the forum, but they are now asking to see everything I have so far even though I've made it clear it's in rough draft form and not finished. There are no red flags to worry about with this publisher. There is interest, but no official offer or anything. Like I said this is through contacts I've made in the literary world that I am even in this position. It's a good position to be in, I think. I just wish my novel was finished or in better shape, but this publisher didn't seemed too concerned. And like I also said, the guy who runs this place is familiar with my writing outside the novel. What I have to worry about is blowing this opportunity.
     
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  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't see any harm in sending them what you've got, but I'd be wary about committing, even in your own mind, to go with this publisher rather than another before you've even shopped the book around (or even COMPLETED the book). I mean, if this is your dream publisher and you can't possibly imagine any other publisher ever being better, then ignore my warnings. But if this publisher is so enthusiastic about your work, it seems entirely possible that some other publisher (or publishers) will be just as enthusiastic, and some of those other publishers may end up being a better fit or giving you more opportunities.

    Don't limit your dreams prematurely!
     
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  6. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Writers don't always start with the first chapter or write in chronological order. If they know this manuscript is unfinished they would understand it could be any section of the story. Hence, show us what you've got so far.
     
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  7. AndieBoDandy

    AndieBoDandy Member

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    I'm excited for you! I really don't see how you can "blow" the opportunity. How much of the novel have you completed? You said that you prefer to edit as you go... would you feel more comfortable sending some of the more polished chapters instead of the full piece?
     
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  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    Yeah, what are you waiting for? Some other dude to email him what he's got? Editor probably has a tsunami of manuscripts. Buyer's market, bruh.
     
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  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    What does AFAIK mean? I know this doesn't mean anything really at this point. It was unexpected, and I'm quite surprised that they want to see what I've got so early. I wished I had been working on it more. I think I'll send it in after the weekend.

    The thing is if they start helping me or sort of guide me with this novel, I would feel really bed if I just then went with another publisher unless is was at their recommendation. I know I shouldn't me getting ahead of myself and even thinking that far ahead because they might read it and think it's not as good as they are hoping. But it does seem like they think someone is likely to have interest in my debut novel and are ready to snatch me up. (If it's good enough and holds their interest)

    I started a different thread about working with a publisher without an agent before this all happened, but I did have something set up to talk to this publisher at that time. I did not know they would want to see it before it was finished. I feel like I would still have a hard time getting an agent at this point given the novel isn't finished and there is no deal on the table. But I also think I might want to skip the whole agent step with this one if I can. It's only my first book. I figureI can get an agent down the road with other books if I want to aim higher and try to get in with one of the really big publishers. I would feel stupid trying to get an agent now because there are no promises that any of this will work out.

    It does feel good to get this sort of attention from a publisher and this is one that's been on my radar and I would like to work with. I guess it's just fingers crossed for now. I know I've still got a long way to go with both the novel and the publishing process.
     
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  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks. What you say makes a lot of sense. I wasn't expecting anything like this when my novel seems so much in the early stages still. I'm not sure if anything or what might come of it when they read what I have so far. This isn't one of the big 5 (is it 5 now), but they are a place I would really like to work with and I had wondered if they might have any interest, but I wasn't planning on checking that until the novel was finished. You're right about limiting my dreams prematurely. I know you've worked with publishers for your novels. Were any of them interested in seeing a novel before it was done or you felt it was ready? Did you always shop your stuff around before committing to one? I guess it's just really nice to think someone believes in you and your work. This is a good publisher. I would be thrilled to have them publish my novel. I guess it's still hard for me to believe that they want to see what I've got even at this stage. And the idea that other publishers could also be interested is another one of those things that's hard to believe. I don't know where this will go. I'm both anxious and excited. Maybe that's making it hard for me to even think beyond this right now. It seems like if they're interested it's going to be a much easier process than finding an agent and then finding other publishers. And that might still be what I need to do, but I really would love for this to work out and sort of fast track the process.
     
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  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    That's true. I have been writing chronologically, but it's all pretty rough and I haven't really decided how it will end. I wonder if I should be sending some sort of plan or outline for the rest of the book along with my chapters. That could be a lot harder. I'm thinking I will send about 100 pages. That's about what I've got.
     
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  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I've got about a third of the story down. I think if it really sucks or is too rough that could blow my chance with this publisher. I'm sure I'm not the first writer they have done this with. I kind of feel like I should give them everything I've got and not really hold back. I did warn them it's still rough, but thank God for editing as I go (even though I would still be doing editing after it was finished) or I wouldn't stand a chance at making any sort of good impression. I really hope my novel isn't stupid.
     
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  13. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    You're so right. This publisher has been around for a while and I'm sure I'm not the first or only writer that's been asked to send in work even at the early stages. I do agree that I've got to ask fast. If I waited until my novel was finished, that could very well forget that they had early interest. I only wish that I had been spending more time on my novel and had it in better shape than it's currently in. I guess I'll just have to see how it goes. Thanks.
     
  14. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say go for it, if you trust this publisher—and it sounds as if you do.

    I'd say clean the MS up, if it needs to be cleaned ...ensure that it's more or less SPAG-clean (so it's free of distractions when they read it.) Maybe indicate a few areas where you plan to add something, or areas that you're not happy with yet, or future intentions, things you still need to decide about the story. Let them know where the gaps are, if there are gaps. You've told them it's not done, and that you're not sure what the ending will be. If you can give them a notion of your writing methods ...ie, do you start at the beginning and always work forward, or do you skip around between scenes, etc, that might help them as well.

    The idea that they want to mentor/help you with the writing is something you also should consider. Do you want them to suggest things about a story you haven't finished yet? In other words, do you want them to help you tailor the story to fit their publication profile? If you're happy with them doing that, then go for it! It might actually help you focus and get it done more quickly.

    It really does sound like a fantastic opportunity. As long as you are familiar with this publisher via your contacts, and the offer is genuine. I know your contacts are professional ones, so I'd say this sounds really good. Not too good to be true, just good. They've genuinely seen your writing and they like it. And somebody has told them you're writing a novel. Hey. Golden opportunity knocks.

    I'm really VERY pleased for you!
     
  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks. I think I do want that mentoring and handholding if I can get it. And I don't have a problems with them weighing in to help guide the novel in a certain direction if that's what they wanted to do. They know more about the industry and what sells than I do. But I'm not really sure where things will go from here. This really is uncharted territory for me.
     
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  16. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    so long as they arent asking for money go for it (if they do ask for money or a purchase of a guaranteed number of books or any of that shiz run far far away)
     
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  17. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Textspeak for "As far as I know."
     
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  18. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Hey, good luck to you, @deadrats! You have gotten quite a bit of good advice here, nothing more for me to add.
     
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  19. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    Awesome news, and sounds interesting, don't see why you shouldn't go with it for the time being, no contracts or anything to bind you to this publisher so if he doesn't like what you have or you don't like something he's doing you can both walk away. You could think about the direction of the book and make some sort of precise of the ending as you see it, it might help the publisher, but it doesn't sound as if he wants that at this stage.
    Don't see that you have anything to lose.
     
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  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I've had publishers ask if I've got anything in the works that I might be planning to send to them - that sort of thing. And a few times I've sold books on proposal (first chapter plus an outline of the rest). But I don't think I've had anyone wanting to see a full unfinished MS...

    And I should note that those times publishers contacted me looking for stuff? That was for their benefit, not mine. They were looking to fill holes in their schedules, they thought my stuff might be a good match, so they contacted me. They were conducting business, not doing me a favour, and that's what you want in a publisher. You want someone who's got good business sense, someone who's fair and doesn't take advantage, but not someone who's bending over backwards to help new authors. You want your publisher to be in the business to make money, because that's how they stay in business and how you make money.

    So, assuming this publisher is a strong business, they're probably contacting you for business reasons, not philanthropic. Treat it like a business proposal, not an offer of a favour.
     
  21. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    Unsolicited opinion here, but kudos to @BayView for pointing out that publishers are not philantropists. They might have contacted you because of personal connections, but they still are in the business of making money. So when they are interested in an unfinished MS, it means they think it might be a good match for what they are looking for.

    Use @jannert 's advise to tell them where you think the story might be going, where chapters are unfinished or are not what you'd imagine. Tell them where work is still needed for a first draft. Be honest and upfront. You don't need to belittle yourself, but they need to know that you are aware of specific shortcomings. They want to see that you are a professional and can judge the quality of your work in progress. Tell them how much time you'd need to finish it. I realise that you don't even know the ending yet, but make a guess ;) If they are interested, they'll tell you what they want and discuss the rest. And don't set your heart on a deal. It might all come to nothing. Treat it as compliment that they even asked. If you don't expect something to come of it, then it can only get better with a positive answer.
     
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  22. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    @deadrats Congrats...I hope you get a deal.
    I don’t know if I’d send everything. He thinks it’s incomplete leave the last chapter at home.
    Anticipation vs Trepidation.........
     
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  23. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Senior Member

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    Congrats! Can only be a good thing, regardless of outcome surely?
    I'm interested: how did the publisher hear you were working on novel? Did you mention it to one of the editors you already work with and he/she passed the information on?
     
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  24. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, that's pretty much how it happened. The publishing world isn't as big as it seems and people talk. Just didn't know anyone was talking about me.
     
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  25. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Member

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    Get your agent involved, yesterday.
     

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