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View Full Version : So, how exactly does one go about proposing a novel?



Deizelcore
09-05-2011, 11:09 PM
Good day to you and thanks for taking the time to view this thread.

The folks from the "Short Fiction" forums said that it would be wiser for me to quit writing shorts (in order to gather experience in writing) and get start working on a novel if that's the ultimate goal.

After reading multiple threads and doing a little bit of research on my own I found out that most people recommend getting a deal with an agent before writing the full manuscript (apparently it's for the sake of saving time).
From what I've learned, the process is roughly:

1) Write a good outline for what you consider to be a worthwhile novel concept.
2) Write and rewrite the first 2-3 chapters.
3) Submit all of this to a ton of agents that are looking for something like your concept.
4) If you land a deal and sign a contract - write the full novel. If not - try again with another concept.

Is this correct?
Because it seems kind of counter-intuitive to me, even if only because you sell your work before it's fully written.

So, anyway, the question:

(1) What's the optimal way of proposing to an agent and (2) would it be fine, as opposed to being a complete waste of time for both parties, for one to actually complete the piece, even if only in the form of a first draft, before submitting the full outline to an agent?

Lucy
09-05-2011, 11:12 PM
You've been very misinformed.

You must write the novel first, before you seek an agent or a publisher. Your plan works for non-fiction, but for a novel it goes:

1. Write novel.
2. Edit the novel.
3. Query agents.

Corinne Duyvis
09-05-2011, 11:14 PM
I'm not sure who told you that, but I'm afraid they're wrong. As a new author, you need to not only complete your novel before contacting an agent, you need to edit and polish it as much as possible. Though it might feel like it if your novel doesn't sell, it's never a waste of time--you learn with every one you write. (I'm on my sixth novel at the moment. I don't regret the first five one bit. *g*)

When you're an established author, you can get away with proposals.

Good luck!

Little Ming
09-05-2011, 11:27 PM
Good day to you and thanks for taking the time to view this thread.

The folks from the "Short Fiction" forums said that it would be wiser for me to quit writing shorts (in order to gather experience in writing) and get start working on a novel if that's the ultimate goal.

After reading multiple threads and doing a little bit of research on my own I found out that most people recommend getting a deal with an agent before writing the full manuscript (apparently it's for the sake of saving time).
From what I've learned, the process is roughly:

1) Write a good outline for what you consider to be a worthwhile novel concept.
2) Write and rewrite the first 2-3 chapters.
3) Submit all of this to a ton of agents that are looking for something like your concept.
4) If you land a deal and sign a contract - write the full novel. If not - try again with another concept.

Is this correct?
Because it seems kind of counter-intuitive to me, even if only because you sell your work before it's fully written.

So, anyway, the question:

(1) What's the optimal way of proposing to an agent and (2) would it be fine, as opposed to being a complete waste of time for both parties, for one to actually complete the piece, even if only in the form of a first draft, before submitting the full outline to an agent?

May I ask where you gathered this information from? I've never seen any threads here that have given that information (unless it was later corrected).

But the above posters are correct. Write the novel first, then rewrite, edit, polish until it is the best you can make it. Then query agents following their individual guidelines exactly.

hillaryjacques
09-05-2011, 11:31 PM
1) Write a good outline for what you consider to be a worthwhile novel concept.
2) Write and rewrite the first 2-3 chapters.
3) Submit all of this to a ton of agents that are looking for something like your concept.
4) If you land a deal and sign a contract - write the full novel. If not - try again with another concept.


That sounds very similar to the advice I've seen for proposing non-fiction work.

The others are spot on regarding novel-writing. Finish, edit and polish a novel and query before attempting to query agents.

Cyia
09-05-2011, 11:48 PM
Fiction work (novels) are queried AFTER the book is written. Non-fiction work is done on 3 or chapters + an outline and proposal. If you submit an incomplete novel, or worse a "concept" to an agent, you're going to be rejected because they have no idea if you're capable of finishing it to the level of professionalism required by a publisher.

Having said that, once you're published, then you can go the "chapters + outline" route, but ONLY if you're established enough that a publisher's confident they can count on consistent results from you.

Little Ming
09-06-2011, 12:00 AM
I forgot about the non-fiction angle, but in which case don't call it a "novel." ;) Maybe the OP can come back and clarify.

Tromboli
09-06-2011, 12:03 AM
That's exactly what I thought. You misread and took the advice for non-fiction as the same for fiction. Not the case. Often a non-fiction work can be sold just based on concept and platform.

A fiction novel doesn't necessarily need a platform for promotion (though it does help). It needs to be completed, polished and awesome before you contact anyone in the industry. (Unless you happen to talk to someone at a conference. Bringing up a work in progress can be beneficial but never assume anything will come from it)

shaldna
09-06-2011, 01:06 PM
After reading multiple threads and doing a little bit of research on my own I found out that most people recommend getting a deal with an agent before writing the full manuscript (apparently it's for the sake of saving time).
From what I've learned, the process is roughly:

1) Write a good outline for what you consider to be a worthwhile novel concept.
2) Write and rewrite the first 2-3 chapters.
3) Submit all of this to a ton of agents that are looking for something like your concept.
4) If you land a deal and sign a contract - write the full novel. If not - try again with another concept.

Is this correct?



No.

If you are writing fiction then you write the book FIRST. Why would an agent or editor take you on without reading what you have written?

You write the book first, then query agents/editors.

Also, in terms of writing the first three chapters and then querying - there are a ton of threads about why this is a bad idea. What if the agent or editor asks to see the whole book and you say 'i haven't written it' - it comes across as very unprofessional.

NON fiction is different in that you generally have a couple of chapters, a detailed outline and you query that way.