Do I really have to have multiple books complete before I query an agent?

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Pinkarray

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I heard that agents tend to ask you what other books have you written before they rep you. Is it okay to query them one finished, polished book and tell them that I have other projects on the way? Or do I need to have another book finished first? If I need to have another book finished, how many do I need to have finished before I query an agent?
 

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Assuming you're talking novels and not non-fiction, you need to have one book finished. That's all.

Sure, when they sign you they'll want to ask what else you've got, what other projects you're working on, what you're planning, etc, but that's just for making long term plans.

One book. That's all.
 

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No other books needed. You’ll probably have other ideas & maybe a WIP, & you can tell agents about those, which will give them an idea of what to expect from you as a client. If you had other finished books, they might want to know that because it gives you a head start, potentially, on book 2. Or perhaps they decide that’s the book they want to market first. Or maybe they see the future of a potential 2-book deal. But it’s not going to be a dealbreaker. It’s just getting info so they know what kind of agent you want, what kind of client you’ll be, & how best they can represent you if you both decide you want to.
 
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I already finished a fictional children's book.
Then, yep, you can query agents who rep children's fiction.

Though, if you want to optimise your chances, my advice is to read a hundred queries of other people's, then critique a dozen queries, then edit your own query, and then ask for critique on your query.
 

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They will ask you that because they need to ascertain that you are capable of writing multiple books. Publishers will want to sign you to a contract that requires multiple books to potentially be written (assuming the first sells). If you can't do it, there's no point in publishing your first book.
 

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They will ask you that because they need to ascertain that you are capable of writing multiple books. Publishers will want to sign you to a contract that requires multiple books to potentially be written (assuming the first sells). If you can't do it, there's no point in publishing your first book.

I don't think this is generally true. The last few years have seen a move toward standalone books (at least in SFF). And a publisher is going to want to commit to as little as possible up front, even if they later opt to buy more books from you.

A lot of authors never publish more than one book. I certainly have never seen evidence you need more than one book completed when you're querying.
 
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Brigid Barry

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I have sent out over a hundred queries in the last couple of years (and those are just the ones I wrote down), and out of those over a hundred queries I have been asked exactly twice if I had other projects in the works. One by a small press that specifically wants authors to think in terms of series, and once by an agent who I think was curious more than anything else. 1.2% of the queries I've sent have asked about "other projects".

When you do your pre-submission research you will see who will be interested in a series, but in my experience that's the exception not the rule. Especially since the industry standard (rule? expectation?) is that you are only subbing one thing at a time.

Will you have better/different luck if you've already been published? Yes, but that's a different question entirely.
 

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I recently pitched a Big Agent in SFF at a conference. She asked if I had other work. It felt like a qualifying question, because it was after that that she asked for pages.