Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why the First Chapters

I spent a recent Saturday morning making a feeble attempt to go through my submission piles (and for some of you with proposals under consideration, you know what I mean by feeble) when I came across a proposal that included chapters 1, 33, and two pages of chapter 45. So frustrating! Can you imagine buying a book where all the chapters are out of order? How would you know what the story was or even whether it was any good? That's the battle agents face when submitted random chapters.

To be honest, if you aren't sending me the first three chapters, but instead chapters of your own choosing, because "they show your strongest writing," it's an automatic rejection from me. Every chapter and every page should be your strongest writing, and if chapter 1 is good but chapter 2 isn't worth sending to me, then it probably isn't worth sending to a publisher or selling to a reader.

And as for those two pages of chapter 45, what's the point? Was this just an effort to make sure you didn't send me less than the 50-page limit we request with our proposals? Send full chapters only. If two chapters equal 48 pages, then only send two chapters instead of three. If three chapters equal 25 pages, then only send three chapters. When asking for partials or proposals, we want three chapters, but no more than 50 pages.

—Jessica

7 comments:

jolinn said...

I thought people didn't do that anymore?

Ella said...

I submitted a proposal a few weeks ago, so I understand you, I am wiating with baited breath! It must be kind of annoying (stress on the kind of, heh) to have submission guidelines for that very reason, so that striving authors can know what you are looking for and what it is that you want sent and have someone look over it or choose something else.

Your patience must truly be exceptional!

Anonymous said...

Great about the first chapters.
However, what about your series books? I see you do several.
Any insights on those and what kind of authors they are looking for? I met a Dummies Guide author and he said the people who author these types of books must be special because it is really difficult. He would never do it again. He was not represented by you, by the way. I can't believe that. What's the scope?
Thanks
Linda

Christine Keach said...

I can't believe people still send a submission like that. Then again, I'm sure there's a lot of stuff you get that I wouldn't believe!

The Queen-a Athena said...

I have to admit, I'm always somewhat intrigued by hearing of people sending bits & pieces from throughout the book. It's such a total change from what most of us would do that I kind of wonder, hmmm. Maybe they're more creative? Maybe it's that free spirit thing? it's such a different-drummer kind of thing that I'm fascintaed.

However - I also am not the one who has to try to make sense of these disjointed bits and pieces!

Dante Kleinberg said...

I think the subtext there is "Here are the parts of my book that don't suck."

Maybe they're trying to recreate the feeling of flipping randomly through a book on a 3 for 2 paperback table?

Chumplet said...

Okay, three chapters if less than 50 pages, and if 50 pages contain two chapters, so be it.

What the heck did I send you? Gasp! Damage control! Damage control!