Monday, September 11, 2006

Submitting Before Completion

I posted recently about an author whose first chapters and query I LOVED and was incredibly enthusiastic about, but disappointed later when she told me she wouldn’t be able to finish the book—“Bummer,” posted August 22. Author Bella Andre commented:

One of the writers who called you back and said, "Um, how long do you think the book should be?" was me. ;-) You were so nice and told me the same thing you told this writer. "Take your time. Don’t rush it. I’ll wait." And you did. Although I’ll admit to cranking out the last half of the book in 3 weeks and then editing for only 3 more—granted, that’s my best/preferred writing style, so maybe that’s why it worked out for us?

Just thought I’d note that reading your post was like looking in a mirror . . . only I did finish the book, we do work together, and you did sell it in record time.

Interestingly enough more than one of my clients is an exception to the rule. Isn’t it funny how I can write an entire post about what you should do and post later about how things actually work? If you thought you were confused about this business before, stick to this blog. I’m guaranteed to confuse you even more.

Bella Andre (Take Me, published with Pocket) was an example of an author who submitted her first few chapters, whose work I immediately fell in love with (and let me clarify that Bella did have some background . . . I had seen and liked some of her previous work, she was a published Ellora’s Cave author, and her idea was brilliant and her writing beautiful), but she didn’t have that full manuscript finished. Bear with me, I really don’t remember all the details and didn’t remember that she did this at all until I read her comment. Selective memory—we forgive those we adore ;)

As you saw from her post she hustled and finished that book, but what you might not have picked up is that she did it in the style she was comfortable with. If you’re an author who takes a year to finish a book and goes through 25 rounds of revisions, submitting on the first three chapters with nothing else done is not going to work for you. While six weeks might seem like an eternity to you, it flies for me (proof of that is how far behind I am on reading submissions and yet how caught up I feel). However, a year does feel like an eternity to me and I will guarantee that if I request material and it doesn’t show up for a full year, I am not going to have that same enthusiasm. I will also guarantee that no matter how much I love the idea, the writing still counts, so turning in a shoddy manuscript just to get it in quickly isn’t going to do you any good. If it takes you a year, it takes you a year. While my enthusiasm might not be as high initially, maybe you have the ability to bring it up again.

Which reminds me . . . do you remember that full manuscript I requested at RWA appointments? It still isn’t here and it’s really bumming (where did that word come from anyway?) me out. I imagine, and hope, the author is doing revisions, tightening and strengthening. But I’ll be very disappointed if it just never shows up. Before you get on her case though, there could be a number of reasons that might happen . . . and I’ll discuss that tomorrow.



Unknown said...

I read Take Me, and I really enjoyed it, although the trade price was a choke-point. I was the other person who asked you about timelines, and I just wanted to say thanks, because I'm also one of those RWA fulls, (to a different person). And whew...six weeks is an eternity when you're stressed out. Thanks Bella.

Anonymous said...

Funny enough, Jessica, I haven't received the manuscript I was really excited about at Nationals either. Our readers may remember that both you and I were excited about pitches from "fill-ins." But I did get a nice note that said it's coming in the next couple of weeks, so I'm still holding out hope.

Cole Reising said...

I was wondering if you could answer a question for me -- It has to do with the query letter to an agent. I realize that my question is not something that boarders on the 'necessary' to include in the letter but I once came across the idea from some other agent and liked it. It is about adding where you think your book is a good fit.

What if you have searched the publishers and feel it could possibly fit with several -- do you just mention one or several? And on this same line of thinking - do you think it wise for the writer to submit the book to some of these publishers before/or at the same time they are enquiring with an agent they like?

Thank you for your time!

Anonymous said...

I'm a writer who writes quickly; so although I do often query before I'm done with something, by the time even a partial is requested, I'm usually finished. Of course, I still haven't found an agent...sigh.

Thanks for the info!

Bella Andre said...

Jessica--Loved the post, especially the part where you used the word "adore". ;-) And jolinn, thanks for not only reading Take Me but "really enjoying it" too.

;-) Bella