Sunday, November 11, 2007

A question from a listener re: novels....

An email from a podcast listener (who gave me permission to post it here):


I discovered your podcast about a month ago and I have been listening to the old ones first. I am still in September but I am absolutely loving the show!! It is so refreshing to hear writers talk about their writing process. When I first thought about writing, I took up a conversation with a "writing" friend of mine. The friend said I needed to sit down and outline my story, define my characters and so on. The very process became frustrating such that I put my pen down for nearly three years. Then, I decided I would just sit and write--with no idea where the journey would take me--I found this process exciting and I could write and write and write. And now, after hearing some of your interviews, I find that I am not alone--many of your writers have said they use the same process--how exciting!!!

So, thank you. The interviews with agents has also been very illuminating. I am really getting excited about the novel writing process.

I have a question; From some of the interviews you've had with agents, I am thinking that it is possible to sell a novel without even having a completed book to show--is that true? In other words, I can write the query, maybe an outline and a few chapters. If this is true, and a sale is made, then how much time does the author have to produce the entire manuscript? And, is any money disbursed before the entire manuscript is delivered?

Thank you so much for the Podcast!

Rob Rainey


Okay, an answer for you, Rob...
These days, even for most published novelists, partials are no longer possible. Just about all novelists I talk with must write the entire book and before submitting it to their agent. Nonfiction books are most always purchased without being finished, but with a book proposal. Even many memoirs. But novels, no. I wish! It's so hard to know how the writer will pull of the story and characters and ending, without reading it in full.

If any authors reading this have a different experience, please, post it here.

1 comment:

CHRIS PASH said...

nonfiction can be sold on a proposal but even then they want to see sample chapters ... they want to see if the story sells.

here's the opening of my own proposal:

It’s the 1970s.

A group of hippies climb into rubber boats and head out to sea to face explosive head harpoons. They have whales to save. And they have faith.

The whalers have steel ships, spotter aircraft, sonar, radar and working radios. They have high paying jobs. And they have the law on their side.