Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Give me your partials...

I hit the jackpot, or at least the, um, pot this week. Two of my top agent choices responded to my queries with requests for partials. A partial, for those of you lucky enough not to have ever dreamed of being a novelist, consists of a synopsis and the first few chapters of your book.

Agents are inundated by writers, all of whom dream that they are the next J.K. Rowling, and the agents can't possible read every manuscript. So, they have this established hierarchy of submission (dig the double meaning, dude)... first you query them; write a letter where you condense your entire book into one or two paragraphs and beg them to read your manuscript.

If they like your letter, they request your partials. In the synopsis part of the partials, you must once again condense your book, but this time the agent will allow you to use between one and five pages (usually with the caveat that anything longer than one page be double spaced, so two pages becomes four). The sample chapter portion of the partials is actually part of your novel, complete with things like character development, description, story line... but only the first 50 pages or so, and only the FIRST chapters. Writers who pin their success to a great ending, but who don't write a great beginning never get beyond this point. Some writers spend weeks writing and re-writing just the first paragraph, hoping they can hook the reader (and an agent), and get them to read on.

If the agent likes your synopsis, and if your writing style is strong enough, the agent will request your full manuscript. If they like that well enough, they will offer to represent you. Then they start the whole process over, only this time THEY are submitting to publishers.

Submission. Submitting. Submit. Submissive.

Like any good cowboy poet, I own a pair of chaps, but I don't think they were designed with this whole submission thing in mind. Oh, well, I'm a good sport. Whip me, beat me, buy my book.

Mark Pettus,
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

0 comments so far. Thank you,

Let me know what you think

Leave a comment


Post a Comment