Thursday, April 07, 2011

No, Really. Finish the Manuscript.

Twitter-Q: "[I] would love to know why a full mss is always required, it would save time and heartbreak to know five chapters in the book sucks"
I get variations on this pretty much every day, like so: "Do I have to finish my ms before querying?" Yes. "But ... do I REALLY have to finish my ms before querying?" Yes. "OK, but, let's say I query before I finish my ms..." Don't. "But it takes so long to get an agent, and I've got a good 50 pages finished..." Sigh.

See the thing is, I just can't critique your work, or tell you if you are wasting your time, or whatever. Really. I think you are great, but I can't help you with those things. It is not my job.

Sort of like, when the landscaper comes to your house, you don't show them into the attic and leave them there. (Well... I guess you might do that, but it would be super weird, and probably lead to a bad lawn and possibly a lawsuit.) It just... isn't their job to talk to you about insulation. They are outdoor folk.

I am not a critique partner. I am an agent. I take your (finished) manuscript, help you polish it, then play "matchmaker" and sell it to a publisher. So I am looking for a manuscript that I not only love, but that I think I can sell. I am not making a match between your random, unwritten notions and a publisher, much in the same way that modern matchmakers generally make the match between two consenting adults, and don't marry off unborn children. If you are sending me unfinished material, you are not even close to giving me what I am looking for, because I can't sell it.*

*This advice void if you are already well-published and/or famous.