This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Already week 7 of What An Agent Wants! We do hope you've been enjoying it. Let us know – we love hearing your feedback.
To recap, we are asking our esteemed agent panel a question a week over ten weeks and publishing the answers right here for you guys. This week we ask…
Should a novel be finished before it is submitted to you and why?
Madeleine Milburn of the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency
I really do prefer this because I like to submit a complete manuscript to a publisher. In this climate, publishers are less likely to take risks on proposals. They want to see the whole book. It is also important to see proof that you can finish a whole book.
Laura Longrigg of MBA Literary Agents
Yes, ideally, because if I then ask to see the whole thing and have to wait nine months before I get it, I will have moved on to other things.
Hannah Ferguson of The Marsh Agency
Generally it’s more helpful if it is. Sometimes it takes writing to the end to fully understand the beginning, and it’s important to know your own novel before sending it in – and also to know that you in fact can finish writing it. Saying that, I have taken on authors in the very early stages of their writing when I have seen potential and am prepared to wait for the finished novel.
Lisa Eveleigh of the Richford Becklow Literary Agency
Yes. First time writers need to shape and structure an entire novel before it is ready to be seen, and let it grow into the best work it can be. Surprising things can happen even if an author is working to a detailed synopsis; a character can suddenly do something wholly unexpected.
I do work on fiction as it is being written with my existing clients but this is after we have worked on a few titles together
Sarah Lutyens of Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency
Unless you are so famous that someone will publish your laundry list (and let's face it, get a much better writer to write it for you) then when it comes to fiction, agents will usually wish to submit finished material to publishers. It's not unheard of for writers to get representation before they have finished a book but I think it's good to know that you are capable of finishing a book before embarking on the thorny path of getting it – and future books – published. It also means that it is 'your' book and not an attempt to please all its readers along the way.
Diane Banks of Diane Banks Associates
So much depends on how the plot resolves itself and whether the characters continue to be credible so yes, it needs to be finished. I've had my fingers burned in the past by offering representation on the basis of a partial ms.
Sheila Crowley of Curtis Brown
I have taken on authors in the past with a partial script but as Publishers are now more reluctant to buy Fiction on partial, it is best to have the script complete, but don’t rule anything out.
Do let us know what you think of our agent panel's answers in the comments below.
Next week we ask the agents how important platform is for aspiring writers