You’re an author with lots of talent and a great idea! You know the market and are confident your story will work. There’s plenty of plot to make word count. So why not sell on proposal?
Selling on proposal seems ideal, but might not be a good idea for the new author. Why not?
A new author can’t necessarily gauge how long it will take to write a book. Perhaps the first book rode like the wind. The author was excited, and chapters poured onto the screen. But book two might not go as well. Writing it may feel like a chore, and take an extra six months. Or it may go even better as the author maintains excitement. But it’s hard to know without having the experience of writing at least two or three books behind you. Before I became a published book author, I wrote three complete novels and started two others. They will never see the light of day, at least not in their present form. Despite majoring in journalism in college, meaning I had formal training, the experience was nevertheless a crucial part of my process.
Ahead of the Game
One great thing about having the first novel completed upon contract is that you don’t have to hurry to write the first book! Not only that, but there’s a strong chance the editor can place your book on the roster in a hurry, jump-starting that first published book. Regardless, you can write the second book during the publishing process of the first book, leaving you with plenty of time to do your best work. The extra time also gives you time to live outside your writing hole.
Great Start, then Meh
Some time ago, an editor told me that many authors put everything into the first three chapters, but the rest of the book didn’t deliver. That’s why she didn’t want to see a proposal. She wanted to see a complete manuscript. Please note that productive veteran authors have earned the right to sell on proposal. Some authors even go to contract on a paragraph, or even the idea that they will write a book by a stated time. That’s a hard-won position, and one a new author aspires to. But in the meantime, a novice author will need to show an editor that her book delivers from page one to page 401. Not happy that you have to write the whole thing? See the previous paragraph.
How many books have you written?
Did you sell the first book you ever wrote?
What advice would you give to authors struggling to complete a manuscript?