When to NOT send a book proposal?

When you write a novel.

I thought this was obvious, but my slush pile this morning turns up a book proposal for a novel...complete with "competing works" that includes non-fiction.

In case this is news to you: for a novel just send the first ten pages with a cover letter.

Proposals are for non-fiction books.

Proposals are generally used when you're selling something that hasn't been finished.

You MUST have a finished novel before querying an agent, let alone submitting it for consideration to a publisher.

Any questions?


Bernita said...

I assume that if the finished novel is proposed as part of a series, that information could be nicely included in the cover letter.

Miss Snark said...


Ric said...

So, you've managed to get the first ten pages read (presumably - since you get an email telling you to send the first three chapters.)

AT this point, do you send other stuff? Synopsis, chapter by chapter outline, bio sheet, marketing stuff?

will any of this stuff tip the dear Miss SNark into requesting the REST of the novel? If after the first 50 pages or so, she is still intrigued but just not sure yet?

Miss Snark said...

Read my font: send ONLY what they ask for.
Follow the directions.
Resist the urge to be helpful or persuasive.

occasional_anonymous said...

When sending the first three chapters, be sure to include the first ten pages that you sent already. Don't assume they're still sitting somewhere waiting to be united with the rest. More likely they're somewhere lying about/covered in coffee stains/busy being recycled into a newspaper/on someone else's desk/lost for all time.

Desperate Writer said...

See, that's the thing. Everyone is taught different things, there is no uniform "code" I'm finding. From the time I got into this crazy world of writing and submitting, I was told by various workshop presenters, and creative writing teachers that a proposal is a cover letter, synopsis and three chapters. I was never taught that a query was a cover letter then 10 pages. So lately, I've just been sending queries, thinking I was such a rebel. har har.

Now, I see I'm supposed to do it as a cover and 10. Well, maybe including the first 10 pgs will make up for the crappy queries I seem to churn out.

Miss Snark said...

Leaving aside what to call things, the question of what to send is ALWAYS best answered by the agency directly. Look at the website. Follow the directions. Only in the absence of directions, do you start listening to me, or anyone else.

Desperate Writer said...

Yes, That's what I've been doing too.