Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
While I was finishing my second novel I took a break from this series of posts where I answer questions from writers. But I handed over my manuscript a fortnight ago and today I've had a query from an Australian writer called Shane, who has almost completed his first novel. This is what he said:
I've written about 80,000 words and estimate that I am about 80 per cent finished. I had a look at your blog and noticed that you have had some real success with your published novels and was hoping you might be able to spare a couple of moments to give me some advice on getting my novel published.
Yes, I'm always happy to help. There are two ways you can jump here, depending on how thoroughly you've edited the 80,000 words. I'll come to your options in a minute, but I choose to edit AFTER I've finished writing. I'll explain why in a forthcoming post.
Option 1. If you've edited the 80,000 words, and you're reasonably confident that the edited version is good to go, you could consider getting in touch with publishers and agents. Generally, Australian publishers prefer that rookie (ie: unpublished) authors go first to agents.
If this is what you want to do, you now need to write a synopsis of your novel. Some people write synopses that are 10,000 words long, but my synopsis for my first novel, Vegemite Vindaloo, was just three sentences long.
The process of contacting agents and sending them your synopsis and the first three chapters of your novel is described in an earlier post in this series, A Monopoly On Query Letters.
Option 2. Finish the entire book, give it a complete edit and polish and then send the synopsis and first three chapters to agents. The choice is yours.
Bear in mind I'm only an email or blog comment away and it would be my very great pleasure to mentor an up-and-coming Australian novelist. I was extremely lucky to find a major publisher the wrong way, even before I'd finished my novel, but I would like to use that experience to guide other promising novelists.