Can I Query Before I Finish My Novel?

Author:
Publish date:

Q: I'm currently writing my first novel and am about halfway finished, but I have completed an outline and synopsis. Can I start querying agents now?

A: Being a first-time novelist, it's important to finish your book before sending out any query letters. Without a track record, you have no proof that you can finish a novel. And the number of folks who finish writing novels is dramatically smaller than the number of folks who start them (I'm certainly guilty of having three unfinished novels taking up valuable space in my underwear drawer.)

Agents are inundated with submissions and they don't want to deal with unfinished work. From their perspective, it makes no sense to waste time getting excited about a story that may never get completed (or may not fulfill the promise made in a query letter).

So spend the next few weeks/months completing your book, including edits, rewrites, more edits and more rewrites. Do the same with your query letter. Make sure everything is in tip-top shape. Once you feel confident in your work—or as close to confident as any writer can be—it's finally time to slap a stamp on the envelope and drop the query in the mail (or send it via e-mail, depending on the agent's guidelines).

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwmedia.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line.

Looking for more?

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!

20_most_popular_writing_posts_of_2020_robert_lee_brewer

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Dulan_1:14

On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.