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What's An Aspiring Author To Do?

This column is based on questions Margaret gets asked by those who also want to write romance novels. The answers are based on her personal experience. Every author must and should find their own way along this path; however, sometimes it helps to know how it was for an author who's reached the goal of publication.

This column's question:
I've been asked for a "partial." What's that?

Margaret answers:

A "partial" means they want to see the first three chapters of your novel and a synopsis. That the *FIRST* three chapters; not just any three chapters you think are great.

How long should the synopsis be? This is where "author guidelines" come in handy. Most publishers have websites, and you can often find this information there.

If you are an unpublished writer, you likely will not sell based on a partial. (I would say never, but I've learned to "never say never" where publishing is concerned, and if it's that boffo a partial, who knows?) What will probably happen next is that the editor will either (a) say "thanks, but no thanks or (b) request the complete manuscript.

How long does it take to get an answer based on the partial you sent in? This varies from publisher to publisher, but one thing's for sure: do not simply sit and wait to hear back. If you haven't quite finished the book, finish it. If you've finished the book, start the next one. Because if they want your full manuscript and you can get it to them immediately, that might speed up your first sale. And if they buy that book, the next thing they're going to want to know is if you've got another.

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This material is Margaret's intellectual property. If you would like to print it out for your personal use, feel free. If you belong to a writing group and would like to reproduce it for your fellow writers, please e-mail Margaret at maggiejmoore @ (no spaces). All other use is prohibited.

Copyright © 2005 by Margaret Wilkins. This material may not be copied without permission.