Friday, August 14, 2009

Multiple Projects Submitted

I'm wondering if you have any advice on how to write a query letter when
A) You have a completed short story collection. Many of the stories have appeared in good journals; a few have won awards.
B) You have the first sixty pages of a novel and a full synopses.

How do you combine both projects in a query, when you're looking for a two-book deal? Or do you just plug the novel, and then tell the interested agent the novel isn't finished yet, but...?

When we receive multiple projects from a new (as in, not published) author, we tend to treat the projects separately unless they're books in a fantasy series published by Lulu with a self-drawn cover (in which case, we reject). Maybe we'll want one project and not be interested in the other(s), though honestly I can't remember a new client my boss has taken on who had multiple projects presented. On the other hand, she does reject well over 99% of her applicants, so maybe it's just the way things played out.

Of your two projects, which I would examine separately:
a) Short story collections are bad. They're hard to publish. Very, very rarely do I put a short story collection in the maybe pile for my boss, and that's usually because the author says that every story in the collection has been published, and I recognize the names of the publications as being major places for short fiction. As for "awards" I've grown cynical about them, because there are, it seems like, an endless amount of writing awards someone can win if they just send the story around, as a large percentage of queries mention writing awards even if the writing is terrible. But you've got a decent pedigree there; it's worth a shot, but don't get your hopes up.

b) The manuscript should be finished before you submit it. End of story.