if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! Double the Daphne!

Friday hit me like a ton of bricks, and I apologize for not getting a blog post out. To make it up to you: Double the Daphne! First question. Erin asks

I was wondering, if an author has written a manuscript which they plan to write a sequel to, when is a good time to tell the agent they’re querying that they plan for the book to have a companion? Should this be stated in their query letter?

I wouldn’t, Erin, and here’s why. You have to sell this book first, or else what good is the sequel? Now, you may have the sequel all sketched out in your mind, but unless you mean to trick your readers with an unfinished book one, you still need to have a conclusion. And that’s the book you have to pitch me on in the query, sell me on in your opening chapters, and reel me in with the complete manuscript. Once I love that, then we’ll have a phone conversation and ask what else you’re working on, and THEN you can tell me about the brilliant sequel you’ve plotted out. D’accord?
Next question! Kris writes

I’m a fashion writer/blogger, was featured in VOGUE.fr and WWD, and mentioned in NYTimes.com and Forbes.com, and I’m moving into fiction. When I mentioned this to a friend in TV (which may explain his advice), he said I should get an agent as soon as possible. What do you think? Is it premature to find an agent to submit fiction to glossies like Esquire, or I should find a great rep right away? I’m also working on my first novel. And I’m also really hot and young. And, almost as importantly, I’m very talented. Check out some of my writing. There’s a photo of me in the header.

Wow. So you’re hot AND young? Let me just rush to sign you as a client!!
Sorry, Kris, but literary agents don’t work the same way Hollywood agents do, and you’re right to mistrust your friend’s advice. Most agents want to see your completed novel before they consider signing you on, and most (I know I’m generalizing, but if any of my agent friends work otherwise, please let me know!) don’t represent magazine submissions until you’re a published novelist. Even then, unless you’re Tom Wolfe, they may leave the magazine submissions to you.
So, bully for you for being young and hot, but until your novel is hot, then just keep writing.

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