Sending your novel to an agent/publisher is a big decision. And as writers are often self-critical it can be hard to take the plunge. But if you are thinking of sending yours out, here are some things to consider first.
It’s finished (with editing!)
It sounds silly, but it’s not uncommon for people to send unfinished stories to agents/publishers. Some even pitch an idea before they’ve started writing. But the hard truth is, if you’re not an established writer, an idea alone is not enough. Agents need to know you can finish work, that you can commit proper time to it, and that they’ve got a complete story to work for. And finished doesn’t mean the first draft either. You need to have edited, and edited and edited some more. It needs to be as polished as you feel you can do on your own.
You’ve read it again after a break
After edits, when you think it’s ready, take a little break. Then, return to your novel with a fresh perspective. You’re more likely to notice mistakes after you’ve distanced yourself for a little while. And it can help you to tighten the plot while working out plot holes.
Someone else has read it
Agents don’t want to be the first person who has read your work. Make sure somebody else has read it to. It doesn’t have to be a professional, but do try and find somebody who is happy to honest with you. Beta readers and critique partners are no valuable in helping you spot mistakes, and advising on everything from plot twists to character likeability.
You’ve fine-tuned your synopsis and cover letter
Almost as important as the novel itself, your cover letter and synopsis are vital. The cover letter is your chance to make a lasting impression, to sell your story enough to get it read. And the synopsis needs to sum up your full plot, given agents enough insight to decide whether they will read it or not.
You’ve done your research
Research covers a vast number of things in writing a novel/seeking an agent. First, any factual elements in your story need to be checked. Otherwise it shows a lack of attention to detail. But you also need to research your market, find out more about your genre and of course, learn about the agent. It’s vital you take your research seriously, to give you the best chance of success.
I’m still learning about all this, so if you have any advice please do drop it below.