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Writing Books/Need some advice on the writing biz.


Dear Ms. McCutcheon:

I'm presently working on a novel, my first.
I have just finished the first chapter.  I'd like to know at what point I should start shopping around for a publisher and/or an agent?  Why is an agent necessary?
I'd like someone to also assess the viability of the book I'm writing.  Any suggestions?
If the book is viable, what is the typical cut between the publisher and writer.
And, at what point should I get a lawyer involved?

Respectfully yours,
Howard Cooper,
Arlington, VA

Dear Howard,
Thank you for your question.

You will certainly need an agent at some stage, as most publishers will not accept a manuscript directly from an author. The agent will assist you in finding a publisher and assess the viability of your work. It is often the case that an agent will request further work on some parts or all of the book before agreeing to represent you. For this work the agent gets between 10 and 15 percent of your royalties. The amount of royalties will be the subject of negotiations between the publisher and your agent. It is not usual to involve a lawyer at any stage unless there are legal issues and even then that is normally the domain of the publisher.

I suggest that you find an agent who has a good track record with the genre of writing you are working in and send them a one page synopsis, a sample chapter and half a page about yourself.

I hope this helps - and good luck with your writing.


Sandy McCutcheon

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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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