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Followup To
Question -
I was thinking of fixing up the opening chapters of my novel, and sending it back (the first 3 chapters only) to St. martin's Press again.  Do you think that is a good idea?  I have already thought of ways to improve the first three chapters.
1.  You told me before that if St. martin's Press requested the first three chapters that I must have had a very good book proposal.  I don't think I do...all I sent in was a query letter, which isn't all that great, and a one-page synopsis.  I didn't send in marketing info, or a bio.  Do you think they liked the plot of the novel?

2.  I don't have an that a possible reason why I didn't get accepted by St. martin's?

3.  If they liked my novel, and I DID NOT have an agent, could they still offer me a book contract?  or is this unlikely?
Answer -
Dear Anon,
Good to hear from you again. It must have been a great inquiry letter and synopsis. Maybe in the letter it looked to them like it was going to be apples, but when they read the chapter, it was oranges.
Your second question, agents. An agent can lead a horse to water, but can't make it drink. You got St. Martins to look at your work, and that's all that an agent could have done for you. You didn't need an agent to get into St. Martins, but the book was not right for them. An agent could not have done anything.
If St. Martins had liked your book, and you did not have an agent, then they would have offered you a contract. You don't need an agent to get a contract (but you do need to run any contract by an attorney, agent or no).
Agents are necessary if you want to approach the big publishers that don't look at unagented work. Since they work with big publishers, agents like to represent celebrity clients, such as famous politicians, journalists, and established writers.
Finding an agent can be just as hard as finding a publisher. Plus, once you find an agent, he or she may just put your manuscript on a list, and not do much else to market it. You could end up losing six months to a year while the agent sits on it.
My advice is to continue to refine the manuscript and continue to send your inquiry/synopsis to likely publishers. When the next publisher asks to see it, then it will be an even better book and they'll be more likely to pick it up.
I hope this helps,

Hi Anon,
I know what you mean. I recently had a manuscript returned by a publisher who asked to see it after reading my inquiry/synopsis. When it came back, I re-edited it and feel it's much better now. I wanted to send it back to the same publisher and say, "See, I know what you didn't like, but now it's fixed!"
However, I would caution you against sending it back to St. Martins at this time. They might interpret it as nagging. I suggest that you keep sending inquiries and look for someone new to read it.
After some time, say about six months to a year, if you still haven't found a publisher, and if your manuscript has changed significantly, you could try St. Martin's again.
However, I'll bet that if you keep trying, you will find a good home for it before then.
If your bait attracted one good fish, it will probably attract another.

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Nori J. Muster


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