The Proposal, Now More Than Ever

May 17th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Here’s an older interview with Brenda Copeland that we missed. Since all things editors are fascinating (except, possibly, the part where they put their shoes on one foot at a time, just like the rest of us), we have been burdened with guilt and whatnot because of our falling down on the job. Hmm, that might not be entirely true.

Copeland goes in depth into what pleases her, describing the moment when she feels a connection with an author like this:

The writing has to be top notch: strong voice, clear, so I don’t find myself skipping ahead because I’m bored, nor going back a page or two because I’ve lost the thread of what the author is trying to say. If the writer is able to keep up with me, if we’re reading at the same pace as the manuscript, that’s always a very good sign.

She also discusses the importance of agents matching the right work to the right editor (and you all thought you’d moved past that game when you graduated to first grade). Even more important is her belief that a work, especially for a first author, needs to be complete. None of this throwing the first thirty pages into the world and hoping it will fly on its own.

One of the things I’m seeing lately, and it’s a real shame, is agents pulling on that send point that I just made, agents sending books and proposals out before they’re ready. That could mean a partial of a first novel, and there are very few houses that will acquire a first novel just on a partial. There’s just too many risks involved and we see so many first novels that there’s really no reason to—best to wait and see the novel through to completion and then send it out to the editor. Also, with the popularity of blogs and Internet sites, what I’ve seen from some agents is they just send in the blog material. So? It’s not a substitute for a proposal. The old fashioned rules of putting together a proposal apply now more than ever.

File Under: Publishers and Editors