'First three chapters'

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Teatime, Jan 28, 2008.

  1.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    Hi all,

    Just a brief question: many agents ask for three sample chapters, or the first three chapters.
    My mss has a prologue (with no chapters), then a Part: I and chapters begin after that. The prologue is about 2,500 words long; the prologue plus the first two chapters of Part: I is about 4,500 words.

    Is this the sort of length agents are looking for when they want to see three chapters? Or perhaps sending the prologue on its own might be better?

    Thanks a lot,

    Jon
  2.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    I would personally send the prologue and the first two chapters, but my rule of thumb is: if you're uncertain, ask the specific person to whom you intend to submit material.
  3.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    Thanks for the speedy reply - already acted on the advice!

    Jon
  4.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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  5.  
    Havlen

    Havlen Unregistered User

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    My personal rule of thumb would be: if a prologue is a page or less then don't count it as a chapter, and if it is more along the lines of chapter length to definitely count it as a prologue.

    But then again, to date, I've only written one thing with a prologue and I ended up axing the prologue for that one. So I am no authority ;)
  6.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    Hi all again -

    Just realised, after phoning every potential agent in the yearbook over the past few days, that '3 chapters' can vary from novel to novel. For me, it is about 4,500 words (as I said above), but some agents have said '3 chapters, or 30-50 pages or so', which implies a certain length of those chapters. My 3 chapters come up to about 23 pages double spaced and so on.

    Is this something I should contact the agents about again, or are my 3 chapters likely to be sufficient for those agents that specify, well, 3 chapters?

    I have read some books that have a chapter per page, for instance...

    Thanks
  7.  
    JDP

    JDP Never told a lie. Ever.

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    My gut would suggest that if they ask for three chapters, you should send them three chapters. Assuming they want to read more, they'll ask for it.
  8.  
    Havlen

    Havlen Unregistered User

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    If they ask for three chapters, you can't go wrong by sending three chapters. If they read more than the first ten or so pages you are doing good.

    Also, I'd avoid calling potential agents multiple times. Of course, in the States, you avoid ever calling them unless they call you first. Think it is a little more relaxed over there, but still wouldn't push it.
  9.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    Ok.

    Basically, it's one agency in particular that I'm thinking about.
    I really like the agency. So I want to maximise my chances with them.
    They asked me for 3 chapters, or the first 50 or so pages - they said it's up to me what I send, they just want an impression of the book.

    The first 3 chapters brings me up to 23 or so pages, and the writing there is fine.
    Past that, I am not entirely happy with the writing for the next eight pages or so. Before anyone says 'make it better!', I've tried, and it's perfectly readable and so on, but I am not sure I would want it to end any sample submission I send in. And beyond THAT, it's fine again, and if I ended on, say, page 56, that would end on a decent bit of description.

    I realise this is quite cynical, but what would people recommend here? I think those eight pages are fine when in context - I've made them as good as I can - I just would be a little uneasy including them in any submission where they would form a large fraction of the text.

    I guess my options are to stretch the 50 page limit to 56 pages, which includes those eight pages, or the three chapter option, where my concern is I'm simply far below their '... or 50 pages' suggestion.

    I would welcome any thoughts. Thanks
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2008
  10.  
    SJAB

    SJAB The storyteller

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    Teatime, I would send up to the nearest break around the 50 pages mark. Fingers crossed for you!

    And the end of the third chapter of my latest effort I am submitting is on page 54 if that helps at all.
  11.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    I'd just send the first three chapters...
  12.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    Haha. God, I'm useless at decisions like this.

    I don't suppose you could elaborate why, John?

    Thanks.
  13.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    If they asked in the first place for three chapters, don't agonise over it, just send them...!
  14.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    Ok. I'm agonising over the fact that they said 'the first 50 pages or so, or three chapters.' - because three chapters only is about half of 50 pages for me! Maybe they assumed 3 chapters is about 50 pages.

    Ugh. I will just send it and hope, but I do want to get things right.
  15.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    As someone said, everyone's three chapters are different. Don't agonise too much! It can paralyse you.
  16.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    You're right. And I will send off this package in a few days, whether or not I feel it's right or not.

    It's just when the agency gave me those two alternatives, well, i don't want to send them half of what they actually want to read through.

    As an agent, I guess you can tell whether you want to read more of the work in 23 pages, correct? Though you ask for six chapters if I'm right, which would be about 50 pages....

    Thank you for indulging my anxiety :)
  17.  
    daisybee

    daisybee New Member

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    First off, Teatime, well done as I assume it's done & written-so pat on the back. :D

    Secondly-send three chapters and don't eat your heart out. JUST DO IT. I say this for your own good, honest. Once they see three chapters and like it (see the optimism?) then they'll see the rest in due course right?

    Anytime you are given an OR option, ignore whatever it is and go with the first, like I do. That way the decision making process is removed. :D

    Best of luck with it, and don't cripple yourself over the small stuff. You've done the hardest part dude, you finished!! YAY!! (Okay getting published is not easy but hey, one mountain at a time).:)

    Okay maybe my post came too late-GOOD LUCK!LOL.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2008
  18.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    Thanks :)

    And now that I think about it, they did say 'first 50 pages, or first three chapters' ;)

    Haha.
    Look, I'd prefer the first three chapters. Just don't want to short change them and not give them enough to go on. As you can see, I need to learn about anxiety control.
  19.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    An agent or publisher - and this has ben said here many, many times - turns down 90% of their submissions in the first ten pages. If they are interested after your three chapters, they will ask to see the entire book, most likely.

    Like daisybee said: JUST DO IT!
  20.  
    Teatime

    Teatime New Member

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    3 chapters it is. Thanks.

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