Can I query my book before it's done?

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I love the old John Grisham story about sending in an unfinished manuscript. He'd published his first novel, a Time to Kill, and it had netted him $15,000 and he was pretty thrilled with that. He had a good relationship with his agent so sent in the first three chapters of The Firm asking if it was looking like it might work.
The agent grabbed the envelope on his way out to have something to read while he waited on a lunch with someone from Mirage about a book they'd bought to turn into a film, but had seemed to stall. The Mirage person was notoriously late, and the agent read what Grisham had sent while waiting. the exec explained the other film wouldn't be made, the theme had gone cold. "Legal thrillers," he said. "That's what we want. If you see any of those, let us know."
The agent held up the start of the Firm. The Mirage guy skimmed it and said, "we'll give you $600,000." When the agent told Grisham he's just sold The Firm for $600.000, Grisham says he replied, "But I haven't written The Firm."
To which, the agent replied, "well, they bought it, and they want it within a month."
It's interesting to reread The Firm with that in mind. The first two chapters are really exceptional. The rest of the book reads as if someone was writing as fast as they could type.
An unforeseen problem with querying before the work is done: It might sell.
 
Honestly, for six hundred thousand dollars I'd be like BET.
I think we all would.
OTOH, GRRM, who these days won't get out of his chair for $600,000, made his big money deal with HBO thinking, no problem, I've got five years head start on them and it's only 7 books total.
From the perspective of a fan of the books, i kind of wish the offer had come in a couple years later.
You get the sense he does, as well. though he'd want to keep the $15m per season from HBO, plus $10m per year in book sales since the TV thing began.
 
I think we all would.
OTOH, GRRM, who these days won't get out of his chair for $600,000, made his big money deal with HBO thinking, no problem, I've got five years head start on them and it's only 7 books total.
From the perspective of a fan of the books, i kind of wish the offer had come in a couple years later.
You get the sense he does, as well. though he'd want to keep the $15m per season from HBO, plus $10m per year in book sales since the TV thing began.
He is the world's biggest procrastinator.
 
He is the world's biggest procrastinator.
He is also one of the world's richest procrastinators.
The two might be connected.
I mean, his four decades of writing books that paid just enough to allow him to write the next book, like his super-hero series that didn't exactly make him a household name, but certainly had a devoted fan base (I've only read two or three) would seem like the goal. Then you're worth tens of millions without having had to write anything beyond what had been done, and the money keeps piling in despite being a procratinator? I'd like to think I'd continue to write. I really want to believe I would be compelled to continue to write. But when it gets hard, when you're stuck and getting out isn't working, is it possible that the thought might enter your head that "I really don't need this, do I?"
 
He is also one of the world's richest procrastinators.
The two might be connected.
I mean, his four decades of writing books that paid just enough to allow him to write the next book, like his super-hero series that didn't exactly make him a household name, but certainly had a devoted fan base (I've only read two or three) would seem like the goal. Then you're worth tens of millions without having had to write anything beyond what had been done, and the money keeps piling in despite being a procratinator? I'd like to think I'd continue to write. I really want to believe I would be compelled to continue to write. But when it gets hard, when you're stuck and getting out isn't working, is it possible that the thought might enter your head that "I really don't need this, do I?"
The trouble with writing stories, especially deep character stories, is that the writer is the one most addicted. There is no stopping without serious consequences, even madness shining its light as a new character overwhelms the once-normal person who earned enough to 'not have to do it'.
Even if (all those scenarios: never sold anything, sold my soul for a squillion bucks, etc.), I'd still write stories. I may not try to sell them anymore, and I may share them only with family and friends, but not write? Impossible (in French).
 
The trouble with writing stories, especially deep character stories, is that the writer is the one most addicted. There is no stopping without serious consequences, even madness shining its light as a new character overwhelms the once-normal person who earned enough to 'not have to do it'.
Even if (all those scenarios: never sold anything, sold my soul for a squillion bucks, etc.), I'd still write stories. I may not try to sell them anymore, and I may share them only with family and friends, but not write? Impossible (in French).
As i said, I'd like to believe that would be me. But GRRM was about as productive as any writer in recent years, something like 150 published books (more than 20 of them award winners, incl Hugos and Nebulas). He needed a fix as intensely as anyone. Nothing could stop him from writing, until so, so many buckets of filthy lucre arrived. After which, apparently, he was able to write a couple new titles for his books.
 
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