I've Just Finished My Book
“I’ve just finished my book. . . ”
As an agent, I know that one of the hardest things to do is to actually follow through with any book idea, as in the author finishes writing the actual book. In the life of a writer, this not a choice; any idea must be finished before readers can see it.
For anyone who receives queries, the biggest sign that a writer is not ready to approach agents or editors is when we learn that they “just finished” the book idea that’s being presented. The immediate understanding is that this is only the beginning of that book’s journey to publication.
For any book idea pertaining to works of fiction and memoirs, the best version of the book needs to be presented to a publisher, let alone an agent. Due to the large volume of submissions we receive, it’s essential authors provide books that are in the best shape they can be. There’s a good chance an author will only have one shot for a certain book idea when pitching to an agent or editor, due to our exploding inboxes and large workloads.
I believe this happens because of the excitement and honest joy of finishing any book. Writing a book is not for the lighthearted; it requires a commitment that goes well beyond the level of casual writing. Seeing any story to the end, and creating a world and a cast of characters is easier said than done. This is why I love working with writers. My authors regularly amaze me with their ability to do this, let alone do it well.
As an agent, I can only take out a book to editors that has been properly “baked.” I owe it to the editors to present strong ideas that are worth their time in considering, and I owe it to my authors to ensure that we’ve put in the necessary time and effort when presenting their books for publication.
For anyone who has just completed their book, I’m sending a virtual high five in your direction. You did it! You made it across the finish line! This is a moment to celebrate the exercising of those writing muscles.
The next step is to work with an editor to tighten up your story, to embrace every new draft of the book as these edits happen. Celebrate as each new draft makes it a stronger story that will win the hearts of readers and booksellers. When you’ve just finished your book, you’re still at the early stages of this publication journey, and it’s a milestone that is a valuable part of the writerly life.
Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner/literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. She brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table, bringing multiple years of experience as a bookseller in independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, and book development experience; previously a literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. She has a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences. Dawn co-founded the MN Publishing Tweet Up, is the current President of the Twin Cities Advisory Council for MPR, a member of the BOD for Loft Literary, and a teaching artist at Loft Literary. You can find her on Twitter at @redsofaliterary.