Would you wait to finish the manuscript first?

In almost every blog post I have read, conversations I have had, and email exchange with authors, both published and aspiring, there has been one consistent theme: they have all recommended that one should finish the manuscript first before sending it to the publishers (or agents, as the case may be).

While this seems like a logical approach, my question is as follows: at least in India, most publishers expect you to send a book proposal which includes at a minimum a synopsis, sample chapters and author bio. Then, there is a long wait anywhere between two to six months before the publishers respond to you – informing whether your book proposal has been  shortlisted or not. Then you have to send the full manuscript, which will get reviewed again and then finally you will be informed of the decision.

While what I have written above may already be known to most of you, my question is as follows: Why wait to send the sample chapters till the entire manuscript is ready? Why cannot one send the sample chapters as soon as they are completed, and finish the rest of the book while the book proposal is being evaluated?

I would like to know the pro’s and con’s of doing so- I am thinking of trying this approach for my next book.

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Going back to the basics

I had mentioned in an earlier post that one also needs to think about some basic questions about one’s book that need some introspection. It’s like applying to grad school, or even a job. These are the questions make you think about the ‘why/who/how/what/where’ aspects of the book.

Here are a few of those q’s and my initial thoughts that I had penned down several months ago as I started writing Now Returned to India:

  1.  Why did I decide to write a book?

The main reason was to share my story with a wider audience. My online diary on the R2iclub forum, which forms the base material for the book, had received a good response, and the feedback was positive. So writing a book seemed like the logical extension of my work.

2. What would be the category or segment of the book?

Based on what I have read, discussed and learnt so far, my book would fall under the fiction/ humor category.

3. Why did I choose this segment?

There was no specific reason for choosing fiction/ humour. My book covers a two year period of my life, so its not quite an autobiography. Moreover, I thought fiction would make it more readable.

4. Fiction is okay, but why a satire?

First and foremost, I thought of humor/satire as a category because my book is based on incidents that are now life’s lessons. Many of them seemed to cause a lot of pain and emotional suffering at that point in time, but these are also incidents that I can sit back and laugh about. And laughter can be contagious. There have been several authors who are masters of tragedy, and I have a great amount of respect for them. But for me, humor would work best.

5. Who is my target reader?

I initially thought that the 30 to 40 year old readers, typically those who have spent a few years outside of India, would be my target readers. They continue to be the main segment I am focusing on. But as I am talking to more and more people, I am discovering new groups of people who might be interested too. For example, parents of NRIs are such a segment. In an age where almost every publisher and most first time authors are focusing on the 15 to 25 year old demographic, I might be considered as an outlier.

A big Hello and welcome aboard

Nearly two years ago, I began to pen down the outline for my first book. It is based on.. well, lets’ talk about it later :-).

The idea of writing a book has been brewing for quite some time now. Quite a few of you might have have read about my plans to write via Facebook, in my email signature, or in person. And I am very fortunate that my friends and family have told me that they would like to read my work. And I should make a special mention of my wife, who has supported me all along as I have started writing.

Unfortunately nothing much happened for the past several months. I was hasty in talking about my work, and was far far away from getting it completed to my satiafaction. After quite a few days of soul searching, and several rounds of re-writing, I am ready to re- send the draft of my first book to publishers. Over the next few weeks, I will post about where I am with my writing, how are the publishers reacting to it, and most importantly I would like to know your views about the book.

I know I have not answered the obvoius questions like what is the book about, what is the genre, etc..Not even the title! More on that to follow.