I’ve decided that I will sell my fourth book after I’ve finished writing it, rather than from a partial. I sold the Magic or Madness trilogy from an outline and the first three chapters of the first book. That is, I sold the idea of three books and then had to turn around and write them to pretty tight deadlines. Now I want to try writing one at my own pace and not try to sell it until it’s as good as I can get it.
I’ve done this before. My very first novel was written that way. I had a lot of fun writing it and I’m proud of it, too. But it hasn’t sold. That’s the huge risk, of course. Who’s to say that a novel of mine that hasn’t been sold from a sexy proposal will sell at all?
Having a contract— even though it comes with a big ole scary deadline—is comforting. You have proof that a publisher wants your work. You’re not floating in space hoping that one day you’ll sell a book again. You’re not thinking, I am contractless does that mean I am no longer a professional writer?
There are the economic factors, too. I’m halfway through the first draft of the great Australian feminist YA Elvis monkey-knife fighting mangosteen cricket fairy book. If I sell it from a proposal and the first few chapters now I’ll get money a lot sooner than if I wait until I’ve finished it. Bills do have to be paid . . .
Here’s my question: Do you prefer selling books before they’re finished or from an outline? In an idea world where money wasn’t a question which would you rather do?
And for those non-pros: How do you feel about the books you love being written to deadline? Do you think much about the writerly means of production?