Today’s reader question is from Paul, who says:
I would like an agent’s perspective. My novel has 23 chapters. I have managed to get 10 of the chapters published in various literary magazines as stand-alone stories. Does this help or hurt my chances of finding eventual representation with an agent? Is there an upper limit on the percentage of parts of a novel that should appear in print before it is no longer worth getting the whole published?
Thanks for the question!
In terms of helping or hurting the chances of finding representation, I think it partially depends on where these chapters were published. If part of the novel has been published in larger, nationally recognized magazines and journals, then this is absolutely a boon and would be helpful in securing representation (though I would say that you’re at about 50% of the novel right now, so I probably wouldn’t try to publish any additional chapters while you’re trying to sell the package as a whole to agents.)
If the chapters are published in smaller, niche and/or online journals with less of a reputation for literary fiction, I think it’s probably going to be at best a wash in terms of helping to place the novel with an agent. And in that case, 50% of the novel online would be less appealing, though not necessarily a deal breaker.
To me, it sounds like the best thing to do at this point is to stop selling it piecemeal and focus on seeking representation for the novel, if that’s your ultimate goal for this book. (If you can’t secure a book deal, you can always go back to selling it as shorts later.)
I hope this helps!