I heard somebody today say they'd NEVER write a novel without a contract, and never have. Not even as a beginner (this person has sold dozens of novels). But I know a number of people who have. Have you written a novel on spec? Glad you did it? Regret it? 


Just curious.







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Ha! That's funny--you really have a sense of the market. He was, in fact, a screen writer. 


Me? I'm shooting in the dark. Bam! Bam Bam! 


All the Best,



I've never done that. In fact, I was recently put out because after having published eight novels in a series, all to excellent reviews, my agent said she couldn't offer the ninth (in progress) without a finished ms. Go figure!
That's awesome!
I'll venture that 99.9% of all novels are written on spec.
Well, in theory, if the publisher is pleased, your editor will start pressuring for the next novel, sight unsee and with a short deadline attached.  I'm not fond of rush jobs, but a large percentage of mysteries are probably written that way.
Right, but for every published novelist there are at least a thousand novelists who aren't, and they all write on spec.
Yes, the numbers must be amazing. I'm having a bit of overload from looking at Kindle Boards.  Are there any people left ho don't write novels?

The only thing worse than writing against a deadline is writing on spec. 


Note to I.J.--my mother-in-law just got back from a lengthy trip to Japan and is now a fan of your series.  She loves them!

Oh, thanks, Jon.  And thank your mom-in-law from me.  She's a woman of exquisite taste and clearly a world traveler.
P.S.  It's good to see you back!

This depends a  lot on where people are coming from.  For someone who worked as a writer in newspapers or magazines - journalism, in other words, such a being is way more likely to "never write a novel without a contract" because by the time they have the guts or whatever else they needed to write the novel they already know editors and how to work in the industry.


Not everyone is like that.  I wrote my first novel while an undergraduate.  I did it to find out whether or not I could write a decent novel, as I had been an avid reader and believed in myself.  I wrote pretty much the entire first draft sitting less than 5 feet from my jealous, moody boyfriend - who I later married, while he wanted to be alone without throwing me out of the shoebox we shared.  After I did that, and edited it I intended to submit it but by then that same boyfriend who had become my husband told me he wanted a divorce and all H broke loose in my personal life and one casualty of the H was that novel and my professional career as an author was painfully delayed....all the way until...in 2006 I finally wrote my 2nd novel, which will probably officially be considered my first, or else the first one is yet to come, but in 2011, the one I wrote in 2006 was finally picked up by a real but I think new and small or else big but only in India publishing company called Alethia.


That's all I can tell you and still be referring to personal experience.

Out of my 46 published novels, I think 3 were written on spec. My agent is out right now with another one. I like to have a check in my hands before I write (or a contract, at least--often the first check doesn't show up until it's time to deliver the book). But even for a working writer with a long track record, these days many publishers want to see the finished ms before they'll make an offer. And even then, it's getting tougher to get the offer, and when the offers come they're often smaller than they used to be. It's tough out there for a writer.


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