Submitting a Partial

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 04 2010

An agent has just requested a partial of my manuscript, and I’m struggling to find any information (or only finding contradictory info) about how to submit this, and a full ms if she requests one.

There’s loads on various blogs about the nitty gritty details of querying, but that’s where it seems to stop. Could you go through the details of submitting a partial, like:
What do I put in my cover email, since I’m sending the chapters within a few days of her requesting them?
What do I put on the coverpage of the partial?
What format should the info in the header take?

I’m guessing the answers would apply to submitting full manuscripts, too. I know the most important things are the story and the way it’s written, but I want to present myself in the most professional way possible.

I believe I have done posts on this and I know there’s information on the FAQ page of our Web site, but I’ll run through it anyway since it wasn’t easy to find.

When sending along a requested partial the first thing you should do is see if the agent has included any guidelines in her request and then check her agency’s web site to make sure she doesn’t have guidelines there. Do NOT email back to ask how she wants it sent or what format she prefers. If she doesn’t have specific guidelines you can safely assume these will work.

Your cover letter should match your query. In other words, include the blurb you included with your query, the title, the word count, and your author bio. In fact, the only thing I would alter from your original query is to open with a statement that says something along the lines of, “As per your request.”

Since most agents are reading on ereaders these days I find it helpful, and I do know other agents agree with me, to have a copy of the cover letter submitted with the attached partial. Therefore I would simply use the exact same letter you are using in the body of the email and make it the first page of your partial. That way when it’s opened on the ereader the agent can have a refresher when she gets to it.

The attached partial should include, in this order: the cover letter; a title page that includes your name, address, phone number, and email address; the requested sample chapters (always the first three chapters of your book); and then the requested synopsis. Remember, your goal is to get the agent to read your chapters, so give them to her first.

The header should simply include your title, your name (or at least last name), and email address or phone number (or both if you prefer).

Hope that helps.


18 responses to “Submitting a Partial”

  1. Avatar Kimber An says:

    Don't worry if this is your first time sending out a partial. It's like changing diapers. Scary at first, but after a while you can do them in your sleep. And perfectly too. I mean, would you risk having a diaper explode on you in the middle of the night?

  2. Avatar Wendy Marcus says:

    Thanks for the tip on attaching the synopsis last to get the agent/editor to read the first three chapters!

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    what about partial submissions ie., to publishers? am curious how that works

  4. Avatar Mira says:

    This is helpful. I didn't realize the writer should re-send the query with the partial. I would have assumed just a quick, per your request, would be all standard.

    So, that's good to know. And I agree with Wendy – putting the synopsis last is a good tip.


  5. Avatar Silver James says:

    Thanks so much for the tip about putting your email address and/or phone number in the header. I would never have thought of doing so but it makes so much sense.

  6. I'm curious, if sending via email is should the document itself be Word compatible or PDF? And if it is Word compatible, should it be "read only" or otherwise locked?

    I ask not becuase I'm concerned that an agent or editor is going to get SO excited about my submission that they are going to drop everything right then and there to dive in (lol! how fantastic would that be though?), but rather from the perspective of having accidently opening a doc and wreaked unintentional havoc with a few accidental keystrokes.

    Just curious.

  7. Thanks for the great advice! I did not know to include a copy of the query letter on the first page or as the body of the email either. I thought the way Mira said, just a quick "per your request" sort of message would suffice!

  8. Avatar Ez says:

    This is probably insanely ignorant of me, but when you say "attach", do you mean quite literally an attachment? Or pasted into the body of the email?

  9. Interesting. Thanks for this rundown. I'm saving it to possibly link to in a future post of mine. (I blog for health-care providers who write.)

  10. Avatar Anonymous says:

    This may seem trivial, but I've wondered this for a while, Jessica: if we put our cover letter as the first page of the requested material (for Kindles and e-readers), then the actual front page of the manuscript will have headers and page numbers on it, which it shoudn't have. The front page becomes the second page of the document with the headers and page numbers. Doesn't that look unprofessional? When snail-mailing this is no problem, but I always put my new cover letter and copied query in the email, and then the attachment.

  11. Avatar Amber says:

    I've heard about sending the query again, and synopsis in the back (I think from you), so I've been doing that for a while.

    My question: I recenltly rec'd a Email partial request which asked me to put everything in a Word doc attachment and snail mail it. I assume it was a typo… When I checked the website guidelines, it sounded like they prefered partials snailed, so that's what I did.

    I didn't want to reply and ask, but in cases like this, would it be apropriate to email and ask? Or did I do right by just picking one way?


  12. Avatar Anonymous says:

    This is a repeat question, but hopefully will be answered:

    All of this is an ATTACHMENT, correct? We get permission to send as an attachment at this point I'm guessing. I would hate to get it flushed.

    And, a PDF works most universally, yes? no?

  13. Avatar Lucy says:

    Thanks for the break-down on this, Jessica!


  14. Avatar clindsay says:

    I agree with Jessica. When I request fulls ( I no longer bother with partials – just an extra step ) I ask that they be formatted as an rtf file, in Times New Roman, with the query letter cut and pasted into the beginning of the manuscript.

    E-readers strip out page numbers and headers anyway so there's no problem there.

  15. Avatar Anonymous says:

    thanks for explaining that, Colleen!

  16. Avatar Jon Paul says:

    Thanks for the overview. I included this post in my Friday Link Love roundup.


  17. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Roughly what word count would 3 chapters be- my book isn't broken into chapters…

  18. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Funny. I asked nearly the exact same question only a few weeks ago, but got chewed out by an agent for even bothering to ask said question and was accused of wasting her time with such a question, despite the blog being the sole purpose to answer questions asked by struggling authors, whether they be valid or deemed ridiculous. Hmm.

    And on top of that, I received the exact opposite of information, as far as emailing back to ask how the agent wants the work. There may be info out there for us aspiring authors, but the poster is right, as much good info is listed, misleading info is listed on various sites as well. Top notch agents and obscure. I have been researching for two years now, but that doesn’t mean I know everything, nor should it. Anyway, thanks for the info.