I like the new contest. Very interesting. So here is my first shot, and yes, this is a real question. 🙂
What is the benefit to submitting a query letter before actually writing the book?
Thanks for the blog. I love it. 🙂
If you are writing non-fiction, you do not need to complete the work before querying. All you need is well expressed compelling reasons that speak to the need for a book on your topic, a well developed outline (chapter by chapter breakdown and synopsis), the first couple of chapters, and probably some credentials. But you need to be prepared to finish the book very quickly after acceptance–within a few months, if not sooner. Some non-fiction is accepted because of its timeliness and if it takes 6 months or longer for you to finish it, it may not be timely anymore.
If you’re writing fiction, you ABSOLUTELY have to have a finished work before you query. An editor expects to see the finished manuscript immediately upon request. Also, many stories change as you write them. You think it’s going to go one way, and then the characters develop minds of their own and take it another way. It could very easily become a different book from what was described in your query.