Once upon a time, there was a writer who desperately wanted to write a blockbusting commercial fiction piece of work that would make everyone stand up and shout. He even started writing it! woot! Then he decided to go to a conference and promote it via an agent/author sit-down. Want to know what happened? Check it out.
What happens when you try to pitch a book before it is even finished?
Mr-I-Am-Writing-A-Book went to a writer’s con and signed up to sit down with an agent to talk about his work. Pitch it to her. Her response? You are wasting my time. Even though I am here, and have to do this with authors, I usually reserve my time with someone who has a finished product, has researched what I am looking for, and is totally prepared. But, whatev. Be forewarned, my answer is likely a big fat NO.
Why did the agent say no? Well, if you have to ask, you need this blog post more than he did. Answer: An agent cannot sell an unfinished novel from a first time novelist. I mean, come on. Editors would laugh them right out of their office.
Listen, the last bit of a book, yanno, the END–it’s the hardest part to write for even the best of us sometimes. And when you are a first-timer, you might find it a jungle and you don’t have any mosquito spray. And let’s don’t forget the fact that this work that Mr-I-Am-Writing-A-Book tried to pitch is what we call a first draft. A FIRST DRAFT is not ready for prime time. It’s not even ready for the mid-day soaps. It’s the infomercial on an off-channel at 2 AM.
And let’s don’t forget that what you are in the middle of writing right now might be a timely piece, but by the time you finish it, edit it, and polish it, that hot item will be cold tuna. Believe me, if you think it is what is selling right now, by the time you are finished with it and sending it around, it will be old news.
It’s okay to go to a con and learn about writing, about meeting agents/editors. Even plan on sitting in on some panels they host. But please, save yourself some trouble and don’t try to pitch an unfinished novel to them. Don’t waste their time and yours.