I'll be attending RWA in July and intend to pitch agents. I've been told more than once not to pitch unless I have a ms polished and ready for sale, but I have a dilemma with that. Here's the situation.
I have a book releasing with a small publisher in June, and two more books completed and in the hopper with the same publisher, scheduled to release at the end of 2015 and early 2016. Since I can point to these three novels with regard to how I've been spending my time, will agents be okay with the fact that the book I'm pitching (contemporary romance, 95-100,000 w) will be incomplete with only a synopsis and five chapters written? (2)
It seems ridiculous to attend RWA and pass up the opportunity to pitch just because of timing. If the conference were in November instead of July, the ms would be complete. I have a track record to prove that I finish what I start. Will that be good enough for most agents, or will the lack of a completed and polished ms be a deterrent? (3)
If a deterrent, can I still schedule to pitch but use the time to ask for feedback on my query letter? (4)
Would that be considered bad form? (I don't want to waste anyone's time.) (1)
Let's take these questions in numerical order.
(1) YOU ARE NOT WASTING MY TIME TALKING TO ME ABOUT YOUR WORK or your query. Like every agent worth having, I make my living from the work you trust me to sell. Even if your query needs work; even if your book does not fit my list, it is NEVER a waste to time to talk to a writer who is serious about his/her career, and may be a potential client (ie REVENUE SOURCE.) And clearly you are in that category (for starters, you're reading this blog)
DO NOT EVER let me hear you talking about wasting my or any agent's time again, or I will get on my broom and fly to your house and bring you a Woodland Creatures Cake....and I'll leave the cake server at HOME.
(2&3) Given your publication history, I think agents will be confident you can finish the book. They can probably tell you if this new one fits in a category they want to consider. They'll probably want you to finish the book but you're right, an unfinished ms in your case is not the same as an unfinished ms from an unpubbed writer. You'll want to have a reasonable estimate of when you'll be finished with the novel (which you do seem to have now.)
RWA is in New York this year so a lot of editors and agents will be there. You'd be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity. Bring your query, bring a list of your published books, and get as much info as you can during your meeting times.
And bring your parasol. It's going to be hot and muggy.