A few weeks ago, I was at a writers conference and I pitched to two agents. They both said: sounds interesting, send us the first x number of pages. Which is great - except for one thing.
I've finished a couple of drafts of my novel, but I'm still polishing it. I wouldn't normally have pitched without having it perfect, but I was in the US on holiday and pitched on the off chance because it seemed like a good opportunity to get in front of people.
So here's my dilemma. Do I send the requested pages now, and half-hope they don't get round to reading them until I've finished editing? (Presuming, of course, that they'd want to see more.) Or, do I wait until I'm done, and send the sample then?
I realise these agents probably aren't sitting at their desk thinking: 'where is that nice New Zealand woman's sample?' But I don't want to lose the small impression I may have made either. I'm probably only about one or two months off finishing the whole thing. What's the normal/acceptable time limit for sending off requested pages after a pitch?
(I'm not usually this much of an idiot btw. And I realise that I should have said something in the pitch, but quite frankly I was lucky to remember my name, I was that nervous**.)
Always always always send your best work.
If that means you send an email to the requesting agents, saying pretty much what you said here (I'm still polishing), before you send the pages, then you do that.
You've got ONE shot at an agent's eyeballs with this manuscript. It's better to take the time to polish than send it too soon.
From my perspective, I'd rather wait and then see something I can sell than read something that ISN'T publishable.
I've seen a LOT of novels that were probably one or two revisions away from publishable. I said no to them because I just didn't have time to work with the author on revisions.
How long do you have to get this done? Well, less than a year. Ideally within a month. But, it takes as long as it takes.
I need books to sell, not manuscripts to reject.
**do I get to jump up and down and wave my arms around about the evil that is pitching again?