Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Question: What to pitch at a writing conference

I am attending a conference in March during which I will have the opportunity to have one-on-one critique sessions with a few literary agents. I have to submit the first 40 pages of my manuscript by sometime in February in order to participate in the one-on-ones. Right now, I'm about 30 K words into the first draft of my 3rd novel, and I would really like some professional input on this particular WIP. The problem is, even though I'm sure I can get the first 40 pages in pretty good shape on time, I don't think I'll be ready to pitch the entire novel by March. I do have another completed novel that I can pitch.

My question is, is it a mistake to submit the first 40 pages of my incomplete WIP for critique? I really do want the critique, but I know that sometimes agents ask to read the complete manuscript after these critique sessions. Would it be wiser to submit the first 40 of my completed novel so that I can pitch it if they like it? Thanks for your help!

This answer is NOT across-the-board, industry standard. It's MY answer. When I am Queen of the Known Universe it will be the universal answer. Until then it's just what everyone should do, not what everyone actually does.

I think you should discuss your very best work. I hope you learned a lot by writing and finishing that first completed novel.  I further hope that you are applying what you learned to the next novel, the WIP.

Therefore, if you were meeting with me, I'd want to know about the WIP.

Of course, I hate hearing about books that aren't finished because if I fall in love with them, they're not ready and I have to wait. I may have grumbled about not querying until the novel is done in N+1 places on this blog previously in fact.

But this isn't querying. This is an opportunity to have pages critiqued and actual feedback from the person who will be looking at your query and then hopefully, your novel. That trumps having the novel ready because if you've got problems in those first pages, it won't help if the novel is done, cause I won't be reading that far.

When you go to this meeting make SURE you take the first couple pages of your other, finished novel.  Don't offer them to the agent. Just Be Ready in case s/he asks.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh dear Queen of the Universe, a gastronomic observation regarding WIP/pitch critique.

On the left side of the agent's table, a nice query...meat and tasty gravy completed novel.

On the right, mouth watering appetizers of WIP pitch.

Is there a place setting in the middle...not query, not pitch but a place where the cook offers the agent a sample of what's on the stove before the meal is done?

I love when someone, other than me, sticks there finger in the sauce, how else am I to know if the crowd will like it?

Off to cook breakfast, I'm hungry now.

Anonymous said...

I had this happen to me, and as Janet said, it really depends on the kind of conference, the agent, etc.

I pitched an unfinished novel at a conference I attended in July. I thought it would be finished by then, but I'd decided to completely revamp it, so it wasn't. I pitched it to an agent, and made sure to tell her first thing that it was in progress. She said that whenever it was done, she wanted to see the full. But she also made sure to tell me not to send it before it was ready.

I also submitted the first 10 pages to two other agents for critique. They had concerns (as I'd expected, which I also addressed in the revision process), but also indicated interest in seeing it when it was done (though, I will say, not an offer to submit without a query like the agent I pitched to).

If it's being critiqued, it's implied there's room for improvement. Work as hard as you can on it now, and when you sit down with the agent, be prepared to be told you'll still have some work to do.

Good luck!

french sojourn said...

Sort of the same subject. I have put off submitting a query for so *&(@##$-ing long even though I thought I was....just...there. Not even close.

My 3rd WIP is...a blast (at 45K it's half done and charted out.)...but my second WIP while I love it, requires serious fine tuning. It's complete at 91K and just needs re-drafts and comments from my beta's.

My beg? My writing has improved exponentially from just three years ago...Had I queried the query would have been better than the m/s. I gladly decided to wait and give the story the voice it deserves.

Oh..and I got to that from reading the sharks archives and this blog...Thanks Janet Reid.

little off subject?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my question, Janet. You rock!