Must Manuscripts Be Done for Agent Conference Critiques?

Dear Happy But Worried…

Save that R.I.P. talk for Halloween tomorrow. Today, celebrate the agent’s confirmation that your W.I.P. indeed has a strong start, that you’ve got a freelance editor who can guide you to a strong finish, and that you’ve got an invitation to submit to that agent as soon as the ms is ready. Those are the points the agent will hear when you tell her the truth. There’s no reason to lie or even fudge. Agents know that material critiqued at conferences is often still in progress. You wouldn’t submit an unfinished project in a regular submission, but conference critiques really are for critiquing as well as networking. Stress to the agent that you’re working with a freelance editor, and outline your timetable. She’ll wait. Your dedication to submitting your best work will impress her—which is yet another reason to celebrate. Normally I’d recommend chocolate for that, but tis the season of candy corn, so think yellow, orange, and white.

Happy writing!
The Editor


  1. Dear Happy but Worried,

    Just thought I’d let you know my own agent experience regarding a WIP. I entered a contest with the first 250 words of my YA fantasy. Being the novice I was, I didn’t realize the contest was for COMPLETED works…found THAT out when the agent requested the first 50 pages and I hadn’t even written the first 25!

    I explained my goof and apologized. The agent was very gracious and understanding.

    Bottom line? The agent loved my 250 words so much she told me to take my time completing my story and send her the manuscript whenever I’m done.

    Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy…

    Good luck with your story!

    Donna L Martin

  2. Happy But Worried – Congrats and yay for you! I think Deborah’s advice is perfect. Agents generally have a backlog of manuscripts to read, so she probably woldn’t get to yours for a while anyway. Tell the truth and let your best writing speak for itself when you finish. Good luck! 🙂

  3. Congrats! So exciting to have your full manuscript asked for. I’ve often wondered about this question myself, so thanks for asking it, and Deborah, once again thanks again for a very clear, concise answer.

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