conference critiques

Must Manuscripts Be Done for Agent Conference Critiques?

Dear Editor…

I submitted a query, synopsis, and first 5 pages of my YA novel to be critiqued at a conference. I wasn’t thinking anyone would ask for it—just wanted to see if I was on track with the revisions my freelance editor suggested. I must be, because the agent asked for the full. It’s not done. Do I fudge—say I sent it to the freelancer and am in the process of revising…it won’t be ready until the new year? Or admit I haven’t written the whole thing? I hate to lie, but I’ve heard admitting you haven’t written whole thing is the kiss of death. Will agents even wait that long for something?

I’d appreciate your advice,
Happy But Worried

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