Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Sending agent part of an unfinished manuscript

by Rob - September 29th, 2008.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

An email I received just now, seeking advice:

I have contacted an agenency in New York that likes to see the first five pages of a manuscript first before anything. Would it be acceptable, or fair to them rather, to send the first five pages even though the whole thing is not finished. If they liked it, it would give me a little more encouragment to keep going with it.

My response:

Yes, it would be unfair — and it would be a waste. If they like it RIGHT NOW, and are enthusiastic about seeing it RIGHT NOW, then your best career move is to send the rest as soon as they ask for it. Six weeks, six months, or six years from now that agent may no longer be taking on new clients, whatever market trend the agent might have perceived your work as fitting into may have passed, and so on. You can’t grouse later on, “But you SAID you wanted to see it!” If you don’t have a finished manuscript ready to go to market, you and an agent have no business to do together, and it isn’t fair for you to take time out of his or her day.

Also, your encouragement must be internal to you: you need to want this so badly that you can’t STOP writing; if you think you will be coddled every step of the way by people patting you on the head every time you write a few pages, you are sorely mistaken.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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