This last weekend I went to a writers conference. I met new people, hung out with old friends, and learned lots of awesome stuff from great presenters.
I came to one conclusion this weekend that I'm actually surprised not to have seen elsewhere on the internet. It's about pitch appointments with agents and editors. Ready for this?
Even if they ask for pages, pitching to agents at a conference doesn't really increase your chance of landing representation. I HAVE heard a few writers say that they've never heard any stories of writers getting their agents as a result of their pitch appointment, but that's not what I'm talking about.
What I'm saying here is that at that appointment, you're pitching an IDEA. Sure, you have a complete book that contains that idea, but in ten minutes, it's impossible to sell a full manuscript. You're just not going to do it.
Getting their attention is still key, though. If you have trouble with queries (as I tend to), a pitch appointment is a great way to get them to notice your idea. Because in a query, you're still pitching your idea.
Once you have their attention, that's where it's all "business as usual." They will be judging your work on the quality of the writing. If they request pages from a query, pitch appointment, or because you pulled them out of a burning building, the decision will ALWAYS be based off of your writing. I know this from experience. Every time I've pitched an agent at a conference, they've asked for pages. But that last project (NOT the one I'm pitching now) wasn't ready for publication.
I haven't gotten enough insider response to say whether or not my current book is ready, but I am sending out pages soon. I'm confident in the story I've written. Excited about the idea, the prose, the opportunities!
Now that you've gotten to the end of this post, don't think that I'm saying ideas don't matter. A really bad idea is going to be a tough sell. It sets up roadblocks simply by existing. Just don't oversell the good idea. Let the writing do that.
Don't undersell it, either.