Recently, I got a message from a friend. He told me a relative was 30,000 words into a novel and wanted to know how to find an agent.
Now, this is a perfectly legitimate question, but the timing was wrong. No agent or editor will show any interest in a rookie author holding an incomplete manuscript. Why? Wannabe authors have a pretty horrid track record.
Thirty thousand words is about the time a novelist enters what we call the middle muddles. It’s the phase where an author starts to doubt the story. This budding author must demonstrate an ability to push through the middle muddles and finish the novel.
I recently read a statistic (that I could not verify, but it seems about right) stating that only 3% of novels people start are ever finished. There’s a lot of probably won’t this writer has to get past in order to join that 3%.
So I told my friend to come back and ask me again when his relative has a first draft completed. Not only is there plenty of time to form a plan to find an agent during the edit phase, he’ll also have that thing most beginning novelists can’t claim–a complete story. Until then, it’s just a lot of hot air.