On Friday, after a lot of intense internet research regarding Oz lit agencies and publishing a first-time novel, I read a post on the ALAA website that the agency I am very interested in working with is open to unsolicited MS being sent in. I am a published journalist, have 12 000 words of copy for a novel, I have a clear direction of where my novel is going, who my audience is and indeed its marketing capabilities.
So here is the question: is it completely naive, immature, unprofessional and downright primitive of me to send off a submission with only 12 000 words currently sitting in my laptop? My reasoning is I am working 7 days a week, unhindered, on this ms and figure if I receive a response from the agency in the 10 weeks to 3 months it may take for them to go through my query/submission, I will nearly have finished the full ms. What do you think? Am I showing my complete lack of knowledge of how this business works or indeed ''showing a bit of dash'', as an editor of mine once commented.
There are a few things I'd like to address in this answer ...
First, I am always intrigued by authors who say they have only picked one agency they want to submit to - presumably based on the client list, as there's not much else to go on, although the size of the agency is often a determinant ('the bigger, the better' seems to be the most common mantra). But the personality of the agent/s at the agency should actually be the determinant - and you can't know that unless you actually get to the stage of talking to them. One agency may have a client list you want to join, but what if you don't get on with the agent/s there? It's always worth submitting to more than one agency just in case.
Second, from a writing/editorial point of view: it is unwise to submit a novel before you've even finished your first draft. The first draft is never, ever the final - never even close - and there is a real chance that it will do yourself a disservice - I've never taken on a novel based on a first draft, and I wouldn't mind betting your 'dream agency' hasn't either. Even if you know where the novel is going, you will need to redraft.
Third, if you decide to proceed with the submission: you say you have published a book, so that means you're not approaching them as a first-time author - this gives you an advantage over other authors who are submitting. Also, you can send a query and just be honest, say you haven't finished it and ask if they mind that - they'll let you know.