Dear Miss Snark,
Here is my situation: in graduate school, I told a prof about my writing (my degree was not an MFA). He mentioned that he happened to be friends with a certain well-known literary agent--when he told me her name, I almost fell off my chair. He also told me to give him my novel as soon as it was ready and he'd show it to her.
Fast forward. I have spent the past two years in Europe, living and working and writing my novel. Now it is almost ready. The prof is willing to hand it over to his agent friend without having read it himself. So...how will she feel about this? Is she going to be annoyed and just toss it aside since it came from a friend who isn't in publishing, and since she is also super busy and doesn't accept unsolicited work anyway (at least according to her website)? And how should I just give my whole novel to my prof to hand over? Should I include a pitch even though he says to "just give me the whole thing"? Should I bother giving it to him to show her at all, or is this all very unprofessional and rude? (I confess, his promise to show it to her gave me the last bit of confidence I needed to move to Europe and write this book). Would you yourself bother looking at a novel given to you by a friend, and if so, would you have less patience with such a situation than if you had asked to see the novel?
He's giving his agent "friend" a novel he hasn't read? I assure you, he's not really good friends with her or he'd know to not ever do that. However, never miss a chance to let your stuff arrive with a warmer introduction than the slush pile. You don't need to send the whole novel; you can just send a cover letter and the first chapter. If the agent likes it, she'll get back to you. You might tuck an SASE in for good luck.
I read everything my friends send me. Mostly though my friends are savvy enough to just lob an email over the back fence saying "I gave so and so your name cause he's got a great novel".