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ScribeLady
05-08-2011, 11:39 PM
How long is it acceptable to wait before forwarding a requested manuscript to an agent?

I received a request for a full over the weekend, but want to do some additional polishing before sending it along. While I'm experiencing pressure to send it right away, I really want to give myself some extra time - a few extra days. Would that be problematic?


Opinions would be appreciated.

Cyia
05-08-2011, 11:55 PM
The MS should be completely polished before you query; agents expect this. There's no reason not to send the MS within 48 hours.

firedrake
05-09-2011, 12:00 AM
What Cyia said.

I would never dream of querying a MS unless it was the best I could make it. But that's just me.

Firedrake, less than diplomatic.

Theo81
05-09-2011, 12:37 AM
I'd say, to be professional, within a week. It is better to hold off a day or two, rather than send a substandard MS. If the agent has a hissy fit at you (which they won't, because they are nice people, apart from the whole rejection malarky), then that is their problem.

If you feel it warrents it, apologise for the delay - but only if it does. Wednesday is not a long time in the future, for instance. They might take 6 months to read this, a few days now shouldn't make any difference.

JSSchley
05-09-2011, 12:39 AM
The flipside, though, is that the world is not going to crash and burn if you don't whip it straight back. You won't be the first to take a couple of days, and I can promise you the agent has better things to do than sit around with a stopwatch deciding your fate based on the time you sent the mss. If the book is good, the book is good, and sending it a couple days late isn't going to change his/her opinion of you that much.

The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between--yes, you really should have had the ms totally ready to go before you even sent a single query. At the same time it's not going to be the end of the world if you send it on say, Wednesday. People do that all the time with no substantially higher rejection rates. Consider this a lesson learned, finish your spit-shine as fast as you can, and be ready with that shiny ms. for the next full request.

ScribeLady
05-09-2011, 12:47 AM
I appreciate everyone's input.

Actually, I've put this novel through a number of edits, each time believing that would be the last. Then, with the passage of time, I find new things I want to change. Nothing substantive, mind you. But little glitches.

Scribelady

scope
05-09-2011, 12:47 AM
Sure you should have had your manuscript ready to go before you sent out a query, but taking a couple of days to review it and send is fine. A couple of weeks or more is not okay.

Whimsigirl
05-09-2011, 12:53 AM
I totally understand how you feel. Always good to go over your ms before sending out a full. The sooner you send it the better so the agent has you fresh in her/his mind, and personally I wouldn't wait longer than a week.

Jamesaritchie
05-09-2011, 01:22 AM
As long as you think it will take. The agent is not sitting there with nothing to do, impatiently waiting, wondering why in hell you haven't sent it along.

Believe me, if the agent is worth a damn, she's so busy she forgot all about your manuscript six minutes after requesting it. She wants it right, not fast.

Figure out how long it will take, sent along an e-mail letting the agent know when she should receive it, and then get busy.

JSSchley
05-09-2011, 01:45 AM
I appreciate everyone's input.

Actually, I've put this novel through a number of edits, each time believing that would be the last. Then, with the passage of time, I find new things I want to change. Nothing substantive, mind you. But little glitches.

Scribelady

Reading this, I wonder if this may also be an issue of letting go. Maya Angelou was once quoted saying that she frequently wishes she could stop the presses so that she can go back and rewrite single paragraphs that now, to her, sound terrible. If you're a writer worth your salt at all, no full length manuscript you write will ever seem 100% perfect to you, especially after you've left it awhile.

At some point, you've got to let the manuscript go, little glitches and all. Get the draft to the point where you feel it's shiny, then shove it into a file folder six files deep in the hierarchy on a separate partitioned drive where you won't be tempted to click on it. Until you get representation for it, don't look at it again. (Or when you get really good feedback on a full and want to stop querying to revise. But I hesitate to suggest that because when a writer is having trouble stopping tweaking, every agent's minor suggestion seems like "really good feedback on a full")

While that ms is going out, start work on the next one.

Belle_91
05-09-2011, 02:21 AM
Reading this, I wonder if this may also be an issue of letting go. Maya Angelou was once quoted saying that she frequently wishes she could stop the presses so that she can go back and rewrite single paragraphs that now, to her, sound terrible. If you're a writer worth your salt at all, no full length manuscript you write will ever seem 100% perfect to you, especially after you've left it awhile.

At some point, you've got to let the manuscript go, little glitches and all. Get the draft to the point where you feel it's shiny, then shove it into a file folder six files deep in the hierarchy on a separate partitioned drive where you won't be tempted to click on it. Until you get representation for it, don't look at it again. (Or when you get really good feedback on a full and want to stop querying to revise. But I hesitate to suggest that because when a writer is having trouble stopping tweaking, every agent's minor suggestion seems like "really good feedback on a full")

While that ms is going out, start work on the next one.

My high school teacher said he went to visit Charles Dicken's house and they had one of his published books on display that Charles owned. Apparently, in the margins, there were his edits even though it had already been published and would go on to become timeless.

So even the greats struggle with this problem. :)

ScribeLady
05-09-2011, 02:48 AM
Whar wonderful, helpful responses!

Similar issues came up with my query -- I'm always improving it -- and the effort is worth it. So far, I've sent out 150 queries. Initially, I received no requests. So I rewrote it and finally received several requests from major agencies for full manuscripts. Rewrote it again, and got this particular agent (a major agency) interested, just as I was about to throw in the towel and take a look at self-publishing.

So it pays to keep working at it, apparently.

In the meantime, I'm wondering - should I e-mail her and let this agent know that I'll send it along on Thursday or Friday? Or leave well enough alone until the MSS is ready?

Best,

ScribeLady

Susan Littlefield
05-09-2011, 06:21 AM
An agent does want our manuscript the best it can be. While it is essential to have your book completed before the query process, it sounds like you've run into some snags. I agree with James- let the agent know when it will be forthcoming and get to work. Have it to her on the date or before that you say you will send it.

I'm excited for you too. Congratulations on the request!

scope
05-09-2011, 08:10 AM
let the agent know when it will be forthcoming and get to work. Have it to her on the date or before that you say you will send it.



Yup.

Old Hack
05-09-2011, 09:52 AM
If you're sending it to her within a week or two, you don't need to bother letting her know there'll be a slight delay. Although you could if you feel it's important.

PinkAmy
05-09-2011, 04:14 PM
Whar wonderful, helpful responses!

Similar issues came up with my query -- I'm always improving it -- and the effort is worth it.

Agree. This is my first MS, I've had a lot to learn.
I had a full out when I got feedback on how to make my MS a LOT better (and I had thought it was polished). I did the rewrite and sent it to the agent who has my full and asked him to read this one instead. Maybe he'll think I'm unprepared and careless, or maybe he'll consider my newer version. Either way, I don't think he would have taken the first version I sent him (even though I thought he would at the time.)
I'd make editing your MS your priority and try to get it done in a week, if possible. Sometimes having a deadline can make you work faster.

stormie
05-09-2011, 04:39 PM
All the above responses are good, but sometimes you just have to let your manuscript go.

Let's put it this way: it's never "finished."

And agents sometimes will ask you to make a few changes anyway, either before signing you on or after.

maestrowork
05-09-2011, 08:08 PM
You will never get it "perfect." Send your best work to the agent within a few days.

Drink a lot of coffee and get to work now. You have 72 hours.

ScribeLady
05-10-2011, 02:41 AM
I've already let her know when to expect it. She's ok with it.

Thanks so much for the enlightened input.

ScribeLady

OpheliaRevived
05-10-2011, 09:08 PM
I second stormie. You should be able to get it a bit more polished within 48 hours, anyway, assuming that's all you do. Call in sick. Send the kids to the baby sitter... whatever you have to do! LOL