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Prickly Pear
05-19-2007, 03:26 AM
Hi everyone. I've been lurking for a while now and AW has been really helpful to my submission process. Recently, however, I've run into a problem I've never seen discussed:

My query and my first three chapters have gotten a lot of interest in my first round of agents, and I've gotten a couple of helpful rejections on my full. A recent chat with an agent opened my eyes to some major holes in my manuscript. I've been making a lot of notes, and am excited to make revisions. After some time away from it, I can totally see where the manuscript is lacking, and where this agent was coming from. I anticipate the changes will take me a couple of months at the very least.

Today I got another request off the partial. I don't know how to respond. I don't want to sound unprofessional. I'm thinking I should simply explain the situation and be super-apologetic. . . I know it might be pretty annoying to this agent, but it seems a better option than either A) ignoring the request until my manuscript is ready or B) sending a manuscript that I (now) know isn't ready.

Is this the best way to go? Any advice?

Thanks!

Just Me 2021
05-19-2007, 05:18 AM
I would tell the agent you'll send the manuscript (assuming s/he wants a hard copy), then hole up in a cave and revise my ass off and do nothing else until it's done, then send it back out.

Most agents won't notice that it took you a couple days to pop it in the mail and you can use this deadline as motivation to get those revisions done promptly. You can relive college and pull some all-nighters this weekend. Kind of fun.

Will Lavender
05-19-2007, 05:41 AM
Don't ignore the agent.

Send the partial. You never know: the agent may recognize the problem but be willing to represent you anyway. Some agents do a ton of revision. Mine did. There were problems with my manuscript and she took me on anyway; we spent a ton of time working on the kinks before it was ever sent to publishers.

Carmy
05-20-2007, 09:25 AM
I agree with Will. Send the partial.

Never forget what the first agent gave you is just one person's opinion. The second agent may have different suggestions or may just accept the manuscript as is with minor changes. After all, it doesn't sound as if the first agent asked you to resubmit.

ORION
05-21-2007, 01:36 AM
I have a different opinion.
If you truly believe that the manuscript needs to be improved then start at it. If the partial is only 20 or 50 pages you might re work that -- send and then begin revising the rest. Your dilemma is that you think there is a time line. Many times there is not. After the Maui writers conference I took six months to send partials.
Miss Snark does address this and she adds one caveat: Do the revising with dispatch and don't fool around. Agents can lose interest.

Prickly Pear
05-21-2007, 02:37 AM
Thanks for your replies!

As I read your advice, I realize I didn't describe the situation clearly enough.

After some personal responses from a few (three) agents who read the full (including an agent who spoke to me on the phone and offered to "look at it again"), I've decided to return to my manuscript and make some revisions. Most of the feedback I got was pretty consistent, and I agree that there are specific elements that still need work. I'm not making revisions based solely on one agent's opinion or with any false sense of security that the agent who phoned will necessarily want to represent the revised version. I want to make the revisions because they make sense to me, and because, frankly, I'm no longer satisfied with the manuscript. Parts of it are just plain dopey. I wish I had this kind of clarity about it before I started querying, but hindsight is 20/20. The agent-response wait gave me the time and perspective to see it.

I stopped querying weeks ago. This other agent I'm concerned about asked for the partial quite a while ago, read it, and is now asking for the full. I don't want to send it because I've already gotten into "major revision" mode and don't want to waste anyone else's time with the old version.

If she were asking me to post the manuscript, I'd probably send it when it was ready with an apologetic note. But since this agent's asking me to email the full, there's really no excuse for delay.

Would it be totally out of the question to respond with a brief explanation and an offer to send the full in a few weeks? I realize that this will make me look pretty unprofessional, but isn't it also unprofessional to keep sending out a manuscript that you know isn't ready? Which is the lesser of the two evils?

Prickly Pear
05-21-2007, 02:50 AM
I should mention that the revisions I plan to do would not affect the opening chapters that this agent already read.

ORION
05-21-2007, 06:32 PM
This does clarify things Prickly. I was a a vaguely similar dilemma (querying after I saw some editing I needed to do) The major problem is that you do not want to give the impression of "ditzyness."
I emailed back saying that I was just in the process of finalizing another edit and would be sending the manuscript electronically as soon as I was finished. Now I will emphasize that although you feel like there is hurry because it has been requested via email that is not really the case.
It is far far better to delay and send your best work than think that speed is valued above editing. The thing the agent needs to hear is that you are sending the manuscript to him (or her) as SOON as it is ready.
Now you DO need to finish with dispatch (weeks rather than months). I will also tell you that in each situation I was NEVER convinced my manuscript was finished. That just doesn't happen! (Sorry!!!) :)

Dollywagon
05-21-2007, 06:46 PM
Just out of interest, is it possible that the agent may think Prickly has queried on an unfinished ms?
Sorry to throw something else into the mix but it was my first thought - Although I do think Orion's advice is the best way to go.

ORION
05-21-2007, 07:59 PM
That is always the danger but I will interject the following (from conversations with both my agent and editor). Agents are so very busy that they do not wonder and agonize about their requests for fulls and partials -- They wait to focus on them when they arrive. They rarely sit by their inbox waiting for requested fulls to arrive.
Miss Snark did mention waiting a year for a revised full but I am convinced that is the exception.
I must add that obviously your premise must be intriguing to said agent.
Quickly do your revisions and then send it off is my advice.
Good luck!