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An Agent’s Pet Peeve

I haven’t done a pet peeve post in a very long time and I’m not sure I’ve ever really done one that’s client related. Usually agent pet peeves are focused on submissions. However, something has been sitting in my mind for a while, something that really bugs me, but not something that’s happened anytime recently (for any clients who are now freaking out).

I’m often asked what my ideal client is like, but I’m never asked what about a client drives me nuts. Well here it is, it absolutely drives me nuts when I am sent a “rough draft.” I can promise you, editors feel the same way.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling are not my strong suit, it’s something I’ve always been very open about, so sending me a manuscript riddled with such errors means you’re doing yourself a grave injustice. I’m not the one you want to count on to fix those. Most importantly though, it’s a gigantic waste of my time and my editorial skills to receive a manuscript in such poor condition.

Just like you never want to send your editor anything less than your very best work, you don’t want to send your agent anything you wouldn’t send your editor.

When you send me a fresh manuscript you are looking to have me submit it to editors (either to meet contractual obligations or on submission). If it needs a grammar check it is certainly not ready. And, let’s face it, you know nothing you send me is going straight to editors. You’re going to get a revision first, but a revision should beef up and improve the story’s content, the plot and the characterization, it shouldn’t be a copyedit. Wasting my time on a copyedit makes it harder for me to focus on the content and, frankly, isn’t my job.

Let me clarify, very few authors do this, but if you have or if you are, you need to stop now. Everything you submit to your agent and editor needs to go through the same rigorous editorial process your first book did when you were an unagented author on the agent hunt.

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3 comments

  1. I think anything and everything that goes anywhere should be proofed, repeatedly, before sending/printing/publishing. One of my pet peeves as well, and I’m glad I’m not the only one out there.

    Thanks, by the way. Overall, these posts are very informative for writers, whether one is querying or not.

  2. To me, sending out an unedited or proofread manuscript is like going to the store in a robe and slippers. I know some folks do it, but I never could.

  3. Maybe some authors think the hardest work is done when they get an agent? I know I’ve heard authors say they thought they could relax more after signing but discovered that’s anything but the case.

    Interesting to read a ‘what not to do’ as a client post. Thanks, Jessica.

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