Reader Question: Still Editing

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 19 2007

Let’s say you are silly enough to query your ms while you are still editing it, thinking, “oh, it’ll be 3-4 weeks at the soonest to go from query to partial to full, even submitting online.”

Lo and behold, you get a reply from one the same day requesting a full. Oops!

Question: Do you as an agent prefer to be notified that the ms will not be forthcoming immediately but as soon as the editing is done, or are you so busy generally that a month down the road really is nothing to worry about?

Oops is right. No matter how often we preach against it this happens again and again, and no matter how many times I say it drives me crazy, I’ve offered representation to more than one author who has done this.

My first recommendation is to edit carefully and without haste. The biggest mistake an author makes in this situation is worrying more about getting the material to the agent than about making the material the best it should be. It doesn’t do you any good to be fast if the book isn’t any good. And yes, I would let the agent know. She might be sitting there waiting for it and worrying that you’ve already signed with someone else (yes, we worry about this all the time) or afraid you didn’t receive her request. The best thing you can do is let her know that you’re finishing up edits and will have it to her as quickly as possible.


4 responses to “Reader Question: Still Editing”

  1. Avatar Jduncan says:

    Haha! Been there done that. My first completed novel got a same day reply from an agent wanting to see the full off of my query. I was a bit surprised by the request to say the least and was a good month away from being done with the final edit. Fortunately, the agent was busy, as it was approaching the christmas rush, and he was busy with current work so a month or so was no big deal. I felt bad, unprofessional, etc. but it wasn’t a huge issue. Sadly, the project was turned down.

    This brings up a question though. From the timely response to the ms, I know the full wasn’t read completely, which is fine, since I know agents can tell fairly quickly if it’s something they are interested in reading all the way through. I was told I was a talented writer, which made me feel better of course, but why do agents do this, when a partial would more than likely suit the same purpose? Working online, the turn around to request more isn’t much time or effort. Is this a more common occurrence than I’m imagining or do agents request fulls instead of partials fairly often just to avoid doing the second request for material?

  2. Avatar Kimber An says:

    I’m Micro-Polishing with queries out, but that’s something I do over and over a bazillion times before the manuscript goes out to check that every little jot and tittle is perfect. I Micro-Polish for the very last time, but if I get a request you better believe I’m going to Micro-Polish just one very absolute last time. Thankfully, it only takes a few hours.

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    . . . or do agents request fulls instead of partials fairly often just to avoid doing the second request for material?

    Different agents work different ways. Some will request a full from the query letter alone. Some will ask for a partial, then the full. And some will ask for the partial with your query.

  4. Avatar Chumplet says:

    I dusted off an old manuscript and sent a query to an editor on a whim. It had been flogged for over a year, and I figured – just one more time.

    I got a request for a partial the next day. Great! I checked it over, sent it off, and reacquainted myself with the rest of the MS.

    Yikes, a request for a full the next day. I asked for a few days to check it over, and the editor was kind enough to return the partial with her edits.

    I applied her suggestions to the rest of the MS and sent it within a week, but I can’t shake the feeling that I rushed it. No matter how many times I went over it, I wonder if sections were too passive, telling not showing, etc.

    I guess no matter how much you buff a manuscript, you’re bound to leave a few smudges. Hopefully, it will find a home, smudges and all.