What if I did The Bad Thing and queried before my novel was really, really, really ready and am now receiving requests from long-ago queries for the manuscript I’m now revising?
I’ve already flagellated myself with old typewriter ribbons and printouts from Query Shark. But what now? (1) Do I submit the original manuscript, which I fear is less than great? (That seems unwise.) (2) Do I tell interested agents that I’m working on a revision? (That seems annoying.) (3) Do I send the revised manuscript once it’s complete and really, really, really ready—for-reals? (That seems rude to respond so late.)
Barring the invention of a time machine, I can’t go back and undo what I so foolishly did. Which variety of bitter medicine should I take now?
No no, time for CAKE!
Even when I spell it out, you still get it wrong?
First, quit worrying. This happens more than you think, and no one is going to come to your house and confiscate your laptop and pens and forbid you from writing novels or queries ever again. [We save that for people who query fiction novels. ]
Second, the correct answer is 2.
You write back PROMPTLY and thank them for their interest. You say you've continued working on the manuscript and plan to have a revised ms ready to send by X date. X date should be sometime soonish (ie not 2015.)
Then, when it is ready, you send! Do NOT write again asking if the agent wants to see it. They've said they do. SEND. Reply to the email they sent you asking for the full. (That helps them see the email trail)
And when you sell your novel, you will always tell authors coming up behind you that querying too soon is a BAD BAD THING.