I'm working steadily through my inventory of requested full manuscripts and proposals. I was very smugly pleased with myself that I had read and replied to almost everyone by the end of 2013. There were three leftovers, two of which were revised after the initial request.
Revised after the initial request means I requested the manuscript, got it and then the author sent me a new and improved version.
That happens more than you think, and I'm actually ok with that up to a point.
Here's what that point is: when I've read the manuscript.
Sometimes authors have major revision epiphanies while I've got their manuscript here in the reading stack. If they want to revise, I'm very glad to read the very best work the author has to offer. I simply replace the new manuscript with the old, and that's that.
But each manuscript has a number (which is how I keep track of order received, not by date.)
When I read and reply with a "sorry, not for me" sometimes authors revise and want to send the revision back. I usually give it one more shot. One more shot means I read about the same number of pages I read the first time. If it doesn't knock my sox clean off on that second read, well, that's the ball game.
At that point that's two turns on the dance floor, and I want to remind you there are at a minimum ten people waiting in line behind you. (Today there are 27 but that's a bit higher than normal.) People who are just as eager to trip the light fantastic with me. People who've been waiting almost as long as you have.
Time to move on.
What does that mean for you? Querying too soon is a very real problem. It's worse for the writers who have a concept I love and who can string sentences together. Those novels get requests. If the novel isn't ready, oops.
How do you know if your novel is ready? This is where beta readers and crit partners are worth their weight in gold. You need to start connecting with people long before YOUR ms is ready. You don't start by asking someone to crit your work. You start by helping someone else with theirs.
There are a lot of agents out there but the good ones have very very limited reading time. Make sure you're ready for the Big Dance when the music starts to play.
This music of course