You have written that story and sent out your queries to you top editors and agents. Then, you are lucky enough to get a request back for a partial, or even a full manuscript. So now the question comes, how long do you have to get that back to the editor or agent.
I am only speaking for myself here, and I do know editors and agents have a lot of different approaches, but I do believe, that many, would agree. The manuscript goes out immediately. But let me break this down for you to see a couple of different perspectives.
I have been at conferences where an editor or agent says to a writer, after the pitch, just send it to me when you think it is ready. While this sounds VERY accommodating and certainly gives the impression they want to see "the best you have," this also sends the message that they are willing to look, but nothing significant is jumping out at them. I would also add that when we are at conferences, we see a ton of authors, and the odds are we will not remember what we thought about that manuscript. Sending it to us while it is still fresh in our heads, is the best approach.
But what about those email queries? Again, this is an issue about staying in our head. If we just read a project, liked it and wanted to see more, it means that something sounded interesting. Keep that enthusiasm going! Keep us wanting more.
This also demonstrates something beyond the quality of your writing. It shows us that you are professional and ready to go. It shows us that when your editor sends out revisions, you will get those revisions back to them in a timely manner.
You need to also remember that sometimes, we are really looking for a specific type of project, and if your story is meeting just what we want, you have now increased your chance. Delay in sending that project, and you will have likely lost that slot to someone else.
Before you even start the query process, your story needs to be 100% ready to go. The story needs to be finished. The story needs to be cleaned up. You should not be at this point that you just typed THE END and then feel you are going to send it to your critique partners AND THEN revise. This means you are not ready.
Unfortunately, this business is a hurry up and wait business. If we see something we jump on the project. If you are working with editors, you may have a story in months before it is going to press, but if you are ahead of those deadlines, you are demonstrating you can be counted on.
So, the big take away is:
- Send that project immediately after a request
- No excuses
- Show you are professional