An Agent Requested My Manuscript. Now What?

One of the questions writers often ask me, especially at writers conferences or after they’ve done a pitch slam, is:

 “I’ve gotten a request for a manuscript, but I’m not quite sure if my manuscript is a hundred percent ready, because it either needs a content edit or a copy edit. What should I do?”

This is a great question, and this is my response:

When an agent requests your manuscript at a conference, keep in mind what’s happening from the agent’s point of view.

This agent is meeting with probably up to a hundred writers, some of whom he or she has requested pages, and they’re not going to remember every person. At the end of a whirlwind day, the agent may remember a couple of key moments.

This means if he or she requested pages, and you don’t submit those pages to that agent until three months later or a year later, the agent is not going to notice.

First of all, we as writers hold ourselves accountable, right? We’re like, “Oh my gosh, the agent asked for those pages, what am I going to do? I don’t have the pages ready, and they’re expecting them.” We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

Stop, pause, and take a deep breath.

The agent doesn’t remember who you are.

If he or she does, that’s great for you! I hope they reach out and ask for your manuscript. Likely, the agent has talked to a lot of people and forgotten some.

It’s more important that you have a quality product you can stand behind.

A product that makes that agent jump up and down. A product that’s ready to send to the publishing house.

This is the paramount element of this experience: the polished manuscript gets to the agent right away.

If you’re debating between “send now though it’s not quite ready” or “send later when it looks much better,” I always recommend “send later when it looks much better.” Why? Because the chances the agent will reject any given manuscript are always high.

The goal is to give that agent fewer reasons to reject a manuscript. 

I’m glad to be working on the revisions of so many of those manuscripts with members in the Writing Gym. If you’re looking to pitch to agents, and you want to make sure that you have a high quality product, I’d be happy to talk to you about what that looks like for you.

You can put yourself right into my calendar. We can talk about where you are ready to go and how you can get there.

Until next time, happy writing.

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