Monday, August 24, 2009
When do I shove it out of the nest??
Hey, folks. My timer on this Egg of a manuscript is almost up. I'm sending it out (supposedly come hell or high water) by Sept. 16. I've only got one more chapter to make small revisions on; then revise my Intro (again, not much to do); oh, and I need to write some semblance of a conclusion.
But *OH!* the wringing of hands! The gnashing of teeth! Just when I'm coming to the end, I'm balking!
So, I need to pose a question to the interwebs (and Notorious, Squadrato, Dr. Cleveland, Heu Mihi, Dr. Virago, and all others who have submitted book manuscripts and even had them published, this is a shout out to ya'll in particular!): at what point is it *ready* to send out?
Now, this might seem like a completely ridiculous question - how the hell do you guys know when my stuff's cooked enough? However, something tells me that at the heart of that subjective query is a seed of objectivity. This is because I think we all tinker with our work and resist sending it out "too early" - for some, that threshold is farther away, for some it's much closer. But it's there. I'm familiar with the "okay to send out" threshold with articles, but I'm a book manuscript virgin and I'm nervous. This means more to me, there's more at stake.
I could spend another 3-6 months polishing this sucker, making all the transitions as smooth as glass, clearing up every possible awkward phrase and point, having countless friends and colleagues read drafts. But I'm not sure it would be fundamentally a better manuscript. It would be spit-shined to the gills, but not substantively better, I think. I feel like, as it stands now, it's clear, well written (I'm sure that some sections are better written than others), and it's an interesting critical intervention. It's spellchecked and revised - there are no unconnected fragments of ideas or random "insert discussion of X here" left floating around. I feel like it's pretty solid, if a little squishy around the edges in places. But is this how all first submissions are? Or are they all as absolutely perfect as they can get?
Given my total intellectual stasis at the moment, I wanted to ask what you thought about when a manuscript is ready to be sent to a publisher. Any and all thoughts are appreciated. I'm sending this to a publisher who's already expressed a lot of interest and will, I think, send it to a sympathetic reader - i.e., someone interested in finding out how it can be an even better book rather than looking for reasons to dump it. And it's only going to one reader to start.
Help me, Obi Wan...