In the competitive world of publishing, especially during this economic crunch where less books will roll out in ink, you want to present your best stuff, not your first draft, not your half-written draft. And because you can't be objective about your own work, you will need to find some reviewers who can give you deep critiques, not just looking for grammatical booboos but also for solid beginnings to each chapter, hooky endings, a good amount of conflict, inconsistencies, plot holes, overused crutch words or turns of phrase, pertinent dialogue, good flow and rhythm, etc. Your editing phase should not be just an effort to find your missing commas, it should be about examining the whole structure and individual parts, then polishing your work and bringing it to a plane of excellence so that it can stand out like a glorious, cut jewel in a land full of rocks.
The biggest problem with rushing out of the gate too fast, is if you query agents with sub-par work, polishing as you go, and garner enough rejections to wallpaper your bathroom, then you will have no one to query but the dregs in the bottom of your barrel when your work is pristine. Once you query an agent with a particular work and get a NO, that's it; you can score him or her off you list. Even worse, if you've been rejected, some agencies don't even like you to query other agents in their employ, so not only have you missed out on one agent but potentially many.
I know one overly eager writer who has queried many agents but is still tweaking her first chapters, and by tweaking I mean writing completely different scenes, and trying to adapt her book to YA. I have no clue why anyone would query when they haven't even deemed their work done but she has. One of her problems was she had too many reviewers commenting on her work and she got frazzled by the conflicting advice.
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With critique, you must take everything with a grain of salt. If many people are saying the same thing, it's time to listen and consider a change. But if one person is saying this and another saying that, go with your gut, go with what works best for the story and trust in your vision.
* * *So, this writer, who has a wicked fab concept and a stellar writing ability to weave good characters with intriguing complexity BUT holds a slightly frayed piece at present, has burned bridges to success. Who will she query when her book finally extends beyond being potentially good to just plain good? Anyone? Anyone? Crickets are chirping.
Don't make that mistake. Make sure your work is complete, good, polished and gripping. Don't take another step until it is. Just don't.
~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.