The setting: Overworked and Underpaid Editor’s office. The beagle is stretched on the desk, basking in the sunshine. She has already shushed Overworked twice for speaking too loudly and interrupting her beauty nap. In a chair sits a manuscript, blushing furiously and biting the edges of its little corners. Overworked and Underpaid Editor is pacing about the office, wielding her evil red pen like a bloody saber.
Overworked: So, what are you doing here, young missy?
Little Forlorn Manuscript: [she’s so nervous that she’s about to wet her little pages] I-I am the replacement manuscript.
Overworked: But I already have your big brother sitting in the corner. As you can see, I’ve already started reading him.
Little Forlorn Manuscript: [looks to the pile and sees her big brother, who is cursing wildly and trying to pull his pages together] I know. But it was deemed that I was a better replacement. I’m written better and I…
Big Brother: Ah, bite me, you little twerp. You’re nothing but skanky tree shavings!
Little Forlorn Manuscript: …have a stronger opening and better character development.
Overworked: Why did your handlers waste my time in having me read your big brother over there [Overworked casts a glance over at Big Brother Manuscript]…oh for petesakes, Big, get a grip and stop trying to light my office on fire. Geez. [glaring at Little Forlorn Manuscript] I’m halfway through reading your brother, and now you want me to read you? Do you have any idea what a waste of my time this is? Why didn’t your handlers send you in the first place?
Little Forlorn Manuscript: Because, uh, um, I hadn’t been written yet. My handlers took another look at the story and decided I was the better, stronger manuscript. So she edited me and sent me to you. She really, really hopes you aren’t too annoyed.
Overworked: Oh, I’m totally annoyed. You wanna know why?
Beagle: Hey, could you puhleeeze shaddap over there? You’re ruining a perfectly good dream about a threesome with Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.
Overworked: [ignoring the beagle, she continues glaring at Little Forlorn] I’m annoyed because I’ve already started reading your brother. I’m annoyed because now I’m expected to read you. I’m annoyed because your handler suffers from an acute case of premature submitulation, and her blunder forces me to either toss you and your brother out because I’m concerned your handler doesn’t know what she’s doing, or it forces me to read the same story twice. Does your handler believe I have nothing better to do?
Premature submitulation is a dangerous syndrome because your handler is basically telling me she’s not ready. Ok, so she sent you. Yay. Let’s throw a parade. But what makes me believe she’s not at home cranking out another version? Your baby sister, perhaps?
Big Brother: [shouting from the corner] Yah, baby! Bring on the family reunion! Maybe the handler will write a couple of twins in as well. Heck, Underworked, you could be reading fifty versions of us.
Overworked: That’s Overworked, you pulverized pine tree. [settling her steely eyes on Little Forlorn] You can see how this shakes my confidence in your handler. See, I’m thinking down the line here. Let’s say I sign you and we need to edit your pages some [Little Forlorn gasps in fear]. What’s to say your handler won’t create a whole neighborhood of you because she can’t quite make up her mind which of you she likes better. This is the reason my liquor budget is the size of small nations and why my doctor is attempting to clone healthy livers.
Sounds of the UPS truck resound off the walls, forcing the beagle to rush to the door so she can bite his ankles and bare her teeth.
UPS guy: [dressed in full combat gear and extra ankle padding] Delivery for Overworked and Underpaid Editor.
Beagle: [saunters back to her desk perch] Padding…combat gear… pussy.
Overworked: [reading the label, she blanches] Beagle, a round of margaritas. [she dumps a package on her desk and sighs] It’s your handler. She’s sent me yet another sibling. Meet your baby sister.
Little Forlorn Manuscript: I-I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry.
Big Brother: Yah, now you know how it feels to be shoved aside, left to rot while that mangy mutt chews on your corners.
Overworked: [pinching nose as she shuffles through the pile of papers and picks up a whimpering sheet of paper] And who might you be?
Forlorn Little Query Letter: Um, I’m the second try at a query letter. You rejected the first one, so my handler sent me.
Overworked: Gawd, I hate family reunions.
The moral of the story is make double-fudge-with-extra-cherries-sure that your manuscript is complete. If you continue to tweak after you’ve sent out pages, you’re suffering from acute Premature Submitulation. The only known cure for this affliction is anal/cranial inversion.
The facts are this: You’re either ready to submit, or you’re not. There are no takey backeys in the query process. You let the genie out of the bottle, so run with it.