I absolutely stalked my mail box waiting for the hard copy of my critiqued manuscript to arrive from my agent. I've never been so excited to receive a package, seriously never. Not that my life is dull, just that I was dying to see what he liked and didn't like about my baby. When it arrived on Friday I abandoned all my other worldly duties, tore open the envelope and dove in.
So what does it look like when an agent critiques your manuscript? That depends on the agent. This I must say though, they are not your own personal editor so don't expect them to catch or correct all your grammar mistakes. That wears on them and they don't like it. I always feel horrible when I read through a critique and find a bunch of grammar mistakes my agent has fixed! My first agent sent only bullet points, no printed out manuscript. Things did not work out with him but I think that had more to do with the book than with him. That book is on a shelf awaiting a serious re-write. This time and this agent were going to be different.
First was the cover letter which I read and re-read before moving on. The cover letter stated both good and bad, with emphasis on what needed fixing. I'm lucky, it was gentle and the fixes were minimal. I haven't always been this lucky though. The critique of my first book was brutal and was followed by two more brutal critiques. Back to my current book. Once I read through the cover letter I eagerly set it aside and started on the manuscript. Point to remember at this stage: your agent loves your book and wants it to succeed. Take their criticism as constructive. They only want to polish your book and make it the best it can be. Take a stand only on points you feel are vital to the story. Trust their expertise!
There were enough grammar mistakes to make me want to send the reader flowers and wine. Ugh, now I feel horrible. I had gone over this manuscript so many times I'd lost count and still made mistakes! It happens. Try not to sweat it too much when it happens to you. Do your best and be prepared. Your agent will expect mistakes to a point.
I sat down at my computer with my critiqued manuscript next to me and fixed all the grammar errors my agent/reader generously pointed out. Then I double checked the entire manuscript for similar errors. Once that was done I put the cover sheet beside me and scoured the entire manuscript for the points I needed to fix. When that was done, I went over it again, and again. I'm nothing if not thorough! Now I'm awaiting a conference call with my agent later this week. Now that my manuscript is polished and put together I'm starting to get very excited!