Before you read any further, I suggest you grab some marshmallows to eat while we talk about this.
Don't have any marshmallows? That is sad. But it turns out I have enough for both of us.
You may be wondering--why are we eating marshmallows? Well. Have you ever heard of the "marshmallow test"? Originally conducted at Stanford by somebody blah blah please google it if you're really interested. The gist is this: some people wanted to test young children for the ability to make future-oriented decisions that would involve an understanding of delayed gratification.
This is how it worked:
Researchers sat a kid at a table that had a single marshmallow on it. The original researchers hid behind a two-way mirror (creepy much?).
They told the kid that they were going to leave, and that he was welcome to eat the marshmallow while they were gone, but if they came back and he hadn't eaten it, he would get another one.
One now, or two later. Of course some kids waited and some didn't.
I was talking to my friend about this the other day, and we both agreed that you could have done this to our young selves over and over again, and we probably would never have eaten the marshmallow.
Then she looked at me and said--and this is a friend of mine who's not a writer herself--"I'm pretty sure writing for you is like one big exercise in delayed gratification."
Were truer words ever spoken?
I cannot speak for the process of actually getting a book published, but when I look at the part of the process I've come to know quite well--the insanely steep learning curve of the pre-published writer--my friend was absolutely right.
You could send that manuscript off as it is. Or you could do one more revision, or rewrite, or overhaul...and then send off an even better manuscript. Obviously, you have to send your work out eventually. But when it takes so much hard work and practice to get good enough, I think it's easier--yes, it's tempting--to send something out before it's ready.
That said, would you care for a marshmallow?