There are about a million and one posts around the web that advise aspiring authors to make their manuscript as good as it can possibly be before submitting to agents - examples are Nathan, Nicola and Kristin. It's certainly sound advice.
When writing THE LONG SECOND, I was fortunate to have almost constant editing taking place, which meant that when the first draft was finished, it was already pretty solid and error-free (though not entirely). Because Marshall Buckley, the author, is a collaborative effort, every chapter that is written by one half of the partnership is read, checked, commented upon and corrected, usually within 24 hours. Working this way probably wouldn't suit everybody, but it works well for us. (And please forgive me for switching between I/me and us/we - it all amounts to the same thing really).
In addition, there are a number of Beta-Readers who also checked for plot failures and inconsistencies. As a result, THE LONG SECOND went through a total of three drafts, with drafts 2 and 3 really being only minor corrections (with the exception of one chapter which had a reasonably significant re-write).
When it came to submitting to agents, there was a reasonable level of confidence that the book was solid and presentable, and that confidence was rewarded when we signed up very quickly with Lora.
While discussing the state of the sequel, I asked whether she wanted to see an early draft or would prefer to wait for a more presentable copy - especially as I think this book is likely to require a slightly more heavy hand when it comes to the editing process. As expected, she told me she would wait for it to be in a "tighter state" before reading it. At the same time, she sent over a nice compliment:
"THE LONG SECOND was a pleasure to read precisely because it was already in a fairly advanced state... which helps immensely with first impressions".
Book 2 is now well over 75% complete, and the few hitches in the storyline are now resolving themselves nicely. It's all downhill from here. I expect the first draft will be complete by about the end of November/early December, with the final version ready sometime in January.
In other news... the HTC Hero is still here and working nicely, having spent the last few days trying to make it talk to the work email system (I won't bore you with the details). Oddly, my normal work phone (a dull but worthy Nokia) has just died. Strange coincidence.