The moment a literary agent says ‘yes’ to you!!!
IF you are that lucky! In all seriousness though a good amount of authors peddling their works are self published and that decision comes down to them. That said, one could make the argument that the author decides when to seek out an agent as well. So this piece goes out to everyone.
When to get started on publishing. Honestly, first things first…
-Do you have a completed manuscript?
– Yes, proceed to the next question.
– No, then finish your poem, novel, study, etc, before even thinking about it! You’re putting the cart before the horse!
Has your manuscript been edited?
-Yes, Proceed to the next question.
-No… Get at least three different people to edit the manuscript and then reread the final revision BEFORE doing anything else. Unpolished manuscripts are poison to your chances of an agent looking at you twice and are the absolute worst thing you can do if self-publishing. Even in professional works, mistakes can be found, but too many mistakes can turn readers off to your work.
Are YOU satisfied with it?
-No. There shouldn’t be a single person who answered yes. I mean that. A good friend and coworker said to me once that no artist is ever satisfied with their work. If you are… it may be time to take a step back and do some soul searching because to me, that indicates a lack of enthusiasm in said work. It’s like asking someone if they’re ready to say goodbye to their child when that child goes to school on the other side of the globe. NO ONE should be saying yes!
Is the story complete and can you be satisfied with it in it’s current form?
-Yes, you’re ready to begin publishing.
-No, do some soul searching. If you can improve your work, do it. If not, Ask yourself this question again.
I ask these questions, because this is what it all comes down to. Are you ready to part with your work? If not, then you should keep working until you’re ready to allow the proverbial baby to leave the nest. It’s always hard, especially if they’re character that you’ve been working with for a long time.