A friend of mine recently attended a local SCBWI conference, where she had a paid critique session with an editorial assistant at a well-respected, mid-sized publishing house. This editor was very interested in my friend's manuscript and said that she'd waited "all day" to meet with her (the critique was one of the last scheduled). She went as far as to say that if my friend had carried the emotional arc that she'd shown in those first 30 pages throughout the rest of the manuscript, she'd be interested in acquiring it.If it weren't your friend who thought the editor was jumping the gun, I would have wondered if your friend had had a little critique-stress-induced delusion. Was there a unicorn nearby when the editor said that?
I've heard of editors showing interest in manuscripts, but I don't recall the word "acquire" ever being used at this stage. I think this is a very promising sign, but my friend thinks this (newish) editorial assistant is jumping the gun. She thinks it probably means nothing more than that the editor would like to see the full manuscript, and she'll probably reject it anyway. I'd like to know your thoughts on the subject. Should my friend be scrambling to get the manuscript over to the editor, continuing at her snail's pace with preparing to query agents, or some combination of the above?
It does strike me as highly unusual for anyone who is in the position to acquire to use the word "acquire" around a manuscript she hasn't read all the way through. But who knows? I wouldn't recommend your friend "scramble", as that usually results in manuscripts being sent too early (unless it's finished already?), but yes, do send that manuscript to that editor. And unless your friend agreed to an exclusive, she should also keep doing the regular submissions work she would have anyway, just in case the fairy dust wears off before the editor can get the acquisition approved. Good luck to her!