I know that when an agent says she wants the manuscript in near-pefect condition before she is queried she is saying she wants it complete and clean. But she’s not really expecting it to be finished.
I can’t imagine ever stopping the revision process of mine. It’s ongoing, like raising a kid.
I recently sent an agent the first chapter, on her request. Then minutes after punching the send button I promptly read through and rewrote that first chapter on my laptop.
I now have manuscripts out to a bunch of beta readers and none has responded yet. Meanwhile, I’ve done some significant revisions here and there behind their backs.
It’s not that the work wasn’t complete and clean. It’s that I keep changing every day and so does a living, breathing document like a novel manuscript. I’ve not done any research on this and I’ll not bother. I’ve been a professional writer for 30 years — albeit as a newspaper reporter — and I am supremely confident that no work of writing is ever truly finished until it is published.
In a way, publishing something kills it — that’s the day the work stops changing.