Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Editors Answer: Submissions Response Time

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I am an aspiring writer who pitched at a conference and was asked to send in a synopsis and partial. Well, I pitched to one editor of a major publishing house and then caught another in the hall who liked me and agreed to have me send the same to her. This was in June and I sent a professional query letter, two page synopsis and first three chapters to both by the end of the week. One month later I emailed and said that I was looking forward to any comments that they might have.

Now here it is, September, and I have not heard from either. My question is this - do I keep waiting, email again or pull the plug? I actually would like to revise the book one more time but am afraid to touch it until I hear back. It seems like a bad idea to send them new chapters because I decided to expand the story a bit. I want to be professional and build a career so doing this right is very important to me.

Start by checking the publisher's website to see what this editor or publisher says is their typical response time, and what they say about checking back with them. I know you are anxious, but for many publishers, especially if you are talking about a big NY traditional pub, three months is not a long time for response to a partial, even if requested.

Generally, sending a polite email asking about status is perfectly acceptable. Make it short. Give your name and book title and summarize the background - where you met the editor, that s/he requested the partial, and when you sent it.

What you should be doing while waiting to hear back is writing your next book. If the editors you submitted this first one to end up rejecting it, or never respond to you, then you can consider revising it and sending it elsewhere. But for now, get moving on another book!


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid to inquire on status at all, probably because I've read this kind of advice to other eager beavers all over the Blogosphere and fear I'll be labeled impatient. Then, there's also all those publishing professionals who say no response means no.

This brings to mind a post by Janet Reid who worried she was scaring all the wrong people with her advice.

Scaring, yes, and confusing the heck out of us too.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree with the first comment. if after a period of time you have had no response, do you enquire? how does one distinguish between a swamped editor who has taken perhaps eight months to reply and a no response that means not interested. i personally have waited a long time before hearing back from an editor and i'm delighted to say the response was a good one but by the time i did get a reply i was pretty sure that door had closed.

i continued to write during this period and it is tough without feedback, especially when working on a series, but what else can you do?

Blayne Edwards said...

I've never called anyone with a brief and polite inquiry (be it an editor or otherwise) and been chastised or penalized for having done so. I think any "rules" for contacting editors, publishers or anyone else for that matter are made to be politely, professionally broken. There's a line between being enthusiastic, determined and sure of your talents and being a pain in the ass.

Of course, with the right accent you can call pretty much anyone and ask them anything and get away with it so my advice may not work for everyone.

Anne D said...

On a slightly more technical point: It doesn't hurt to use another email address/venue to send your follow-up enquiry.

I lost months waiting for a reply for a submission that was never received. There was much frustration on my behalf to have waited so diligently to only find ALL my emails (sub, follow ups and secondary followups ) had disappeared into the ether.

Even now, I still have issues with that publishers email server - but now at least I know the problem exists and only wait a few days/a week past the outside contact date to follow up at all my editors email addresses.

(LOL my word verify is MISHACK hahaha!)

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting for a very long time to hear back from two publishers. I am to the point where I wish they would just send a short email saying "rejected" so I could move on. I know I am supposed to be writing my next novel now but I am in a slump and depressed because of the no response.