Blogger: Rachel Kent
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Today’s assumption is: Because my manuscript was requested, I should expect to hear back from the editor/agent immediately because he or she has been waiting around to read my submission.
In our office, we received two types of emails that reflect this assumption. The first type goes something like this: “My submission is attached. If I don’t receive a reply by May 17, I will assume you are not interested.”
Giving a date for a response is more than likely to get you an immediate rejection rather than a chance at publication/representation. It shows a lack of understanding of the editor/agent’s busy schedule. The only time I can think of that this kind of deadline is appropriate is if the submission is from the president, a movie star, or someone who is going to garner a WHOLE lot of interest based on his or her name.
The second is this: “I sent my manuscript two weeks ago and haven’t received a reply. I’m just checking to see if you’ve had a chance to read it yet.”
Now, I want to clarify that, if you are writing to check to make sure a submission arrived on the editor or agent’s desk that’s completely acceptable, but checking in so early to see if your manuscript has been read is inappropriate.
Most of the time, when an editor or agent requests a project, it’s because there’s a small chance the book will be a good fit for that agent or publishing house. The idea sparked interest. The editor/agent requests the project and hopes the author will send it in, but if the author doesn’t, the editor/agent probably won’t even notice. The sheer number of submissions received makes it impossible to keep track of everything that has been requested. Now, every once in awhile, editors/agents run across THE BOOK. These are projects that stick with us, and we will follow-up with the author to be sure we receive that project proposal, but these are few and far between.
Your requested manuscript could be my next favorite book; it just might take me awhile to read it. Even if I’m really excited about the idea, it still usually takes time to work looking at it into my schedule. I know I run the risk of losing the projects to other agents, which is why I try my best to reply in a timely fashion, but my current clients and interactions with publishers must come first.
All of we agents, and editors too, appreciate your understanding and patience. If you haven’t heard anything in 6-8 weeks, I encourage you all to check in, but before that it’s best to hang tight and wait. Something we all do a lot of in this crazy publishing industry!
Little note of apology: I’m so sorry to those of you whose projects I have had for a very long time! I’m behind in my reading and am working toward catching up.
What do you do while you wait for responses from editors and agents?