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?
Rachel, here’s what I did while I waited: prayed, wrote, read, connected, drank too much Starbucks.
Here’s what I’m doing now: still praying, writing, reading, connecting, drinking WAY too much Starbucks.
I’m enjoying your posts this week!
I’m laughing at Cynthia’s comment because it reflects what I do too!
Besides praying, the biggest thing that helps me keep my mind off the wait is to start researching a new idea for a story and begin writing about that.
Thanks for the post, Rachel!
I start on a new and different book. I was once told not to continue in a series because if the first one isn’t picked up maybe a new and fresh idea will be.
And drink tons of iced tea…
Very helpful post, Rachel. Thank you! I’m in awe of how editors and agents make time to read the amount of manuscripts they do.
As for what I do while I’m waiting, I could pretty much copy Cynthia’s answer into my comment, but I would add that I chase little munchkins around my house, too. They’re pretty good at distracting me from the stress of waiting. 🙂
I generally try to work on other projects, maybe research OTHER agents, pray. Great series!
Jessica R. Patch
My answer sounds much like Cynthia’s. I keep writing, revising, reading, and I’ve gotten quite a bit of pool time in this summer. If only I would tan as nicely as my 7 year old. Guess I’ll be waiting on that as well! 🙂
Cynthia nailed it! Except I drink hot tea. And eat chocolate. I think the best thing to do is just keep working. Write new books, revise the one you submitted, enter contests, get feedback. Work as though you’ve already got a deal in the bag!
Praying “thy will be done”
Pretending I’m oh so very patient
Definitely start on a new story. Also, I might build out my list of agents to query, should that one decline.
I’ve found that it’s only after I’ve given up hope and practically forgotten that I submitted something that I finally receive a response.
So now I actively TRY to give up hope and forget about it. For some odd reason, that never seems to work. 😉
Depends on when I finished the project requested; normally I take a break after completing a project. Normally I’ll know what novel I’ll be working on next, and in the back of my mind, new projects are simmering; when they boil they’ll catch my attention.
That said, I must admit I DO take time to check out various forums (querytracker/absolutewritewatercooler, etc) to see what the agent who has my material is requesting, tweeting, and blogging about…keeps me in the loop without the necessity to nudge before it’s time to do so!
While I wait, I pray, cry, cross my fingers, and worry, worry, worry.
Janet Ann Collins
Keep writing and send something completely different out elsewhere. If I get a rejection it doesn’t hurt as much if I know another possibility still exists and agents aren’t needed for periodicals and some small presses.
Lindsay A. Franklin
Write, write, and write some more! It’s the only thing that keeps my mind off the waiting. And I’ve found that, while I like to write short stories for magazines and maintain my blog, I really need to be immersed in a novel project to completely scratch the creative itch. It can even just be in the planning stages, but nothing makes me happier than working on a novel.
Like Sarah T., I’m drinking hot tea and eating chocolate through the process. 🙂
Wow, a lot of tea drinking and praying going on. Guess it shows how stressful that waiting can be. Me, what do I do? I try to completely let go, forget I’ve even got a m/s out there awaiting feedback and throw myself into the next project. It works, I had a non fiction project picked up by an agent while I was waiting to hear back on a fiction one. Thanks for a great post.
Ooh, that waiting is tough. (Though I can’t imagine handling all the simulanteous projects you all do!)
I pray, I worry that I did something or worded something wrong. (Isn’t worrying in opposition to praying?) I typically work on smaller articles for a short while, then revise or begin on the next big project.
Thanks for the insights this week!
Melissa K Norris
I continue to hone my craft, work on other projects, articles, platform building.
Pray, and yes, check my email daily, just in case. 🙂
In fact, I started a 7 day prayer challenge on my website this week. When I focus on God, it’s much easier to wait on His timing.
These are great posts this week, Rachel. One good thing about being in this business is that it teaches patience. There’s a lot of waiting and not much you can do about it.
I’ve been plugging away at a new project while hoping to hear back on my second book that is under consideration. That pending book is still in my thoughts, but working on something new really helps.
Thanks for the wonderful post.
Write! Blog! Create community! :o) When I was younger I got impatient and expected quicker responses. At that age, I was so naive of the market. Now I write in between because I love writing and can’t imagine NOT writing.
Lately I’ve become pretty good at “forgetting” about it all. It’s always in the back of my mind, but I don’t allow myself to obsess. Then when I hear back, it’s kind of a little surprise.