Friday, August 7, 2009

How Long Should You Wait For a Publisher to Respond?

I get lots of emails from writers who have submitted their manuscripts to traditional publishers and ask me how long they should wait for a response before giving up and submitting to other publishing houses. My answer… not long! Most publishers need two or more months to review your work and respond—some never do. Meanwhile, your work may become outdated (non-fiction), or you might miss a golden opportunity with another house.

Personally, I believe you should carefully choose the top five most likely to pick up your book and stop there. Send a complete and professional package to those five and wait at least 10 weeks for a response.

More tips to query a publisher:

*Research the publishers to learn which ones are “presently” looking for your genre.

*Follow up on-line at the publishers Website to confirm instructions for submissions (current addresses, requirements, complete packages?).

*Call the publisher and ask who the submission editor is—and the correct spelling of their name. Then address your correspondence to that person only.

*Send “only” what is requested (no pictures of you and your dog!).

It’s okay to follow up with a phone call to the editor, but do so only once you know they have received your package and before they have had time to throw it out!

Be prepared and have thick skin. More than 90% of manuscripts are tossed without consideration. Don’t take it personal. Rejection letters are often impersonal form letters addressed to “Dear Author.” This does not mean your writing is bad. Many famous authors have been rejected multiple times. Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull was rejected 140 times and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind 38 times.

A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story includes detailed information on how to query a publisher as well as other publishing methods you might be interested in.

I appreciate all comments and additional suggestions from published authors.


Patricia Rockwell said...

I queried a publisher about my novel, and it was almost three months to the day when I got a response. They suggested some revisions which I made and re-submitted and I intend to wait at least another three months to hear again.

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to why go the route of submitting to a publisher without an agent. I definitely want someone on my side when I have to look over a contract. Am I wrong in this?

Carol said...

To Patricia,
Thanks for your comment and congrats on your upcoming book!!!
It never hurts to query more than one publisher. What if that publisher had not been interested in your book (but I'm glad they were)??
To Anonymous,
If you can get an agent to represent you without a heavy fee attached, I say GO FOR IT!

Anica Lewis said...

Some publishers - notably, DAW Books and Tor for fantasy - read unsolicited, unagented manuscript submissions, and have specific guidelines for these submissions on their websites.

To author 101, re: the advice to Anonymous, no agent should be charging you a fee, heavy or otherwise! Agents make their money by taking a percentage of the money that you make, which means they get paid when they get you a book contract! In the meantime, they should ask for money only to reimburse them for expenses like postage and copying.

Carol said...

Anica, thank you for clarifying that!
Good luck to everyone with their submissions!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your hard work in producing an interesting, helpful blog for writers! As a former federal prosecutor who is presently trying to write his memoirs or "war stories," I am trying to learn more about publishing and find your blog to be intriguing! I also am a new blogger, ( Thank you!

Joanne Olivieri said...

Very good advice and I agree you have to have thick skin. I always look at rejection notices as a challenge.

Carol said...

To Richard,
Thank you for your kind words. I went to your site...great and VERY interesting. I suggest all our visitors take a peek!!