As I sit here waiting for my photos to upload so I can show you all the new place I am living—they are taking forever to upload—I have started to think about patience. Obviously, it’s something we need in life in general. But when you’re a writer you have to be more patient that a pregnant African Elephant (they’re pregnant for an average of 660 days, in case you were wondering). Now I’m not saying that you need to wait two years on submissions, although I have actually received a couple of rejections two and even three years after I sent in a manuscript!
The thing is, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen or heard someone say it’s been a month, or two, or even three, should I status query? Or worse, I status queried and didn’t hear back, well forget them. Ack!
First of all, most places that you query will have a response time listed somewhere. Whatever that response time is, I find it’s best to just forget about it for as long as you can. Why? Because you don’t want to go crazy with anticipation, that’s why! Of course, you probably won’t be able to forget because you studied the market and chose to send your precious manuscript to this particular agent/editor/publisher for a reason, right? So, take that response time and add a few months to it. The horror! But people in publishing are busy! They have stacks and stacks and stacks of words to read. A person can only do so much so fast. What I like to do is wait until I can barely stand it. (Funny how this usually coincides with the listed response time) and then wait at least another two months before I status query. Yes, I said two months. Maybe even three. Why? To give the person the time to read my manuscript without the added knowledge that I have been bugging them to do so.
Actually, I have gotten pretty good at forgetting (I like to think it’s a skill, not old age creeping up on me) and have found that status querying doesn’t usually matter. I do hear back on submissions eventually. I know there is that rare occasion when something has been lost or forgotten. So, if it makes you feel better and you have waited for what feels like an excruciatingly long amount of time past the stated response time, send a short status query. But be aware that you might not hear back on that either. Policies change. All in all, no response = no. And boy, can those places with a no response policy make the wait easier, because getting a response is a great surprise!
In case you’re wondering, when you have an agent the response times do get shorter, usually. And the responses are often times specific and helpful. But there is still waiting!
Well, my picture still won’t load so I’m going to go do something else for a while. Guess I’ll have to make you wait to see it.
Do you have a personal policy on waiting to hear back on submissions? I'd love to hear what it is.