Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Time It Takes

It is always funny to listen to writers at conferences when they talk about their submissions they have out. Time and time again there is a complaint about the time it takes to hear back from people, whether they are editors or agents. I fully get the frustration as well. We all hate to wait, but... (and you knew this was coming) we have to wait. There are only so many of us and there are all of you.

Writers need to remember that when your submission comes in, we don't just drop everything and scream "Oh yea! There's Becky's submission! I just talked to her this last week at a conference so I'm going to drop everything and read her manuscript now." Oh, how we wish we could do that, but hey, it's not going to happen.

When those submissions come in, they often go into our TBR pile. Just like your To Be Read pile, they sit there and taunt us daily and again, like your pile, we get to them in an order. We also read those manuscripts on our free time. No, we don't always read them at work but we try. We read them on the way home if we commute using mass transit. We read them during any free time we have when we get home.

Remember also, editors and agents are humans as well. Many have families, many have kids and guess what? Like you, they like to spend time with family and significant others.

Now to add an additional layer in there. Assuming we have asked for a full, there is still a process that many places go through before they even think about submitting anything. Editors have to take them to their editorial meetings. Junior editors have to have others read the stories. Agents will get together with other agents in their agency to discuss the project. Some places send the stories to outside readers (yes that is plural) to see how others respond.

The point is, the odds of seeing a response back in a month is tough. Sure, a partial read or a query may be shorter, but hey, there is that time factor still.

So, before you sit down and start complaining, stop and think. Consider who is at the other end.

One final note though. If the story has been out for a year and a half, then you may have a problem.


  1. (Many have families, many have kids and guess what? Like you, they like to spend time with family and significant others.)

    No, that's why we write! Just kidding.

  2. I hope most people complaining are newbies to the biz. Anyone who's been writing for a while, I think, knows you guys are overflowing with submissions.
    Thanks for the reminder, though!

  3. The time it takes? The time it takes to find out what happened in Italy! C'mon, Scott-don't torture us. What was it like, you lucky dog.
    I liked the concept of the conference so much, but wonder if there is really any point in submitting to agents out of the country. Difficult enough to interest an agent here-can't imagine a cross-cultural exchange being much of a shot. Is anyone but Canada really interested in American stories?
    I do know there is great interest here in other cultures-the best seller list is proof of that.
    But back to Rome, please, tell us about it.