Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Queries - When Do You Follow Up?

This is always a big question for writers. After submitting a project to editors and/or agents, when is it appropriate to follow up on the query? The answer, all too often, is right there in front of your face. For most agents and editors, there is a statement in the submission guidelines of how long it takes to hear back. In the case of submissions for me, I state, that it can take up to three months to hear back (although I am someone who stresses when it is over a month to reply).

So, when you submit a project, mark that date on your calendar and then set a date in your calendar for when you should hear back. Now, with that said, that does not mean you email the moment the clocks hands hit that date. That date is a "guesstimate" on the part of the editor or agent. It is nothing more than a rough time frame. I would say, give that person another week or so and then just follow up.

When you do follow up, keep it polite!

Dear Mr. Eagan,

I submitted my story, THE RETURN OF ALIEN VAMPIRE BUNNIES, a paranormal romance to you on Jan 31, 2016. I just wanted to follow up and see if there is any additional material that you might need, or if you have made any decision.

I know that sometimes email submissions can get lost either on the part of the sender, or the mail was accidentally placed in the SPAM folder. For this reason, I am attaching the original submission of the synopsis and first three chapters for your review.

I look forward to hearing from you soon....

There are several things that you accomplish by taking this approach.

  1. You are keeping it professional This is not a situation of placing blame but making sure to show the editor/agent that you are someone who keeps records and will follow up when necessary.
  2. You have not placed blame By noting that email is unreliable, you have removed the potential criticism of the editor/agent. You really don't know what happened.
  3. You have made it easy for the reader to review your work When you attach the document, you can reduce the stress of the editor or agent having to go back through all of the records just to find the document. It is right there and they can often get to it immediately.
What a lot of writers fail to remember is that submissions flood our emails. We get a lot of these (some more than others). We do try to get to the stories, but sometimes clients, other projects and so forth do get in the way. In my case, I read submissions in single sittings. Sometimes, I will record the submission in my database, but get distracted by a phone call or something and then delete the submission without a reply.

Sometimes, when I am clearing out emails, I will accidentally delete a submission along with the other junk mail that shows up. This is not because I hate the author, but simply an honest mistake. And yes, I know all of you have done this before!

Now, there is one additional factor I should bring up. There are some out there who only reply to the stories they are interested in. The statement "No answer is an answer." is something I have heard more and more when I attend conferences. Take the time to review your research on that editor or agent. If that is something you have heard from reputable sources, then don't harass the person. Doing so might burn a bridge later on.

1 comment:

  1. Always good advice -- although, it's a little scary to think a submission might be deleted by accident. I like your suggestion of attaching the same submission, just in case.