I have a YA manuscript that I would like to submit to a First YA Novel Contest. The deadline is Dec. 31. The problem is, I still have that manuscript out to another publisher, and the contest rules say the manuscript cannot be sent out to others while under consideration for the contest. Even though I sent my manuscript out over 8 months ago, I still haven't heard anything. And unlike some publishers, this particular publisher says they will respond within six months if the author sends an SASE, which I did. Two weeks ago, I sent a letter inquiring whether or not they are still considering the manuscript, and if they are, when might they make their decision. I sent another SASE as well. My question to you is, if I still haven't heard back by the contest submission deadline (Dec. 31), do I need to contact the publisher with the manuscript to withdraw it from consideration? I have no desire to antagonize any publishers, but nor do I want to withdraw my manuscript if there is a chance that they want it. Neither the contest nor this other publisher is a sure thing after all.
Eight months is a bit long, no question. I wonder if it's gotten lost there. And you've given them a chance to express interest—even just preliminary interest. I'd recommend withdrawing the manuscript and trying the contest; you can send it back to that publisher later if you like.