Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sitting On Your Hands Is Never Part of Your Job

I submitted some work to a major U.S. publisher almost a year ago. A few months later, I received a personalized, lengthy, warm email from an editor who indicated she liked my work but that she wasn't ready to take on the project at that point. She did suggest some changes and invited me to send it back to her. I revised and re-submitted. A few months went by and I emailed her again to check the status. She replied that she hadn't yet had a chance to get to it. A few months later, I emailed again. She wrote back: "I need more time to review this submission." And it's been a while since then...How do I interpret this? Is my story just collecting dust under her desk when I could be actively sending my work elsewhere? 
 Or might this mean that there may be some genuine interest and that I should just be patient?
I don't know how many times I've gotten variations on this question.  DO be patient.  And DO keep submitting elsewhere.  The changes that she asked for should be exclusive to her... for maybe six months, to be generous.  Until then, keep submitting the previous draft elsewhere.  After that, submit the revision (assuming you think it's stronger) elsewhere.

Editors can take a goddamn long time to just LOOK at something, at which point they may be very excited about it.  An interminable wait may not mean that nothing's ever going to happen.  But you should NOT be waiting for that day (if it ever comes) to KEEP SUBMITTING.  



Sylvia said...

Right, that makes a lot of sense. The one bit I'm not sure on. I haven't sold yet... do you think I should keep submitting?

*ducks and runs for cover*

Literaticat said...



oh lordy.

Six WEEKS is being generous.

(Though as an agent, I'd say that six DAYS is being generous.)

The thing is though, whatever you consider generous, since you didn't set a timeline for exclusivity at the outset, you can't get mad at her for taking forever and a day. It is what it is.

But if she's this disrespectful of your time, she might be a black hole that will NEVER get back to you. At this point I personally would just back-burner it, pretend like it is a rejection, and start subbing to other people.

If she does decide to read it and love it, then awesome - and if she doesn't, well, at least you will have been doing footwork to get in somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

As EA said, we've seen variations of this question on posts before. What I find interesting and new is the part about keeping the requested revisions for that specific editor and submit the previous draft elsewhere. Thanks for the tip.

LindaBudz said...

I am curious about not sending out the revised version to other editors. I understand that the original editor did some work on this, but presumably the author agreed with the suggestions and proceeded to make them his/herself. I would think the author would want to send out the best possible version; otherwise, you're burning through editors with a lesser version.

Maybe it would make sense to send out the newer version but let the first editor have first dibs should others express interest?

Word verification: bureads ... sorta like the author's ms right now.

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