Sunday, November 4, 2007

Questions of Protocol

I have a question concerning the proper way to follow-up on a submission. I had a manuscript critique with an editor from a closed house roughly five months ago. She was interested in the novel, but it wasn’t finished yet. At the end of the critique she gave me her business card. A month later, I sent her a picture book via the conference coupon. It is now one week shy of four months and I haven’t heard anything yet. This is a relatively short amount of time I know, but I am anxious to send it on to other publishers but feel this was an exclusive submission as I didn’t note otherwise. Which would be more professional in this situation, send a follow-up e-mail (which was on her card) or snail mail? I would walk a mile of hot coals to work with her, so I don’t want to do anything that comes across too casual. Any advice?
It's not an exclusive unless you tell someone it's an exclusive. Keep submitting. And you may email the editor at this point and remind her that she's had your submission for four months. Mentioning how excited you would be to work with her isn't a bad idea, either.
Is it OK for a writer (newly unagented) to approach one (or more) of the editors at a closed house who looked at another manuscript when she was agented?
If the editor in question specifically asked to see other work from that author (and not just other projects from that agent) in her correspondence, then yes. Be sure to remind her of that, and be calm if she wants to stand on her company's no-unagented-work policy. But it's ok to ask.
If yes, then can said writer use the email address she obtained via notes from the agent or should she snail mail to the address of the publisher? If this is not appropriate behavior ever ever ever, please discuss why not.

No. While this does vary some from editor to editor, many editors do not want anything in their email inboxes that they could reasonably handle via paper. This is not because we have a vendetta against trees, but because our email inboxes are monstrous already. They are not the place for slush. Agents get to email me because the stuff they send me is often time-sensitive. Email is for things that need a quick turn around. The author who emails a manuscript to me seems to be saying I am important rather than the preferable I have manners.


Michelle Kemper Brownlow said...

I am so glad I found your blog. One of the questions posted here is something I was concerned about as well.

Who knew I would actually find the EXACT situation and an answer from an editor!

Will be bookmarking this one! Thanks!!

Stephanie J. Blake said...

Thank you very much! And good luck with your acquisition!

Anonymous said...

"It's not an exclusive unless you tell someone it's an exclusive."

Thanks for stating clearly that this has become the norm. Lots of new writers are still agonizing over not having stated that their work is a multiple and therefore thinking they can't sub anywhere else. But practical experience shows that's really shifted 180.

Also thanks for the email info. Just this weekend I leafed through an "all about writing for kids" book at B&N, and the author was all about how email subs are the new standard, and I wondered where she got that from. A slight increase, yes; the way to expect to sub from now on, no. Not only would editors go insane with the numbers, but their email would become unusable and you could be rejected with the touch of a delete button.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for answering my question!

I can’t believe how long I’ve been going to conferences, etc. and how much I still need to learn. It’s a good thing my nails are acrylic or I’d be down to the cuticles by now!

I’m off to work on that status e-mail. Hope it will not be as stressful to write as the blasted cover letter was. Eegads!! (And I call myself a writer? What?!)

Anonymous said...

Update . . .

I sent the email to the editor and received a very nice and prompt reply. I can’t believe how nervous I was to hit the send button. More waiting, but that’s okay. I have a bit longer to pretend I’m not rejected. Ha.

Thanks again!

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