View Full Version : response times for agented submissions

07-30-2010, 09:00 PM
Hey! I hope this is the appropriate forum to post this in!

So...I haven't gone on submission yet, but I was just wondering, for those of you who've been subbed to big publishers (Harper, S&S etc) how long was it before you received responses from them (Rs or not)? I know it's all subjective/depends on tons of factors so I'm probably just being prematurely neurotic, but I'd love a few stats?

Oh, and what time of year did you go out on sub and do you think it affected response times?

07-30-2010, 09:24 PM
I have been on submission since the beginning of January.

The first response (a request for a pre-contractual revision) came exactly one month later. Other responses trickled in over the next couple of months, including some editors who had similar concerns about the book as the first editor and were willing to see a revision.

Towards the end of May, my agent and I decided that I should do the revision, and we should do a second round of submissions, sending the revised book to the editors who had expressed interest in seeing it again, the editors who had not yet responded to the first version, and a few additional editors.

We started that second round of submissions in mid June, so about six weeks ago. No responses yet, though my agent says that things can be slow in the summer, and that it's easy to say no and takes longer to say yes, so no news can be good news.

I was one of the (rare) people who found an agent extremely quickly, so I wasn't really prepared for the drawn-out nature of this part of the process! I'm just trying to not think about it. And I've written 63,000 words of my second book in the meantime, so I've been using my time well.

I'm sure people will come on here who got a contract in a week, and others who waited a year. It really does vary very widely.

My agent and I did discuss timing when it came to submissions and in general, she said, summer is slow, and the end of the year can be bad (because editors may not want to take on any more new books). When is the best time to submit will be part of discussions with your agent when you are ready.

Oh, and I'm remembering that my agent did say that things seem very slow this year -- that publishers are taking a lot longer to make decisions than they have in the past. That's a factor too. It makes me wonder why, after years of fiddling around with different fiction projects I had to decide to actually finish one when the global economy was melting down and the publishing industry was imploding....:)

07-30-2010, 10:07 PM
Oh, and what time of year did you go out on sub and do you think it affected response times?

Subbing around the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holidays is generally a bad idea. Subbing in the summer could result in a slightly longer wait, as many editors and agents vacation.

Depending on the genre you're writing, subbing around the times of major conferences and book shows (like NEA and RWA) is usually asking for a slightly longer than normal wait.

In all cases, though, submit anyway. :D

07-30-2010, 10:50 PM
Have you seen this piece of satire?

"It's summer, and publishers take the summer off, starting about April 15 and resuming shortly after Labor Day. They work hard through early September until the Jewish holidays, which they observe for the full three weeks from Rosh Hashonah to Shemini Atzeret. Columbus Day and Thanksgiving pretty much wipe out October and November, and December is of course gone to Christmas. Their offices are open at greatest length for a couple of weeks in each of January, February and March before they shut down again for the summer, as noted, in April."

--David Frum, quoting a "literary friend" in his Atlantic piece "Why Your Publisher Won't Answer Your Email." (http://news.shelf-awareness.com/ct.jsp?uz3717995Biz9788070)

07-30-2010, 10:54 PM
My book went on submission the beginning of June. It took two weeks for the first R to come in, which made it to the editorial board. By two weeks later, 2 more Rs had come in, then 2 weeks after that, another one. So in 2 months, I've had 4 passes, and I'm waiting to hear back on 5 more (hopefully not all rejections, though!).

My agent said the same thing about summer being slow, that in September / October, there should be more of a response.

All in all, editors got back to us a lot faster than my agent had me thinking they would.

Old Hack
07-30-2010, 11:01 PM
Whenever my work has been out on submission it's always received a response within a few days--I don't think it's ever gone over a week. But perhaps things are different in the UK.

07-31-2010, 06:31 AM
My work is on sub now to a small selection of the big houses, and I'm at the two week mark as of today I believe.

I got my first pass the Monday after subbing (so three days including the weekend) but got my first interest the Tuesday after subbing (so four days). The interested publisher is still interested (supposedly) but other editors are reading the ms. (editorial board?). No idea if it will culminate in an offer or not. Hoping REAL hard though.

I've gotten a handful of additional passes over the last two weeks and there's one house we haven't heard anything from yet.

This was much faster than my agent or I expected considering it's summer, and headed into the dreaded month of August, which I'm inclined to believe IS a slower time since I live here I can say with some authority that NYC is a ghost town in August. This is my first novel so I've got nothing to compare it to though. :)

07-31-2010, 09:58 PM
I got offers from agents within weeks of putting my queries out, too. So it felt like this thing was going to slide into home base really easily. But. . . My book has been out since November, but yes holidays do slow things up a bit, then conferences, then summer. I'm in Rewrite Round, second reads and all that--and have been for 2 months this week. I've almost stopped thinking about it. . . almost.

Everybody's saying the economy has made the editors much more cautious and the whole process slower. This is my first go-round, so I can't say.

Somebody said that after Labor Day in publishing it's like the whistle blows and everybody's got to get out of the pool and back to work. So I'm thinking September might be the time to get the GOOD NEWS.