View Full Version : How long is long enough?

12-04-2004, 01:29 AM
When should one give up on a publisher and move on?

Forgive me if this topic has been addressed endlessly in this forum. I haven't found an answer in my searches.

Here's what happened: I wrote a young adult novel and entered it into a contest with a very reputable publisher. No one won the contest, but I did get a personal letter from an editor with a mixed message that said: 1) my submission "stood out"; 2) I had a "fascinating premise" and "exciting elements and details"; but 3) the details "came off as a bit forced" with the "focus on the description of the world at the expense of the story." (It has a futuristic setting.)

He invited me to streamline the story, eliminating detail, and resubmit it. I did so and sent it back in early August. About eight weeks later, I sent him a self-addressed card with options he could check off such as, "Please be patient. Your manuscript is still under consideration" and "Take a hint. We're not interested."

He checked off the "be patient" box and wrote a personal note on the card saying he was sorry for the delay. I received the card back almost immediately.

Another two months later, and I am trying to be patient... but, frankly, it's hard. I finished the book almost a year ago and it's been under consideration with this one publisher -- either as a contest submission or a straight-on manuscript -- for nearly all that time. Should I be hopeful because I haven't received an outright rejection yet?

aka eraser
12-04-2004, 02:48 AM
This is kind of a tricky one. If my math is right, the "be patient" response came in October. I've heard of publishers taking up to a year to respond so you're in no danger of setting a new record (I hope).

We're into holiday season now too wherein every backlog seems to get backer and loggier. I know it's difficult, but I think I'd give them until the end of January or so before approaching them again. But in the meantime I'd be researching other likely homes for the ms.

Was it either stated or implied in your dealings with this particular publisher that you were offering it to them exclusively? If not, and their guidelines say they accept simultaneous submissions, I'd query another likely pub or two (who also accept simsubs) while waiting. If you go this route, make sure you tell the new pub(s) it's a simsub.

Many of the seasoned vets on this board would tell you to forget about it for now and focus on your next book. It's difficult advice to accept but it makes a lot of sense. Right now that particular ms is out of your control (unless you can go the simsub route) so focusing on what you can control, your writing, is more productive than fretting.

Hope you get a positive response soon. Keep us posted.

12-04-2004, 03:16 AM
3 months is not really that long.

In the meantime, get busy and write your next book. I think someone on this board said it: once you've submitted the ms, forget it. It's out of your hands now. Some people have to wait longer than that (6 months? A year? I think Shawn even mentioned she had to wait 18 months?) for an editor to get back to you. The fact that he sent back the card saying be patient means he hasn't forgotten your ms and has indeed received it. That's a good thing. So do what you said you would: be patient.

Eraser has good points too... the holiday season... usually Fall is very busy for publishing... and also, if the publisher has not asked for exclusive read, send it to someone else. Don't hang on to ONE publisher at a time.

Remember, editors are very busy, and he's already doing you a favor by showing interest in reading something that he's already rejected. So you've got to give him time. His priorities are always going to be his authors and pressing projects.

I think to pressure the poor guy after 6 weeks and then 2 months seem desperate.

Keep on writing.

12-04-2004, 04:11 AM
Thanks for putting it into better perspective.

I am trying not to appear desperate, which is why I haven't contacted the editor since the card in October, eight weeks after my submission. I wasn't aware I was pressuring him. My background is in newspapers, so I'm accustomed to a faster turnaround -- a mindset I've been trying to shake because I know it's unrealistic, yet the daily trip to the mailbox fills me with anticipation nonetheless.

About the simultaneous submission issue: I didn't imply it was an exclusive read, but I don't know what he may have inferred.

Again, thanks for the wisdom!

12-04-2004, 04:48 AM
If it's an exclusive read or if you think one is implied, then you should ask for a time frame. Otherwise, you send it out to other publishers.

12-04-2004, 06:00 AM
Then, would it be appropriate to write and thank him for all consideration given the manuscript, but if I haven't received a response by January 30th I will begin submitting it elsewhere? Or is that risky because it would be considered "pressure"?

12-04-2004, 08:08 AM
Frank's right. Six months to a year is not uncommon. It sounds very promising so far, and if I were you, I'd hold my tongue and cross my fingers for now.

Leave it until about February and then ask if he/she minds if you submit it elsewhere as well.

Good luck.

12-04-2004, 09:54 AM
Very good. Will do. Thanks!

02-04-2005, 06:19 AM
When your patience thins...for me, eight weeks.

Daughter of Faulkner
02-21-2005, 07:45 AM
I think you have a great deal of hope, actually.
I was an editor for years and it does take a long time. However, I know some houses in NY that will get back to me in a week and the most two. So it does differ. And it depends on WHO you know.

Because of the first letter and inviation to resubmit after a rewrite, I will stand by my words of this sounds good to me!

In the meantime, why not shop for an agent?

Hang on the best is yet to come!

02-21-2005, 09:37 PM
One thing we can't stand when we submit our books: The waiting. MY GOD, THE WAITING!!!! It does eat up at us. But, for the time being, try to give them some breathing room to fully consider your manuscript. Bugging them about it will only increase your chances of getting rejected. Still, I think after 18 months to 2 years (!), you should inquire about it.

Meanwhile, yes, definitely write your next book. Keep yourself as busy as possible then when you do finally hear from them, you can once again put your energies into this book, depending on what they say.

03-18-2005, 07:42 PM
Anyone have a view on how long I should wait after submitting an article or short story before sending it somewhere else? Naturally, I don't want to be sending the same work to more than one person at a time, but I do want to keep it 'live' out there.

03-18-2005, 07:57 PM
Whatever the guidelines state, give it another week then followup. If you don't hear anything two weeks after following up (or three weeks if you're using snail mail to follow-up with) then consider it rejected.

I know the feeling.... but you can't play your cards that way. Meanwhile, keep yourself busy with other projects.

03-22-2005, 10:52 PM
Thanks to all for your advice and encouragement. Seven months later, I still haven't heard from the publisher (which could be a good sign, I suppose, since at least he hasn't rejected my manuscript).

I wrote him a letter in late January, thanking him for his time and consideration and saying I would begin seeking other routes to publication if I hadn't heard from him by mid-February. In early March I began sending off query letters and have since received a request for an exclusive from a well-regarded agent. I'm also encouraged that I received her initial request for the first three chapters, and then her subsequent request for the full manuscript, in the span of two weeks. I understand that not everyone can -- or wants to -- respond quickly, but it sure is refreshing when someone does!

03-29-2005, 04:02 AM
Anyone have a view on how long I should wait after submitting an article or short story before sending it somewhere else? Naturally, I don't want to be sending the same work to more than one person at a time, but I do want to keep it 'live' out there.

As stated by a previous poster, whatever the guidelines state. If the guidelines don't state, and I don't hear from them in 6 months, I send a letter inquiring about the status. If I don't hear back from them, I mark it "rejection assumed" on my submission list and move on. Keep in mind that some publications only publish twice or even once a year, so they may want to hold it and consider it until near publication time.