Time is a Sliding Scale

I keep a spreadsheet of submissions. I’m sure a lot of authors do, right? Mine logs who I sent something to, and when, and what the response was (or, often, wasn’t). It’s difficult sometimes to determine when to give up though. Some agents say on their sites: “If you haven’t heard back within X weeks, it’s a pass.” That’s cool because, much as it sucks, at least I know not to keep waiting. But a lot of queries—and even some submissions based on request for the manuscript—vanish into the void and are never seen or heard from again.

Right now I’m querying my YA fantasy. An editor at a major publisher asked to see the first three chapters! That was last July. I sent them but haven’t heard from her since.

A small publisher also asked for pages . . . Five months ago. They assure me they respond to everyone, but their site also says 10–12 weeks. A follow-up email informed me they’ve had “delays.” That’s fine, but I wish they could at least tell me where I am in the queue.

The July submission is the one that’s been out the longest, and the five-month one is runner up. My most recent submissions were a month ago. So I’m at between 8 and 1 months. Which to a querying writer feels like forever. (It’s worse when they ask to read your manuscript and then never respond to your follow-ups. You’d think that shouldn’t happen, but it does.)

I try to remind myself that I want them to take their time and really consider. That snap decisions seldom go in a writer’s favor. I tell myself that I took a long time writing and revising, and I shouldn’t rush now. A few more weeks (or months) won’t hurt. And of course I try to find new projects to distract me from checking my email every few minutes! Sometimes that works, sometimes not.

How about you, fellow writers? Any querying horror stories? Insanely long waits? Are you able to distract yourself somehow while waiting to hear back? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Time is a Sliding Scale”

  1. I’ve had a few queries that came back way after. Like I’d already moved one. Like 8 months or a year. Of course, I’ve also had the rejection in less than 24 hours. At least I’m not waiting around for their answer. 🙂

    1. Someone told me it was 16 months before they received a rejection from the one publisher I submitted to in July. So I’m not holding my breath for anything good. It seems to me that good news usually comes quickly—the agent or publisher reads it and jumps on it. Then again, I had one agent come back almost a year after I queried and ask for the full manuscript. I had sold it by then, though.

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