What is the Typical Response Time of an Agent or Publishing Editor - article

You have done your research and your submissions are winging their way to agents and editors. Twenty-four hours have passed and you are biting your nails. Most agents mention the response time on their website. They also indicate if they wish to receive status queries. Many agents state that if you have not heard from them in three months, you may take their silence as a decision not to accept you as a client. In this case, there is nothing more to do. If you have not heard back within this time frame, you are not going to get representation from that agent. Editors almost always take more time to get back to you than agents. They can take three to six months, even up to a year. If their policy is that not hearing from them indicates a rejection, do not e-mail a status query. Do not call. Let it go and move on.

However, let’s say that your query/submission was irresistible. You followed guidelines, you did your research, and you wrote an awesome book. Response time for agents varies greatly. Some will be back to you in 24 hours, others a week, while some will take six weeks. A few will answer in the three to six month range. There are several websites that offer some real data on the length of time it takes agents to answer queries and submissions: QueryTracker, Absolute Write Forums, and AgentQuery. Research the length of time it takes agents to respond. This information will bring you some piece of mind while waiting. If your research shows that you should have received an answer within a certain period of time, and a lack of response from a particular agent is not meant to be taken as a definitive rejection, it’s appropriate to send out a status query.

A status query is a short note, usually an e-mail that reminds an editor or agent about your earlier correspondence and asks for an update on the status of a manuscript. A status check query should be very short in length. This correspondence is not a place to vent your frustration with the publishing process; save that for your therapist. There are two keys to a status check: be brief and be polite. If a status query doesn’t work, don’t take that as a sign to ramp up your efforts. This is not the time to begin sending dozens of e-mails and finding the agent’s contact phone number and calling them ad nauseum.

Finally, don’t take it personally if you don’t get an answer. Agents and editors are busy. They are inundated with offered material. The lack of a response does not mean you work is worthless. The best thing to do while waiting for a response is to move on to the next thing. Publishing is a competitive business. You may have to write more than one novel before you get your breakthrough. Don’t waste time waiting. Always be focused on generating new opportunities.

Share this story
Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn