Thursday, June 13, 2013
To hear back from submissions can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more. The most common response time is around ninety days. I don’t follow up on any of my submissions until ninety days have passed.
If authors can submit to only one agent/editor at a time then have to wait a minimum of ninety days, it would take forever to find a place for our work. Editors and agents know that and understand simultaneous submissions are necessary. On those occasions when I am dealing with an exclusive read, I will wait a definite period of time, not to exceed six weeks.
We must observe some courtesy rules with simultaneous submissions. First, submissions should never be made to more than one person in the same agency or publishing house at a time. That can cause problems.
Submissions should be personally addressed, regardless of how many agents/editors we submit to. Many agents and editors believe that if the author does not pay them the courtesy of personally addressing the submission, they don’t owe the author the courtesy of a personal response.
“Dear Sir or Madame” letters are generally regarded by editors and agents the equivalent to “Dear Occupant.” What do you do with your occupant mail? We do too.
Submissions with dozens of email addresses showing in the TO box tend to be regarded as spam. Recipients will look at the list and likely think, “Well, somebody will answer them.” Yet nobody does. Dozens of rejections by omission occur just because the author was too lazy to individually address them.
Back to the submission guidelines: Linda Glaz and I did a survey of agents and editors a while back for an “editor and agent pet peeves” course that we offer at conferences. The number one pet peeve was not following the submission guidelines. A number of things in submissions can be a problem, but most of them can be avoided by looking up and following those guidelines when making a submission.
Can more than one agent or editor be contacted at a time? Absolutely, as long as we are smart and courteous. And in looking at those guidelines, please note that some agents/editors want to be informed if it is a simultaneous submission. Most of us just assume that it is.