Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wait

Hello Rejecter,

On average how long does it take for a publishing house to determine a book is to be published or rejected? I have one out to a publisher over a year and no response. I sent a follow up with an additional submission two months ago and still haven’t heard back. Any idea of an average time frame allotted?

Let me give a more complete answer than just answering your question about publishers.

(1) Unsolicited manuscript to publisher - This is a long wait. Sometimes a year or more at the worst places. Publishers will post times on their website and then not keep to them, and may not respond at all. Check with the publisher - you can even call and ask how long the response time is, but don't bother them by pitching your novel on the phone.

(2) Unsolicited query to agent - If you're going to hear back at all, the time is 1-2 weeks, maybe 3 if it's by mail. Sometime it can be instantaneous with an e-query, if the agent's assistant is just sitting in front of the computer when it comes in. I only am in the office about once a week (thanks, economy!) so most of the queries get done whatever day I'm in, so some people get instant replies and some people have to wait a few days for e-queries.

(3) Unsolicited manuscript to an agent - Don't do this.

(4) Agent sends the manuscript to a publisher - One to two months. A good agent will pitch the book to a bunch of editors they know, see who's interested, then send the book in and give a "closing date." Then, knowing the industry, they'll bug the editor politely a bunch of times until the closing date, then continuing bugging and the replies will float in over the next few weeks. You're not involved in this part of the process, though a good agent will keep you posted.