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Be a Follower
by Kathryn Lay
You wait and watch the mailbox, hoping to hear
news on that manuscript that has seemed to disappear in some unknown sinkhole in
the publishing world.
When and how should you follow-up on a
manuscript? What is the best approach? Will it bring about a sale or a faster
Look over the information you have about the
magazine or book publisher. Does it give a response time? Double it. Editors are
inundated with piles of manuscripts, contracted manuscripts to edit and get
ready for publication, writers and authors to work with, and meetings to attend.
More and more manuscripts are filling slush piles. Expect it to take longer than
originally stated. Often, if they are seriously considering your piece, it will
take longer to discuss it with other editors or staff members and make a
So when should you give a little
If I havent heard back on a project within a
reasonable time (twice the expected time), I write a polite note reminding the
editor that I sent the manuscript (giving the title) to them on a specific date
and ask if I can get an update on the status. I send along a self-addressed
stamped postcard with this information:
(Title of manuscript in upper left
___________ Manuscript still under
___________ Manuscript has been
This way, they need little more to do than check
the appropriate box and make a comment and return it.
Sometimes, this brings a quicker rejection. I
dont believe the follow-up CAUSED the rejection, only got the editor to make a
decision or get it back in the mail. That way, I can stop waiting and wondering,
and resend it out again.
Many times, Ive received a quicker sale,
prompting the editor to review it and make a decision.
What happens if you send the follow-up and still
dont get a response?
Give it another 30 days before sending a second
follow-up, reminding the editor how long they have had the manuscript. After 30
more days, write a polite note removing the manuscript from
I waited on one manuscript at a magazine for
almost six months before sending a follow-up. I really wanted to be published
there and didnt want to rock the boat. I waited another month before sending
another follow-up. Still no response. After my third follow-up, I got a note
back that they didnt remember receiving the manuscript and would I care to send
By then I was upset and yes, I did care and no I
didnt resend it.
Nearly four months later, I received a phone
call from the editor of the magazine saying that she found the manuscript on her
desk and was it still available? It was, and they published it. But I have
learned my lesson about this publication. I have sent more manuscripts, but I
only give them three months before I send it elsewhere.
This is your career, your work. Dont be afraid
to check on it. Ive known writers to let book manuscripts sit with editors as
long as 2 or 3 years without following up. Be not afraid!
Keep accurate records of your manuscript
whereabouts. Try keeping a follow-up calendar. Write the name of the manuscript
and who has it on the date you have decided to follow-up.
© Copyright 2000, Kathryn Lay
Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through firstname.lastname@example.org
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