Three Month Check-Up

What does August bring, other than triple digit temperatures?  Another post-conference check-up, of course!

At this point, you should already have fulfilled your submission requests from the conference.  If you are still awaiting responses, check your submission dates and see if it is time to send a gentle nudge. (You can learn more about this here.)

The reality for most is that responses have already been received.  If you are reading this, the response was probably not an offer from an agent. (If you did receive an offer- WAY TO GO! Please let us know – we’d love to profile you on the blog.) 

You slaved for months (years?) on your masterpiece, put it out there in the world and got stomped on.  There is obviously no choice but to give up and lose yourself in watching all six seasons of Mad Men on Netflix.


Review your correspondence with agents/editors. The clue for your next step lies within.

They requested pages, but declined to see more.

Are your first pages all they can be? Think about where you begin – is it with the story, or with backstory? Ask your critique partners to evaluate your first pages and make them shine. (You do have critique partners, right? Every writer should.)

They responded with “it’s not for me.”

This is a tricky one. It could simply mean that it is good stuff, but they just didn’t make a connection.  It could mean that it is a hot mess.  If you feel like your manuscript is in good shape, then give it a shot with another batch of agents/editors. If you continue to get tepid rejections, stop and take a hard look at your manuscript.

They responded with comments or a referral to a colleague.

Congratulations! You have hit the jackpot.  As we have already discussed, agents/editors are busy people. They do not make money reading queries and commenting on submissions, they make money by selling their clients’ work.  Consider the comments and see how you can incorporate them into your manuscript, or if you should incorporate them.  Consult with your critique partners. Use those comments to build a better book.

A referral? WOW! Send out your query and clearly state that Agent X at Super Agency referred you.

They just let it die on the vine.

Ignoring your submission can sting just as much as a downright rejection. You could spend a lifetime wondering what happened. Don’t. Pick yourself up, dust off and move on.

Are you seeing a theme here? Don’t stop moving.

In addition to querying and submitting, you need to keep writing. Writing, not revising. That means new stuff.  Your not-yet-written book may be what gains you entry into the publishing world and gets this one published.

Continue to study the craft and interact with other writers.  Read books for fun.  Take a day or two to get lost in something that is not about writing. Then get back to it – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

**Don’t forget to take a minute to register for the 2014 DFW Writers’ Conference.

You can secure our early bird rate with just a $50 fully transferable deposit.**

7 thoughts on “Three Month Check-Up

  1. As you know, I signed with Alice Speilburg after meeting her at the conference. I posted about it on my blog today.

    1. That is a very good question!

      If it is more than a month beyond when you expected to hear from them, and you haven’t received a response from your gentle nudge, I think it is safe to let them go. Realistically, you may not want to do business with this person anyway.

      Before everyone goes crazy on me– the relationship between an author and an agent/editor is one built on trust and respect. If someone doesn’t meet (self-imposed) deadlines and doesn’t respond to your nudge, then they don’t respect you and you can’t trust them. They may have a really good reason (alien abduction) when they contact you six months later with an offer of representation. If they don’t, then remember what you felt like when you spent every day wondering if they would get in touch and ask yourself if that is what you want for the remainder of your publishing journey.

      Eventually, when you are offered representation from someone else, you will need to notify the non-responder. If you wish, you can do it now and make a clean cut. Just a simple “Thanks for taking time to review XYZ. At this time, I must pull it from consideration. Thanks.”

      Don’t give up – it is just like finding a spouse, a job, a house – the perfect one is out there. Save yourself years of heartache by taking your time finding the right one to begin with. ;-)

      1. Thanks for your response! Both said they were “a few months” behind, and it’s been three-going-on-four months since I submitted requested manuscripts. Does that timeline fit your definition?

  2. First of all, I accidentally “thumbs downed” your reply. I’m an idiot.

    If they have responded at all, I think you can keep them in the loop for a bit longer. Take a look at some of the writers’ resources (QueryTracker, Absolute Write, NaNoWriMo forums) and see what other people are reporting for response times. You may find that they really are just that far behind, but they are regularly reading and responding. (I think I know who one of the people is and know that he/she had some things going on this summer that put he/she way behind schedule. This is one of those alien abduction exceptions.) (NB: It was not an actual alien abduction. If you follow he/she on Twitter, you know. If you don’t, it’s not the same person.)

    If these are not exclusive submissions, why not go ahead and query others? Just make sure you let them know if anyone else requests a full.

    Think about why you would like an offer from the person currently holding your manuscript. Have you researched and feel like they are the very best match out of everyone out there? Or, did they seem like a good enough choice and they asked to see it? Fight a little harder for the former, let it go if it is the latter.

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