Once you’ve submitted your manuscript or proposal to an agency or publisher, time can seem to stand still. Some agents or publishers will get back to you within a few weeks (we make a commitment to respond within 2-3 weeks) and others may take months and months to reply. Here are some ways to cope with the sound of silence:
Don’t stop – keep up the momentum and keep writing. Short pieces, such as articles, short stories or blog postings are a great way to build your experience (and hopefully your profile). Write and submit short pieces to magazines, news sites, prizes, blogs … basically anywhere you might get them published. Receiving positive feedback on these, or having something accepted or win a prize, will do your confidence the world of good. Our literary agency is always looking for writers who work hard, put themselves out there, are persistent at their craft and working to build a profile for themselves.
Start a new writing project. Rejection is easier to handle if you have another novel or nonfiction book on the go. It also demonstrates to agents and publishers that you are a career writer. You don’t have to finish it, but just having something else on the go is a great way to take your mind off the waiting, while also helping to make you a better writer.
Read. Good writers read a lot – in their own genre and beyond.
Rethink rejection. Part of being a writer is receiving rejections. And not all books will find a home. Sometimes an individual just won’t connect with your work. Sometimes they’ll make a judgement about the marketability of your project. Try and use these rejections as a way of learning more about the industry, about your work and about yourself. (And if we send you a rejection, please try and resist the urge to email us with a long dissertation about why we will live to regret it.)
Connect with other writers. Either join a writers’ group or an online network of people who have experienced and understand the submission process.
Be patient and don’t take it personally. Agents, editors and publishers are generally extremely busy and getting through submissions takes time. If, however, it seems like an extremely long time has passed since you made your initial submission, it is fine to send a polite follow-up email (never a phone call).