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How to Successfully Follow-Up on Submissions

Our website is pretty clear on how to successfully follow-up on submissions or queries (and when to do so). That being said, it seems that a lot of people are still confused about how to handle a situation when a query or submission has been sitting for months with no response. Of course, most of those people probably don’t read the blog.

Whenever you are contacting an agent to follow-up or notify her of an offer you should always make sure you give as much information as possible (in other words, include your original email). An email that says:

Hey there! A query letter for my novel The Best Book Ever was sent to the attention of Jessica Faust back in October 2015. I am inquiring as to whether or not there is any interest in my novel at Bookends Literary? If you’re taking a pass, Ms. Faust, I thank you for any time or effort you have spent on my work, and I shall move on.

Now you’re expecting me to respond about whether or not I replied, which means, you have to respond and resend the query at which point I need to respond to the query. Wouldn’t this have all been easier if the author had simply sent her note above and included the entire query? Just in case.

The title of your book will rarely ring any bells for an agent. The query and description might. It will also give us a chance to request more or reject right in that moment rather than forcing an exchange.

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13 comments

  1. Thanks Jessica! And I guess for people like me *cough* make sure you used the proper email address in the first. Can’t really respond to something you’ve never even received. ESP? *hangs head*

    Hope you have a fab week!

  2. I have a similar situation. I queried Dream Agent back in the fall of 2015 and she immediately requested the full ms. I sent it off and received a reply that she’d received it. Then I waited with bated breath. And waited. And waited. Her website says she tries to respond to full requests within 4 months, so I gave her time. In March, I sent a polite email (in the same email thread), and asked if she’d gotten to it yet. Silence. We authors have been coached not to pester an agent and risk incurring their wrath, so I’m still waiting while I query other agents. But this is my Dream Agent, so I can’t just let it molder, right? If she’s going to reject it, so be it but I need to know. Should I send her another email in the same thread, include the above paragraph, and remind her that she requested the full? Or should I start a new thread and hope she finds the original one? Should I send the full again or wait until she asks for it? I’ve tried to do everything right, but the uncertainty on this one is killing me.

    1. That’s a tough one. I think what you need to do is reply on the same thread with an updated subject: something like status update & revised manuscript. Request a status update and let her know that you’ve revised considerably if she’d like to see the new version. And at some point you need to let it go too. She might be your dream agent, but she might not live up to the dream if she’s not responding. The other end of this is wait until you have an offer. That’s the perfect time for her to prove whether or not she’s right for you. At that point you let her know you have an offer (in the subject) and a revised manuscript. If she wants to read it she will. If she still doesn’t respond, it just isn’t a good fit.

      1. Thank you, Jessica, for the wise words. That makes sense to me, and that’s what I’ll do. Hopefully she’ll uphold her end. We all know how busy agents are, but that doesn’t cancel the need for common courtesy when we follow their guidelines.

  3. Thank you! I read and enjoy all of your posts. I have a partial out with Kim and am keeping my fingers crossed!

  4. I forgot to mention that in the ensuing months since I queried her I’ve received valuable feedback from other agents and as a result I’ve revised my manuscript considerably. I think it’s better now. Should I mention that in my email? I’d rather she look at the new version than go back and consider the original one.

  5. Oops, I do have a question. Sorry, not trying to bog you down with replies.

    Is there, when querying your agency. any reply of receipt? When I do send again, (to the right email this time) I do NOT want to be pesky or chew my nails to nubs wondering and worrying.

    Thanks. I promise, no, more questions.
    🙂

  6. Isn’t it a little rude, to ask an agent to represent you if you don’t even bother to read their blog? Or is that just me?

    I’m a bit stuck at the moment. I sent my MS to my kindle to read. It’s how I’m used to reading books and it really sounds like a YA/NA type voice and now I don’t know what to do. I can change it to make it fit either age (especially NA) but I don’t know anything about either genre.
    So I’m thinking I have some research to do before I can move forward.

      1. Thanks, Jessica, the more I think about it the more excited I am about the idea. I’ve picked the story up and put it down so many times in the last week or so, and all I keep doing is thinking what I would change and what I would keep.

        The only thing is, what if I’m wrong?

  7. Hollie, I’m assuming from your comment you wrote it as adult? And you think it is your voice that is YA/NA? I’d get a beta reader you trust to read and give their thoughts. To change it to fit YA will take a reasonable rewrite – it isn’t just voice that makes a book adult or YA.

  8. Thanks, AJ, before I went back to school I worked with special needs kids, helping with reading. If I think about it YA is the area I know best, I just didn’t consider writing in that genre. I only read it if I’m reading with the kids.
    I’ve already got the whole series arc reworked in my mind, as well as the mechanics of the first two books.

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