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How to Successfully Follow-Up on Submissions

Tom Petty wasn’t kidding when he said that waiting is the hardest part. Getting a request on a manuscript is a thrilling moment for every author, and then comes the long wait for a reply, a wait that usually has absolutely nothing to do with your material and everything to do with what the agent has on her plate that day.

When the waiting becomes too unbearable and its time to follow-up on your submission how can you do so in the most effective way possible? Here are some quick and easy tips.

1. Know the agent’s timeframe. Most agents will post expected response times on their websites. If they say 6-8 weeks, give them a week breather. In other words, don’t follow-up until week 9.

2. Stick to the email trail. The easiest way for an agent to remember you and your work is by responding in the original email trail. You can easily change the subject header if you’d like, but this also puts the material you originally sent, and your query, front and center.

3. Just the facts, ma’am. Simple is best. Agents don’t need a long-winded list of reasons you’re following up. They just need to know when you sent it, the title, and your original blurb (to help jog the old memory).

4. Add a few perks. If you have them, give the agent a little information that might tempt her further. No need to name names, but you can let her know that other agents have also requested the material or you’ve won a contest. There’s never any need to supply this information on its own, but since you’re following-up anyway now is a good time.

Smile. You’ll feel better about sending that email if you’re smiling the entire time.

Category: Blog


  1. As an extrovert I always want to chat up everyone. I literally have to sit on my hands to keep myself from keying out any early emails to potential agents who have my materials.

    Waiting can be almost as hard as rejection. Maybe you should do a #practicepatience challenge next! 🙂

  2. Hi Jessica,

    Any suggestions on how to follow up with a MS submission once an agent has it out on submission to editors? I never hear anything except when I initial contact every 3-4 months (!) or so. Should I just assume this particular book is DOA and start on something else?

  3. Urgh. I hate the wait. Being in Australia it means overseas emails come in overnight. So when waiting for a response to something the most nerve wracking time is when I turn on the computer in the mornings. Stomach clench and I open the inbox – it’s that rotten combination of wanting the email to be there but at the same time not wanting to know, lol.

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