by Karen Ball
So we’ve considered three of the four BPs of attracting the attention of an agent or editor. BP number one was “Be Professional.” Number two was “Be Passionate.” The third BP was “Be Plugged In.“ I’ve loved the discussion for each one, and look forward to reading what you think of this last BP. Especially since I think this is the hardest one for us. We writers are so focused on learning and growing, on doing what we’ve learned to do as we study the craft and market. We’re designed for doing. But this last BP is a reminder that sometimes, the only—and best–thing we can do, is…
BP#4: Be Patient
We know it’s hard on you, and we understand if you get frustrated. But the reality in today’s publishing climate is that things can take longer than ever before. Yes, we know how important timely responses are. But with all the shifts in the market, our focus has to rest more and more on those clients and authors we already have contracted. Which means reviewing proposals has had to take a backseat. We dislike that too, especially when we’ve got a huge backlog. And we’re doing all we can to get to the proposals and respond. But you can probably expect a few months minimum for evaluation from agents or editors (sometimes longer for editors). Even if you have a connection with the agent or editor, it may take that long for your editor to get to it. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you or your work. It just means we’re doing what we have to as things continue to shift.
Here are a few tips from agents and editors to help you as you wait:
- When to email the agent/editor as you wait:
- If another agent/editor expresses interest, as in “Please send me the full manuscript” or “Let’s set up a phone call,” it’s a good idea to let the other agents/editors know. For one thing, that can often jump your proposal to the front of the line. For another, it’s just courteous to let them know of any activity.
- If you’ve waited 2-3 months with no response, a brief email of inquiry is OK. Sometimes company spam filters snag emails before they reach us, so a “Just checking” email lets us know to go back and be sure what you sent actually arrived.
- If the agent/editor gave you a date for a response, and you’ve gone past it by more than a week, a brief email of inquiry is OK. Just be straightforward: “Really appreciate you looking at my proposal. Wondering if you have a revised response date for me?”
- Keep working on your platform. The more you improve it, the more you expand your reach and readership, the better it is for everyone.
- Keep working on your projects. Don’t let the proposal you sent out become your only focus. Keep refining your craft on the project you sent out, and keep working on your other projects as well. That way, if you receive a no thanks on your proposal, you’re ready to send out the next project. It’s all about perseverance.
So there you have it. Follow these ideas and tips from agents and editors, and you’re far more likely to attract an agent’s or editor’s attention—in a good way!