How long should a writer wait after sending an agent a query email, bio, and book synopsis? Two weeks ago I sent these to an agent who was recommended to me. So how long do I wait and/or what should I do next?
First, look on the agent’s website for guidelines. If the agency includes guidance regarding response times, they’ll run the gamut from something like “It takes us two months” to “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Well, not really; but they’ll say that they’ll contact you if they are interested. For an applicable, cool video and music earwig, press here. You’re welcome.
If the agency offers no response as a rejection, which I refer to as a passive no, then there’s not much you can do except to accept their lack of a reaction as a decline. I’d give them at least two months to fish or cut bait.
As for agents who try to respond to all queries, which we attempt to do here at our agency, please give us a month before following up. I started to say, “six weeks to two months”; but that’s a long time to wait if your submission simply got lost in cyberspace. And sometimes that does happen. If then we respond to ask for more time, the clock does not start ticking again. In other words, asking us doesn’t put you at the bottom of the pile, where you will have to wait another two months. I try to get back quickly to authors who send me a nudge. I wish I could say, “Within 48 hours,” or some such magical number.
However, sometimes I’ll hold onto a submission I like while I study how the market is moving at that particular point in time. The study can take time. But as an author, you have a right to sign with an agent who moves faster. If you want to work with us, however, we’d appreciate a heads up before you sign on the dotted line with someone else. When another agent moves faster than I do, I make a point of getting back to the author within a few days since another agent is waiting.
What is the longest time you’ve waited to hear from an agent or editor? The shortest?
What words of encouragement can you offer to authors who are waiting?
For the entire series click here: “Your Questions Answered”