L.D. asked some etiquette questions that may be of help to everyone:
– How long do you wait before following up with an editor/agent once you’ve sent your requested manuscript to the editor/agent?
– If you’ve already sent the proposal to the editor and they’re preparing to present it to the editorial board, but you have an article published from a highly respected magazine, do you send in an updated proposal to the editor with the new article published? Or are several emails to the editor over a course of a few months annoying?
– If you have been through your proposal more times than you can count and also had someone else edit it, but after submitting it you notice some grammatical mistakes, do you submit a corrected version or is that irritating?
How long before giving the “nudge” is a common question and a good one. If the guidelines say eight weeks, then wait eight weeks. I’ve had people call my office 48 hours after sending their proposal asking if I’d read it yet. That is not a good idea. The issue for us is sheer numbers. The priority in the agency is always “client business first”; then if there is available time, we can dip into the pool of proposals and manuscripts.
If it is a full manuscript of 60,000-100,000 words, it is going to take even longer as it is a huge time commitment to work through an entire book.
If you get another publishing credit during the wait, there is no need to bring it up with the editor/agent. If your manuscript is strong enough, it will survive scrutiny. Another byline won’t suddenly make the proposed manuscript look better.
As for finding errors? That is unfortunate. But not uncommon. All you can do is hope Steve Laube is reading it because he is a terrible proofreader and will never see them! Minor errors are always found in manuscripts. It is part of the editorial process. Therefore, stay confident in the craft of the manuscript.
The problem again is sheer numbers. Think of it on the editor/agent side. Let’s say you sent your material via email on 11/16. Then on 12/11 you discover the mistake you want to correct. If you send a new version, you are asking the recipient to find the previous email and delete it, which technically could mean you’ve lost your place in line. In those four weeks, that editor/agent may have received more than 200 proposals and manuscripts. Your request to replace one is asking them to search and spend valuable time. I don’t recommend it.
But not all editors/agents are alike. Some are not grumpy like me and may welcome your communication. But some would prefer an unimpeded look at your work.
The challenge with etiquette is that there are no hard and fast “rules,” only opinions and preferences that are never written down. My recommendation is to put yourself behind the editor’s or agent’s desk and imagine if they would want to receive your updates and how meaningful they would be. A lot can also depend on your relationship with that editor/agent. A long friendship will have an open door. A one-time meeting in the hallway at a writers conference is still nice, but the friendship has not had time to flourish.
Thanks, L.D., for the great questions!