The Waiting Game

Sometimes waiting for a reply from an editor can be worse than the actual rejection. Once you’ve put your heart and soul into an article, then waiting for an answer can be painful. Depending on the size of the publication and how many submissions they get every day, it usually takes four to eight weeks to receive either an acceptance or a polite rejection . Book manuscripts may take longer.

Sometimes you don’t hear back from a publisher even after several months. It can be slow torture. What should a writer do? Once you understand the reasons for the delay, you can take steps to move the decision along.

First realise that the publication may be overwhelmed with the volume of freelance submissions, especially if they pay their writers very well. Perhaps your ms. slipped to the bottom of the pile. Or maybe an employee just left or is on vacation.

Also remember that a promising query or ms. takes more time than a submission regarded as completely unsuitable. The most promising work is evaluated by more than one editor before a final decision to buy it.

Here is what you can do. After waiting three months to hear back, send a brief note. It’s also possible to call, but editors are very busy people and prefer a written query. A good idea might be to mail a self-addressed postcard to tardy editors, giving a description of the manuscript and a checklist of possible situations such as: I never received your article; I returned it: I haven’t decided yet. Anything to save time for the editor. You could make a postcard humorous – send a 4-line limerick to put a smile on the editor’s face.

If you fail to get any response at all, mail them a registered letter saying you are withdrawing the article from them. Wait a week and submit your work elsewhere.

I try never to send a complete article, but a query letter. In a one-page proposal, I describe the idea and my writing credentials. I tell the editor how soon I will send the completed manuscript if he is interested. And the one thing I never fail to do after an acceptance, is write to say “thank you” and have suggestions for several more articles while the editor still remembers your name and is favorably disposed towards your work.

If I can help you with any writing problems, contact me at the address on About Me. If you have trouble finding my Books, contact me at the same address, and I will make sure you locate them. Happy writing!


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