The entire query process is about waiting. First you send the query and then you wait. And wait. And wait. If you get a request, you send your material and wait again. It’s all about patience and well, honestly, keeping yourself distracted so you don’t go crazy.
But what if you’ve been waiting longer than usual? Now I’m not talking 3-4 weeks. Most agencies quote on their websites they need at least 6-8 weeks to read queries and/or requested materials. Some require more. Make sure you check the agency’s website before sending that nudge.
Yet if you’ve been waiting beyond the specified time, there are certain procedures you should follow in order to follow-up with the requesting agent. First, above all, act professional. Send them an email (preferably within the email request chain) and confirm they have received your materials. Then politely inquire as to when you can expect a reply.
I’ve been in this situation before and have had success with nudging. In almost every email I sent to an agent, I received a reply within at least a week. So how do you word such an email? I used the following format which came from agent, Bree Ogden in a great post she did for Lit Reactor:
I’m writing to check on the status of my manuscript [title] sent to you on [date]. I understand you are very busy; I just wanted to make sure it arrived safely in your inbox. Thank you again for your interest in my work. I look forward to hearing from you.
Simple and to the point. You don’t need to go into great detail about your manuscript, but you do need to be straightforward about what information you are requesting from the agent.
Let’s be clear here: this is in regards to requested materials. DO NOT nudge on a query. The only reason you should follow-up on a query is if the agency has a reply policy. If they state they will respond to ALL received queries, and you haven’t heard back, then it is okay to resend the query. BUT that is only in the case where the agency has SPECIFICALLY stated this policy on their submission page.
What if you don’t hear back right away from the nudge? I’d recommend giving the agent at least two weeks to reply. If you don’t hear anything, I’d send one more nudge. After that, unfortunately if it’s radio silence, I would assume the agent is passing.
The key here again is to stay professional. Many agents are not only juggling clients and conference obligations, but submissions to editors, as well as reading NUMEROUS manuscripts (not only from you but other aspiring writers). It’s hard to wait, believe me I understand, but publishing is all about waiting and PATIENCE (tons of patience). Hang in there, work on something new and cross your fingers that your email soon “dings” with great news!
Next up in the QUERY 101 series: A special guest post by agent, Pooja Menon, on handling “The Call.”