Sometimes, it seems that writers are over-anxious in their follow-up methods after submitting to an agent or editor. Here’s some basic guidelines to make sure your follow-up is professional and effective.

When and how not to follow up:

Don’t follow-up on a query letter you submitted last week. Unfortunately, it may still be in its original envelope. More than likely though, it’s open and in the query box, amist a ton of queries that came in before it. Following up on a query that’s only a week or two old looks very unprofessional. (Unless their guidelines state that they will respond in a week or two… which is very optomistic!)

Don’t follow-up a week after you send your requested partial. It may be requested, but a week is still too soon to ask an editor or agent’s opinion. I know it’s hard to stay away from the “send” button because you’re excited, but you want the agent or editor to contact you first. By following up too soon, you may give the impression that you don’t understand the business as well as you could.

Please don’t follow-up by writing an email that assumes the answer is ‘no.’ It is extremely difficult to write that kind of email and not have it look snarky in print, even if that wasn’t your intention.

When and how to follow-up:

Usually, when an agent or editor requests a partial exclusively, they’ll give you an approximate time frame that they’ll need to consider your work. When this time period has elapsed (and not 12:01 AM on the day of), it’s best to send a professional, polite follow-up email. For example:

Dear Agent/Editor:

I was curious if you’ve had a chance to look at my novel, AWESOME TITLE HERE, which I sent to you exclusively on (date)? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Sincerely, (or Thanks!)
Author

For query letters, following up is appropriate after the agency’s/publisher’s announced estimated reading time has elapsed.

Agencies assume that you’re sending out query letters multiply, but if you’ve secured representation, you should follow-up with any other outstanding submissions. That email could look like:

Dear Agent/Editor:

I’m writing to inform you that I have secured representation for my manuscript, EVEN AWESOME-ER TITLE HERE, which I queried you about on DATE. Would you please pull my letter from consideration? Thank you for your time!

Sincerely,
Author

or, in the case where two people were reading partials and you have accepted representation elsewhere:

Dear Agent:

I hope all is well!

I’ve been offered representation by another agency, and so unfortunately I must withdrawl my submission, AWESOMEST TITLE HERE. I do appreciate your enthusiasm for my work, and want to thank you again for reading.

Cheers,
Author

Or… should you be offered representation by one agent, but the other agent reading your partial is actually the one you prefer (and, of course, they both knew there were two agents reading:

Dear Agent:

I hope all is well!

I’ve been offered representation by the other agent reading AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME, and I was curious if you’d had a chance to look?

Thanks so much!

Cheers,
Author

Hope that was helpful (and awesome!) Any follow-up questions to the follow-up post?

"A surprising gem." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chicken Wants a Nap is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and your favorite independent bookstore!

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