submission is submission is submission....not

Ms. S,

I am in need of your advice.

My agent began the submission process for my novel last September. The last time I spoke to my agent was mid-December when I called to see if there was any news regarding my manuscript. At that time, I was told it was being shopped and it had submitted to a couple of editors that it should appeal to. I've been told for new authors the submission process can be time-consuming. My agent also mentioned that since it was near the holiday he didn't expect to hear anything immediately. He said that he should have a better indication by mid-January. He said he didn't want me to get impatient and that I should keep working on my second book.

I haven't heard from him since that phone call. It's now mid-March. I really don't know how long the typical submission process takes and I don't necessarily want to be a pest of a client, however, I am interested in an update. Do you think I should give him another call? I'm a bit hesitant based on his comment about not getting impatient and the generally accepted trend of not calling an agent just to check-in. It's a catch 22. You are supposed to have access to your agent but they also say that you should not call just to check on the submission process.

Please let me know what you think I should do.

You're confusing two concepts of submission process. The first one, where you aren't supposed to call, write, or even breathe in the direction of Snark Central lest we hurl invectives upon your noggin is the query/submission/are we right for each other process.

The submission process to editors wherein you are a living breathing client with an honest to pete agent...well, that's different. Even the famously coldhearted misanthropic Miss Snark would expect to check in with her authors once a month. It might take the form of an email but you'd hear from me. And if you called, that's not a problem at all. You're a client, we've established a business releationship, we're working on the same team.

A client who asks me for an update gets about a five second turn around between opening the email and sending a reply cause I have a date base of who/what/when/where/comments that I can send with two clicks of the mouse. Pretty much any other agent can do that too.

Yes you can call. Yes you can email. Here, in case you're hesitant is some text you can cut and paste.

Dear Agent:

Get off your slacker ass and tell me what you've done. September to March is six months and I want to know who's seen this novel and what they've said about it. Now is fine.

Love and kisses,


Anonymous said...

MS--If the writer is a former client, the rules re. non-contact while you read a solicited manuscript are relaxed, right?

Anonymous said...

It's been longer than that for me. I'm not sure I want to hear, "X, Y, and Z liked it BUT..." month in and month out. He won't sell it and forget to call me.

Anonymous said...

Anon #2:

No, the agent probably won't sell it and forget to call you. But my agent had rejections on all of a (small) batch of submissions, and hadn't bothered to let me know three weeks after the last one came in. And she hadn't sent it out anywhere new. I wonder when I would have been informed?

I now make it a practice to e-mail once a month just to check in. Unlike Miss Snark, my agent does not have a practice of keeping clients updated on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...


No, you DEFINITELY want to hear what editors are saying about your book. What if many have said the same thing: for example, they all love your writing, but feel the ending doesn't work (too flat, or whatever), you have the opportunity to change it, and let your agent submit a re-written version for the next round. This of course depends on your agent's cooperation, but without seeing comments from editors as they come back, you're depriving yourself of a chance for selling the thing. The work doesn't stop once you find an agent, if you're serious about publication.

Some agents like Miss Snark won't send you rejections unless you ask, but you should ask. They're always helpful, and sometimes can even give you a boost, despite being a rejection.