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Publishing

When to Follow up With a Literary Agent or Publisher

Oh, it’s a tricky question.

There you are, waiting patiently for your response from the agent/publisher you have contacted, and suddenly, you start to wonder…

Did they receive my email?

Is it professional to chase and ask what they think?

Are they rejecting without letting me know?

And then the other questions start coming. Is it better to know something than nothing? Are you happy sitting in a strange Schrödinger’s cat type scenario, where the possibilities are preferable to the actual (potentially negative) answer?

Well, fear not.

First of all, it is totally normal to have these questions and thoughts, and it’s completely understandable too.

However, though you may be having these thoughts, it does not necessarily mean a follow-up email is appropriate.

In fact, most agents and publishers would be surprised to receive a follow-up email had they not requested to read more of your work after your initial email.

So when is it okay to send a follow-up email?

It is okay to send a follow-up email if a few rules apply:

You have left a good amount of time between the initial email and your follow up email. A week, or even a month, is too short a time (sorry).

If it’s been about three months, then you are in a good time frame, but make sure number 2 applies first…

You have checked the submission page of the company and it doesn’t have a ‘no response caveat’. For example, if they have written something along the lines of ‘If you have not heard from us after two months, you have been unsuccessful’. If this is stated, and you haven’t heard from them, a follow-up email does not need to be sent (as the answer to your request is already implied).

They requested a full manuscript, and you sent it. They will be expecting you to follow up in this scenario, just make sure that you have given them time to read the manuscript.

If you are happy that this is the case, it’s now okay to send that follow up email.

So, what do you say? Well, I find it is best to keep it simple.

For example:

Dear Agent/Publisher (use the actual name!),

I am writing to follow up on my email sent on 9th March 2021, regarding my novel The Follow Up Email. Could provide me with an update on the status of my submission, please?

I appreciate that you are extremely busy, and thank you for taking the time to read my email.

Kind regards,

Hopeful Author (use actual name!)’

As you can see, this email is short, polite, and to the point. I also acknowledge that they are busy people and that their attention is appreciated.

Once you have followed up, wait for a response, and chase no more.

Best of luck!

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