Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pitch, wait, wait, wait, follow up

I recently pitched to a publisher at a writer's festival and forgot to ask how the follow-up procedure worked. I left them with a query letter and the first chapter of my novel. What do you suggest the follow-up procedure should be? Should I call after three months if I have not heard anything etc?

Three months is very reasonable but I actually think you don't need to wait that long if it was a letter and a chapter and you met someone - six weeks is enough time. Only call if you have a number for an actual individual - if all you have is a switchboard number, you're probably not going to get through. And the reason for that, in my experience, is that us publishing folks don't like phone calls. We like things in writing (this probably won't come as a surprise). So send an email - if it's to a general email address, mark it for the attention of whomever it was you met, briefly say where you met and what you gave her/him, say that you're following up and that if you haven't heard back within another six weeks, you'll send another note. Keep it short and polite. Don't ask for anything. Don't use any words that could be construed as a complaint that you haven't heard from her/him already. Do not look directly into their eyes. Do not feed the animals. Et cetera.

If you still haven't heard after three months, leave it. In the meantime, you should be querying elsewhere. Unless this publisher asked you for exclusivity they don't expect it, so put some other irons in the fire while you wait.

1 comment:

Lloyd White said...

Do you think the 'put some other irons in the fire while you wait' idea works equally if you are approaching agents for the first time? And what would you consider an appropriate amount of time between the initial approach and a follow up? I'm of the thinking that waiting 6 weeks before following up is appropriate, but just as I suspect is your case I am scared of being labelled as *that* pest author.