Dear Editor, What is an editor’s normal response time to a submission?

dear-editor-8Dear Editor,

What is an editor’s normal response time to a submission? I sent in my manuscript ten months ago and haven’t heard back. My critique partner received a response within a month. Just curious how this all works.

–Vicki

Dear Vicki,

First of all, I’m sorry that you’ve been waiting ten months for a response. It is our intention to respond in a timely fashion, but sometimes, time gets away with us. There are no fixed rules about turnaround, but here is what we aim to do:

Respond within three months

Different editors have different response goals (beyond the three months), so you have to consider this. But I would venture that three months is a good benchmark, especially if you don’t have an agent to nudge the editor to evaluate the submission sooner.

What should you do if you don’t hear anything after three months?

Don’t be frustrated. Be active.

Contact the editor. I wouldn’t ask openly on Twitter, but a polite, private email works and it’s a reminder that your submission needs to be evaluated. But don’t contact the editor every day or a week after you’ve sent the submission.

In the meantime, work on a different project. This will lessen the anxiety of hearing back.

What does our response time mean?

Usually nothing. Our reading of submissions can be very random. We might have more time-sensitive projects to read before yours. Often editing, meetings, administrative issues will delay reading. Many of us read submissions on our commutes, at night, on weekends. If we respond sooner, it’s just because we read it sooner.

But ten months is a long time to wait and you have a writing career to manage. You should start to ask about the status of your manuscript.

Remember this:

Editors love to read. It’s why we’re in this profession. We want to read your work and, more than anything, we love finding new authors.

Harlequin publishes over 100 books per month. Not only do we want to read your work, we always need new authors. And this involves a lot of reading on a daily basis. Bear in mind that we juggle many projects, all of which go through the phases of production. This takes time.

While we have our constraints, you do have your writing to consider, so we understand your wanting an answer. We appreciate your patience with us and always thank you for your submissions! Keep them coming!

Happy Writing!

Patience & the SYTYCW Team

Ps. If you have a question for Dear Editor, please feel free to write to Patience.

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Comments

  1. Great advice! I waited over a year from Avon Books once. By then the book was published elsewhere. Emails can get Miss filed, so follow up on your work. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to find out the status of an MS, it’s your career.

  2. Marcie R

    I’ve heard to inquire every 3 months (3, 6, 9). Is this still the “standard”?
    Also, is it best to send the inquiry through Submittable since that was how the MS was originally sent? Or use the email address listed on the Submittable home page?
    Thank you.

  3. Suzanne Showalter

    I am a romance writer but have loved all romance since I was a child. I am a 49 yr old wife and mother of 2 grown children. I have a concept, outlined along with my characters and written about 7,000 words. I am not sure how many words that editors consider a chapter but it’s not completely yet. I wanted to know If I should complete the book then submit or only submit several chapters? I’d love for your input and advise. I have been dedicating 3-5 hours a day writing a light hearted romance with content and characters that could expand and branch into several stories. Thanks for your time and advise in advance. Suzanne Showalter

    • Jason B.

      The answer is simply: ALWAYS finish your novel to a perfect polish BEFORE you make submission. You’r getting way ahead of yourself envisioning several more stories and whatnot when you don’t even have the first novel even remotely finished. Publishers want a finished product. I applaud your enthusiasm but don’t focus on your seconds novel before your first is even finished. And not just finished but also edited several times to a perfect polish. Only an amateur sends a publisher a first draft. if you truly love writing and believe in your story then you should have no time giving it the proper loving care.