One of the hardest parts of freelancing is the waiting.
Some editors (publishers or clients too) get back to you quickly. With email or phone queries, you can often know almost instantaneously whether or not they have accepted your query or submission. Those are the best case scenarios. In other cases, the wait seems to stretch on and on. This can be frustrating, especially if you would like to submit to others if this person rejects your query. Here are a few tips for getting a reply.
When has the Editor taken too long to respond?
For an unsolicited submission, the standard wait time for a response is two to three months. These times apply to most major and minor publishers such as magazines and book publishers. Literary publications, as well as film and television production companies usually take longer. Give them four months. Blog sites are much faster, especially smaller sites. For a blog or web article, two weeks is plenty of time to wait for a response.
How should you get in touch with them?
The most direct way to get an answer from an editor is to call them. This takes only a moment and can settle the matter quickly. Email is less intrusive, but also less effective. Regular mail should be used only for a publication that doesn’t give you other options.
What should you say to the editor?
Be brief and polite. Tell them your name and the name of the article/story/query/script. Let them know when you submitted it and ask what them whether or not they have made a decision. Your request should sound something like this:
Hi, my name is John Hewitt. I sent you an article query titled, Death to Soccer. I haven’t heard back from you and I just wanted to know if your received it and if it is still under consideration.
Note: If they say they didn’t get the submission, send it again.
What if the editor I want isn’t available?
If you call and get a secretary/assistant or voicemail, give them the same information that you would give the editor directly. Ask them to get back to you and follow up with an email if possible. If you get no response, follow up with another call in three more business days.
What should I do if I can’t get a response?
If you make repeated attempts to get a status update and they don’t give you one, move on. Feel free to submit to a new publication. You don’t have to formally withdraw your submission. They still might move forward, but there is no reason to expect it. On the off chance that they approve your article after another publication does, explain to them that you had tried to get a status update but couldn’t, and had to move on. It is an uncomfortable situation, but it isn’t your fault.
What should I do if the editor asks for more time?
Feel free to give them a reasonable but specific amount of time to consider your query. Ask them if they can get back to you in another two weeks, or whatever time frame you are comfortable with. If they don’t respond after that amount of time, check in with them again.