One things writers struggle with is when to follow up with an agent or editor after that person has requested a manuscript. I’m going to share a few general recommendations. Keep in mind that I’m the type who tends to err on the conservative side of this. I don’t want professionals in the publishing world to think that I’m a needy pest. I’m very fortunate to be represented by the fabulous Erin Murphy right now, so I don’t have to deal with follow-ups in the book market, but I still have to do some occasional checks on magazine pieces.
If someone tells you that they have a response time of three months, tack on an additional two to four weeks before you try to make contact. Unexpected things can come up whether it’s negotiating contracts or putting a fall list to bed. But let’s say that someone has indicated that she plans to get back to you in a few days. Then it would be perfectly acceptable to email back in a week with a short, businesslike check.
If someone has reached out to you with email, you may email back. Otherwise, go the snail-mail route.
There are exceptions to this rule. If you have had a change in contact information like phone number, email address, or regular address, it is wise to send an update.
A good friend of mine did this recently. An editor had been considering a manuscript for at least three months. That used to be the industry standard. It just happened that she was changing email addresses. The editor had initiatied the email exchange, so my friend carefully crafted a seven-line email. She inquired after the status of her project, shared the change of email, and shared a few very funny details about the current project that she’s working on. The editor wrote back with an update on the project under consideration and invited my friend to send the other project along when it’s ready to show.