Part of
Margot Finke's of Writing for Children

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Delays - When should you hear back?

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And I said, in response to the original post, to send that tardy publisher a note saying since it was taking so long, she'd be submitting elsewhere, in addition to waiting for feedback from them.

Let me tell you where I'm coming from. I had a manuscript at HarperCollins years ago. The editor loved it. I didn't hear from her for MONTHS and MONTHS but she was fighting for the book the whole time. I mean whole heartedly fighting to get the book published, all those months. I finally heard from her nine months after I'd submitted, asking if she could take it with her to Simon & Schuster where she was going to work. I agreed. She fought for it THERE for months and months longer.

Point is, she wasn't ignoring me, ever. She was fighting for me.

Now, imagine if she finally won the argument, only to find I'd sold it elsewhere. Would she fight so hard for the NEXT book? Probably not. But if I'd said, "Hey, editor, since it's not selling, I'm going to simultaniously submit, just in case your guys say no." At least she'd feel informed, right? I wouldn't burn that bridge.

But if I sold it without even telling her, there could be some damage done to the budding relationship. Indicentally, I did eventually sell it elsewhere. But the editor and I are still friends. I can turn to her anytime for any legitimate reason.

It doesn't take long to TELL an editor you're going to send a manuscript to other houses. So why not error on the side of being polite and informative, just in case? What could it hurt?

One more real story to explain my stance. I talked to an editor friend I know this past January at ALA in Seattle, and this very subject came up. She told me about a writer who had sold a book out from under her without telling her right as she'd FINALLY gotten the green light to publish it. Again, she'd FOUGHT for the book all those months.

She said she understood, that the delay had been a long one. But she also said she wished she'd been informed. Because now she had to go back to the editorial committee, after fighting like a tiger to get a yes, and tell them the book was sold. She looked uninformed because she was uninformed.

You could say, "It's her own fault, she took too long," and she'd probably agree with you. But if an editor loves your work THAT much, is willing to fight for it, isn't she an ally worth keeping? What about the next book? Why not TELL her, if you decide to submit elsewhere?

That editor also told me she thinks writers forget editors are human too. She said she wished she could correct that perception, because they're disappointed when the books they fight for aren't contracted, the same way the writer is. And i think that's worth noting.

So much of this business is about relationship -- personal connection in a professional arena. You can't sell your soul, and you DO have to look out for yourself first. But courtesy never costs that much. It's almost always a good idea.

So I still say, with all due respect, that if it were me, I'd TELL the editor I planned to submit the manuscript elsewhere. That 30 seconds invested seem like a worthwhile insurance policy to me.

Now, back to work for me.