And Then, We Wait . . . and Nudge.

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” – John Steinbeck

Over the past year, I’ve slowly worked through my list of small or independent traditional publishers who do not require agents. I created this list using and I began with publishers who only require queries, then moved to those who wanted proposals and the full manuscript.

With each round of submissions, I received feedback. I revised then sent out more. Some publishers who suggested revisions asked to see the book after I made changes. I have sent those out as well.

This month I sent out the remaining submissions including the last set by snail mail. I had saved those for last because, quite frankly, they are painful. Now, I wait.

And, I nudge.

There are two schools of thought on nudging. Some folks think it’s a waste of time and annoys the publisher (or agent). I disagree. To my thinking, and based on the advice of my friends in publishing, emails get lost and editors (or agents) appreciate a nudge to remind them of a project they might have forgotten. I’ve had one editor say she never received my original submission. She still rejected it, but at least she saw it.

For those of you thinking of nudging, here are the guidelines I use:

1. First, recheck the publisher’s submission guidelines to make sure they don’t hate nudges!

2. If you’ve sent a query and have heard nothing in three or four months (again, check the submission guidelines for this), nudge. Things really do fall through the cracks or wind up in the spam filter.

3. If one editor offers to publish your book (or an agent offers to represent you), but there are other editors (or agents) you prefer more who still haven’t responded, definitely nudge the one you prefer! This hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m crossing my fingers!

4. If the publisher (or agent) requested the partial or full manuscript, use the same guidelines as above.

5. If you have substantially revised the manuscript, nudge nudge nudge! This is my current position. I’m sending follow-up emails with the revised material.

6. And finally, if you receive a rejection, do not follow up unless the rejection comes after you have made revisions based on the editor’s feedback. And even then, I would hesitate to ask for additional feedback. Editors (and agents) are insanely busy. You will write more books. Do not risk alienating an editor or agent you might want to query with a future project.

So, how do you nudge?

I usually forward the original email I sent, but I change the subject line to read, “Follow-up on (query/submission/proposal)” with the book’s title in the subject line. Mine reads, “Follow-Up on Query: Twenty-Six Point Freaking Two.” Then, above the forwarded material, I write, “I’m following up to see if you’ve had an opportunity to look over the materials I sent on X date. I know how easy it is for emails to get lost. Thank you for your time.” If the material has been revised, I will mention that and attach it. Brief. To the point. Boom.

And then, I go do something else, you know, like write another book!

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