A few weeks ago, a client asked the question: how long to hear back from a publisher?
Here’s our email exchange (condensed):
Sue: Thank you for all your help with my proposal. My agent loved it and sent it out to 16 publishers last week. So far we have gotten 3 rejections, and I’m praying for just 12 more (as opposed to 13 more). I so believe in this book, and really want to see it out in the world, so, fingers crossed.
I’ll be in touch to continue our work together once I have a book to write—fingers crossed!
Me: Oh, let’s pray for 4 or 5 more. AUCTION! My intuitive friend says always envision a few more than you want because some part of us often downgrades the envisioning. So, 1 is definitely too few!
Sue: I love that idea—of envisioning more than you want! I always worry about being too greedy with my hopes and dreams—I would be so grateful and overjoyed with just one offer!
Also, I don’t know how this timing works (and of course this is an excellent question for my agent, but I’m trying not to pester her with my anxious questions). I’m worried that if 4 or 5 people wanted it, we would have heard from them already, no?
Deep breaths! This process is not for the faint of heart!!
Me: Not at all. The rejections come in first. When an editor knows it’s not a fit for them, they respond quickly. When they are interested, they bring the proposal to an acquisitions board meeting where the board examines the proposal and decides. The acquisitions editor whom your agent contacted will make a case for the book and lead the group through highlights of the proposal. They may suggest changes so it fits with their audience/vision/etc. or have questions for the author. So there can be some back and forth.
So, if you haven’t heard yet:
a) they may have a full plate and take a little longer to get to it
b) they may not have had the acq meeting yet, or may be waiting until a meeting in the future if there is backlog.
So, it’s a great time to imagine hearing about the auction and imagine which publishers you are most excited about. Go with that feeling of excitment and gratitude. Or act “as if” and begin writing more chapters and really enjoy it. Do fun things to inspire yourself and all that good energy will help.
There’s a P.S. to today’s story. I started this post over a week ago and now the author’s book did go to auction and she got an exciting book deal! So, be patient, keep writing and have fun envisioning your success!
Do you have questions about the publishing process—from writing a book proposal to getting a book deal? Ask away as a comment below.
Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.