Pitching is just the first step. When you’ve sent in your query material (following all guidelines like a good author), you’ve still got a tumultuous road ahead. Some agents/publishers involved in pitch contests want full manuscripts right off. Others start with query letters and the first five (pages, chapters).
Now is not the time to panic. They like your idea, and you’ve sent them the appropriate material. Great! But what do you do now?
Check out their usual submission guidelines if they have them available. Note: if they’re genuinely good, this should be easy to find on their website. Some will have a section telling you how long a query, partial, and full usually take. If they do, note this somewhere. Don’t worry until after that time has come and gone. If you bother them before that, it won’t really help you.
If the time passes, give them a polite nudge just to get. However, look at their social media pages first. They might have posted that they were behind or have a counter of what date they’re up to in their inbox. If they have that counter, don’t email unless they have passed your submission date. Otherwise, they’ll either refer you to the counter or tell you just what it says.
What if the counter isn’t there? What is the date has come and gone? Again, just a polite nudge with such in the subject bar. If they don’t respond in a few weeks, nudge again, but remain polite.
On the other end, you send your material in and WAM! There is a request for more in your inbox within a few minutes. You send the more. Either they get back on this just as fast (which is unlikely if it’s a full) or they take some time. Both are good. The fast response earns you a pat on the back because they had a strong, positive reaction to your material. Even if the next part takes longer, that reaction will stick with them. Even if it doesn’t lead to an offer, you’ll likely get a personalized rejection with areas to fix and possibly a request for a resubmission after the requested edits have been done.
Okay, but what if you went through the query, the partial, and you’re on the full. The deadline isn’t in sight, and suddenly, a wild offer appears! You’re elated. You’re horrified. A contract is a huge and exciting step, but there are so many ifs.
What if someone else has a query/partial/full for the book? Assuming neither party asked for an exclusive, you’re in the clear. Even if they did, you are well within your rights to refuse.
If you have an offer on the table and someone else has material, what do you do?
Simple, you e-mail the other individual and generally give them a week. Publishers and agents expect you to take time to mull contracts over. If you want, e-mail the offering party and tell them you’d like X amount of time to look over the contract and have your lawyer view it (more on this in a latter post).
Tell the other parties of the offer and the timeline. They’ll either get back to you or they won’t. If they don’t, they probably weren’t a good match anyway.
Pitching has its ups and downs. If you make it through the haze to a decent offer, congratulations. If you’re still in the process, don’t worry. It takes time. It takes patience.