Why Are You Taking so Long with My Manuscript?

This is a brief follow-up to my earlier post, Why I Rejected Your Manuscript.

Recently I’ve heard this question a few times. In the early days of Energion Publications this wasn’t a problem. We were evaluating one manuscript at a time, and we had more open slots in the schedule than we had manuscripts.

So what takes up all the time when a manuscript waits weeks or months before acceptance or rejection?

First, if your manuscript is hanging around here, be encouraged. At least it made the first cut. I can reject a manuscript in as little as five minutes, including writing the rejection notice. If I start reading your manuscript and realize I will need to offer my copy editor a bonus in order to get him to read it, you’re going to hear from me immediately and very briefly. If I find that your manuscript simply doesn’t fit our mission, I can reject it very quickly.

But if I think your manuscript has potential, then I’m going to need more time. I may need to get it evaluated by people with more expertise in your subject than I have. I’ll want people to check it for marketability. All of this takes time.

If it makes it past all that, I still need to find a slot in the schedule, and this takes the most time of all. When we schedule, we have a list of manuscripts we’d like to publish, and we try to fit them into the production time available. When can we get the cover designed? Who will do the layout and when? When should this book be published? Is it seasonal? Is it time sensitive?

At this point a manuscript might also lose simply because we have too much else competing for the time. We will reject a manuscript not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because we can’t work it into our schedule at the appropriate time.

We can’t predict how long this process will take, because we gather many proposals at once and then work out priorities.

You, as an author, are interested in your one manuscript. Authors often ask me questions that reveal their focus. “My manuscript is short,” an author tells me. “Surely it can’t take you this long to read it.” My answer? “It’s still in my inbox.”

So now comes the critical question: How soon and how often should you contact a publisher regarding your manuscript? I can only answer this for myself. It’s OK to query me and make sure your manuscript made it a couple of weeks after you sent the manuscript. After that, I don’t mind hearing from you around once a month. I’m not terribly annoyed at more frequent contact. I’m sympathetic. But more frequent contact won’t do you any good.

I also don’t mind simultaneous submissions. Just make sure that you pay attention to the requirements of other publishers you submit to.

In a nutshell: Manuscript submission requires patience!


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