Last time I was here, I wrote about deal breakers, things authors can do to ensure they don’t get a full request or a contract offer. Today, I’m going to talk a bit about what happens when an editor sends that much anticipated email: Please send me the full!
I can already hear the gasps and the jaws hitting the floor. But…what do you mean, Kara? If an editor asks for the full, you email it!
And you’d be correct.
Unfortunately, that often doesn’t happen. Yes, I know. Hard to believe, right? Allow me to share the top 3 responses I get when I send a full request, and then I’ll explain why these are very, very bad.
The Cricket Response – This is when my request goes unanswered, and I spend days, weeks, months waiting… The sounds of crickets on my end becomes deafening. I’ve had this happen a total of 4 times this year.
Why is this bad? Well, the obvious reasons are I don’t get to read your manuscript, you lose the chance of possibly getting a contract offer, and it will stick out in my mind. I make a note on my submissions spreadsheet noting the request was ignored, so should you query me in the future, I will remember.
What I expect: Some sort of response. If for whatever reason you’ve decided you don’t want me to consider your manuscript, that’s okay. Just tell me. Tell me you’ve decided to consider other options. Tell me you’ve received another offer you’ve decided to take. Tell me your dog ate your manuscript. I don’t care. But please, tell me something!
The Delayed Response – This is when my request is answered, but it’s delayed. Severely. I understand life happens, things get in the way, and I’m a compassionate, patient person. I’m okay with waiting a week, maybe even two. But when a request finally comes in a month, two months later, I get a tad annoyed.
Why is this bad? I read a LOT of submissions, and it takes something really special to grab my attention. So when I request and have to wait, I lose whatever enthusiasm I had for your manuscript. I have to spend extra time going back and re-reading the initial sample chapters.
What I expect: Some sort of response. I know, in this instance, it can be difficult depending on what’s going on to prevent you from sending your manuscript. But I have gotten emails in the past that have simply said: “I’m away from my computer and/or files at the moment. I’ll send as soon as I return.” And that’s really all I need because I sometimes wonder if the big bad internet has eaten my emails.
The “I’m Revising” Response – Okay, this has to be one of my biggest pet peeves as an editor. I request the full and get an immediate response that goes something like this: “I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my book so far. I’m currently in the middle of making some major revisions. Can I send it to you when I’m finished?”
Why is this bad? It’s a common, well-known industry standard that you do not query a manuscript that’s unfinished. So, when I get this type of reply, I automatically assume you queried me with a book that wasn’t finished. Now I have to decide: Do I want to give you the chance to make revisions and send it, or do I want to politely rescind my offer? I liked your book enough the way it was to want to see more. What guarantees do you have I’ll like the revisions?
What I expect: A manuscript that is finished, polished, and ready to send. If you’re still making “major revisions,” you’re book isn’t finished, polished, and ready to send.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: This is about so much more than just having a really great book. This is a professional industry, one that has certain rules and expectations. I can’t speak for other editors, but I know personally, I scrutinize every single interaction I have with an author. Because I know, if I offer a contract, I’ll have a very close, working relationship with said author. My advice to all querying authors: Think about everything you say and do before you do it. Ask yourself: How will this make me look to this editor? What kind of personal image am I portraying?