Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The waiting game

"Dear Editor,

"I'm so terribly sorry to take time out of your busy schedule. I know how much time these things take. I'm writing to apologise for wasting so much of your time this last year with emails chasing up a submission.

"I sent my partial in August of last year. Just in case you don't get round to reading this letter until after the new year (I know how these things pile up), I'm referring to August 2007. At the time of writing, that's nearly fifteen months ago. I do understand that as an unsolicited, unagented submission, it will have gone to the bottom of the heap. Gosh, you must have a really big slush pile if it takes more than fifteen months to get through!

"Just to make sure it had arrived, what with the postal strikes last year, I emailed in January and a very nice lady replied that she'd found it and was very sorry you'd all got behind. She mentioned a targeted response time of 3-4 months, so I thanked her and waited.

"Later, I realised my mistake. She meant 3-4 months from the time I emailed. However, when no response had arrived by August--seven months after my email and twelve after my submission--I emailed again. After a month, I realised my email must have got lost in cyberspace, and emailed once more. It's a good job emails are free!

"She replied to my August email--phew, it hadn't got lost--two months later. Well, then I realised how very busy you all must be, if it takes two months to reply to an email! This time she said that the submission had been logged, which is very efficient, but that no decision had been confirmed. She was quite surprised that by now it had been a year (well, over a year, but I didn't feel a correction would be polite), and promised to get back to me soon.

"I began to wonder if I'd made a mistake sending my story to you in the first place. Perhaps you'd stopped acquiring? But no, several authors of my acquaintance had recently sold books to you. I decided to keep on waiting politely; after all, with all these new books to edit, you must be very, very busy.

"Finally, thinking over the nice lady's surprise at a waiting time of one year, I realised my big mistake. The targeted response time isn't 3-4 months, but 34 months! No wonder she was surprised that I was anxious over a wait of just over one year!

"Once again, I'm so sorry to have wasted your time emailing repeatedly. I feel like such a fool for my anxiety over a stretch of time that's barely a third of what I should be expecting!

"Yours, a not-at-all-anxious author.

"PS: just so my next submission isn't terribly passe, I'm revising it to include rocket cars, which I assume will be the norm by the time you read it."

(No, this isn't my letter. I'm too busy revising a book an editor has actually read, to write to publishers who lose submissions)


  1. Brilliant letter, K8. Perhaps you're right about not sending it, though. Shame.

  2. Yes, I'm not sure it would entirely engender good will. Still, I felt better for writing it!