Follow-up Emails

Lately, I’ve had to send a few follow-up emails, which I hate doing. I’m one to wait well past a publication’s latest response time. I’m sure they get busy time to time, very busy. Still, I’m busy too, but I don’t think I’d be too busy to reply with a “we’re swamped right now, can I get back to you in a week/month or two?” That took about 10 seconds to type.

When I finally do query, it’s very professional, and goes something like this:

Hello Editor,

I submitted my story on (such and such date) and wanted to follow up on its review process. If you are still considering it for publication, please let me know if there is anything I can do – I welcome rewrite requests and edits for publication. If you have decided to pass, please let me know, and I thank you for your time in reviewing my work.

Erin Cole

To date, three different publications have not responded to follow-up emails that are now three weeks out (I’ve double checked that email addresses are correct), so what gives?? Am I to assume they’ve gone defunct, when two of them clearly haven’t? Are they the type of publications that choose not to respond to rejects (or emails from future rejects) … not even with form rejections/emails? That takes about 5 seconds. “You’re a loser, go away.” Also 5 seconds.

I hate withdrawing stories, especially with publications I like. Do I follow-up again and risk being pesky? Dear fellow writers, what’s your advice? What would you do?

21 thoughts on “Follow-up Emails”

  1. Hi Erin,
    Nice site. I really believe that publishers and editors should respond when a writer sends their hard work. Even if it’s an automatic response. Remember the people they are neglecting may be the author they should have given a chance. Best of luck to everyone that bleeds ink.


  2. That’s happened to me too, (well, actually I never even sent it! It was still in my draft folder) which is why I double check I’ve got the email right before I query/withdraw, and as Deborah does, resend the MS with the query email.


  3. One follow up I made recently revealed that they’d never received my submission – turns out I had mistyped the email address which was valid but unused (so didn’t bounce back).


  4. Well I have fortitude in numbers! You also bring up a very good point, Rhonda. If work finally is accepted by said publishers, the publishing journey may be just as frustrating. Thanks for commenting.


  5. I feel your pain too. I think you’ve got a lot of great feedback here, and I agree with it. For me, personally, it’s always an individual decision but I tend to err on the side of withdrawing my work (on the assumption that working with those publishers is going to be a pain in my butt) rather than keeping it with them indefinitely…

    But I do tend to wait, like you, long past Duotrope tells me to query, and then give them several weeks to reply before withdrawing.


  6. It’s rare for me to leave a submission with a market after a year. As Milo says, if it’s a pro zine, then OK. I might even go up to 18 months. After that it’s beyond a joke and I move on. It’s painful when you think the market was right, but I generally find there’s another market that also feels right – or even better.


  7. It’s still true for others, though Deborah. I see a lot of past 365 day rejections on Duotrope all the time. I had one two years ago to Blue Lake Review.


  8. Were those rejections one year after a follow-up query? I imagine’s Jay Lake’s were to pretty big markets.
    Some parts of writing are a lot like sitting in the dark, which is why we just have to keep writing and subbing.


  9. Yes. Milo Man speaks wisely. I remember Jay Lake saying that it wasn’t unusual for rejections to come well after one year. And he (almost) never shook the rejection tree. But he acknowledged that people’s subbing profile and inventory vary and mileage will vary a lot on this question. .


  10. That’s good input, Milo. I’m definitely more apt to wait longer on the bigger publications, but maybe I should stretch that even more. Good luck with LORE – that’s a cool pub.


  11. It’s frustrating, Erin. With pro-level publications, I’ll send a query and keep waiting, no matter how long it takes. With the mid-level and lower venues, I’ll wait until a month after my query and send a formal withdrawal. I’ve already queried LORE twice with no response (using my Hotmail once and my Gmail the second time), but I’m willing to wait longer for them.


  12. Yes, I completely agree with you, Erin. Hypocrisy abounds in all manners in the writing world. And it is very frustrating to spend an hour (or more) rereading rules over and over and formatting the MS to individual standards of zines and writing cover letters based on what they want. Subbing novellas/novels is even more time depending (I average 2 hours prepping these) on what docs they want in addition to the MS. I don’t mind doing that as long as they treat my story and time with respect as I treated their magazine and editorship standards with respect. It may be me, but it seems like more and more this is the standard.

    BTW- Thanks for reading that story! Scared myself while writing it. ;-p


  13. Thanks Jodi. I don’t get it either. I guess for me, it’s that writers are expected to jump through so many hoops with each submission and every zine is so different, editors need to uphold the same standards. I’m not fond of hypocrites. I don’t care if an editor makes mistakes or fails to do something they promised (we’re all human), but when they come down on writers for doing the same, I lose all respect. Therefore, I’ll probably be pulling my stories, and one of them is going to leave a mark. That’s the way it goes.
    PS- I loved your flash, Awake, at PMM. Really cool format and pacing. Minimal and dark..Excellent.


  14. Btw- your site looks great, Erin. Congrats on the new sale to Damnation Books! I’m looking forward to reading it.


  15. Oh, man, Erin. I feel your pain. Funny enough, I’ve had this same exact problem. One publisher I followed up with two times and didn’t hear a thing back. I had initially received a “thank you we’ve received your submission” reply, so I know they had the story. I heard back from them last week, almost six months since I subbed the story. It was a standard reject. I have two other publishers that are months past when they promised a response. Same thing, no response to a follow up query. I understand the market is saturated, yes. But not responding to a query, I feel, is disrespectful and makes me wonder how they will treat my story if they can’t even give the time of day for a simple, quick response of yes, no or sorry, we’re swamped!


  16. How frustrating! I sometimes query, and I always resend the document, just in case it’s been lost. If you want to send it elsewhere, I would send another e-mail withdrawing it.


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