Do agents hear back from editors? I’m assuming they eventually get an answer of yes or no, they’re not just in limbo—right?
Dear L. B. …
Sometimes agents don’t hear back, even after nudging. It’s sabotaging behavior on the part of the editors, of course. Agent’s make money by selling projects, so the editor who doesn’t respond doesn’t get future submissions. More common is editors being slow to reply. Agents understand why this happens. Usually it’s about editorial workload, but sometimes things happen that disrupt quick replies. That’s why agents need strong relationships with editors: an agent will know if this is a rare disruption or a pattern. If it’s a pattern, the agent won’t bother with them in the future, no matter how many award-winning or bestselling books they’ve edited. And you don’t want them to! You want your agent submitting to the best editor for you who is actively acquiring.
Right now, agents report finding editorial yes-and-no’s slow in general. They’re dealing with this by submitting each project to only an editor or two at a time to avoid flooding the zone and worsening the situation. They’re also spending more time in development with their writers, holding out for a writer’s absolute best projects and revising those to as close to absolute perfection as they can. So, if you’re wondering why your agent hasn’t taken your project right out on sub, now you know.
The Editor, Deborah Halverson, has been editing books for over 25 years and specializes in Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction and nonfiction, New Adult fiction, and picture books. For her editorial guidance in making your manuscript ready for submission to agents and publishers or for self-publishing, click Editorial services. Learn more in her books: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies and Writing New Adult Fiction.