This excerpt comes from Secret # 8: Understand the Key Players. I pray it lights a fire under you!
Editors: how to know them
Here are some questions I commonly get asked about editors and publishing.
How do you approach a new editor for the first time? E-mail? Cover letter? Send clips? What?
I usually try to make the most of my conferences by meeting as many editors as I can—both in magazines and books. I bring high quality chocolate and hand it out. This hearkens back to the adage of doing unto others as you would have others do to you. If I’ve had a memorable conversation, meaning the editor has asked for a manuscript or seem to be interested in what I’ve pitched, I’ll write a hand-written thank you note before I follow up with a query letter or proposal.
If it’s a cold call, I’ll write a professional query letter, listing the articles and books I’ve published. I almost always query by email, but I’m sure to keep it professional. Just because my follow up involves email doesn’t mean it should be lax or casual communication.
What if you send a manuscript and don’t hear for a long period of time? How long is too long? When and how do you follow up?
I would give it at least four months. After that time, drop a quick email that’s friendly and inquiring. “I’ve not heard from you and wanted to check on the status of my proposal.” If you don’t hear back after 8 months, consider your proposal as free game and resubmit elsewhere, but let the editor know.
If an editor rejects a manuscript with a form rejection, is it okay to ask them to explain why?
No. I wouldn’t do that. Editors are very, very busy. They have a form for a reason because they simply can’t write handwritten, personal responses. Chalk it up as a no and leave it at that. If you’re truly curious, ask your critique group why it might have been rejected, or hire a professional to give you pointers.
If an editor rejects a manuscript with suggestions for improving it, is it OK to make those corrections and resubmit it?
Only if the editor says this is okay. If an editor says no and is kind enough to give suggestions, use that as an impetus to improve the proposal. I would not resubmit unless they specifically asked you to.
Is it ever okay to send a manuscript back to the same publication if you have revised it and enough time has passed?
In my opinion, no. Once the book has been passed over, it’s been passed over. An editor will most likely not be happy to have the same (albeit reworked) proposal again. However, I will say that if a house has changed editors, you may consider resending,
Another thing to consider. My first novel was rejected by a house within a few months. A year later, an editor remembered it, read it again, and acquired it.
Are there ways to follow-up with editors you have met at a conference?
As I mentioned earlier, a nice hand-written thank you note is appropriate.
At what point do you start calling editors by their first name?
I’ve always done that, but that’s because I usually meet editors at conferences, which goes to show just how important conferences are.