Laura Bendoly

Feb 10, 2021
I read in numerous places this fall that it's taking 12 months for agents to open an unsolicited query. If that's the case, what is the benefit of doing a three line pitch? Thanks. Just trying to save some energy and re-appoint it to other things if my work is going to gather dust in the slush file. Laura, Ohio, author of cyberpunk fiction
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No, I don't think agents are taking 12 months to read queries. I think three to four months maximum for unsolicited queries. I know some literary agency have a set deadline that unsolicited queries must be read within three months. Now if it's requested material like a full manuscript then it could take longer for the agent to let the author know a decision.

If you are doing a three-line pitch and an agent requests to see more material then the author usually moves near the front of the reading list for that agent. It's usually a much shorter wait time if the work has been requested.

Hope this helps!

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As a submissions editor, I generally take one to two days to respond to an unsolicited query -- unfortunately that's usually with a canned response that basically says "You didn't read our submissions guidelines, did you?"

IF the query contains the information we request in the body of the email, and if that information tells me the book is something we could publish if we like it, then, I will check the attached files. If those are what we requested, and the query sounds interesting, the manuscript goes to an editor I think might make a good match, and the editor has two weeks to review the manuscript to see if it's something she wants to edit -- and, more importantly, if you sound like an author she's going to want to work with for the next decade.

Your book doesn't have to be perfect. It has to tell a great story within the boundaries of our guidelines. We won't change our minimum and max word count just for you. We won't help you rewrite the book if the characters are flat and the story line is boring and or cliché. If every set of dialog punctuation is wrong, you’re going to have to fix that before we start edits. But any number of minor grammar issues can be overcome by a great story, characters we love, and a willingness to work hard at polishing and promoting your work. There are three possible editor responses: 1) No, thanks, 2) I like this but it needs revisions or rewrites before I can edit it, or 3) Sign this author up.

The advantage to PitchFest is, you should be past all the initial stages of "will this work for us." You go straight to your potential editor. Note that this ONLY works if you follow the instructions to put "Pitchfest" in the subject line of the email, and, of course, follow the query guidelines, which tell you specifically what to include with your completed manuscript.

Margaret Riley
Publisher & Submissions Editor
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