How Long Should I Wait for a Publisher to Respond?

I just got this question about publishing from a reader who pointed out that I've never answered this before, so I'm posting with her permission:

The Question:
I sent a query to a publishing company, and they haven't gotten back to me yet, and it's been a week. How long should I wait before I should take no answer as rejection and try it with another publisher?

My response: 

The publishing industry is notoriously slow, and very often does not answer email queries at all if they are not interested.

Your best bet is to look on the company's website and find out if they mention how long it takes them to respond to "unsolicited queries" or "unsolicited submissions."  But I believe the industry standard is a three month response time, and some take up to sixth months or nine months!  

However, it is usually fine to query many publishing companies at the same time: the only time you need to wait before querying another company is if you have sent them a manuscript when they have responded to a query and asked for it. Then they probably hope you will wait for a response from them before sending the manuscript to another house. (But even this can vary.)

Publishers can take up to six months or more to respond, and if they like a manuscript and want to publish it, it can take them as long as two years to do so!  So all this stuff takes a long time.  If you've only waited a week, you've got a long time to wait still. 

Better get busy and find other companies to query. Or better yet, start writing your next story. Hope this helps!

Peace and good


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