How to communicate with your publisher

23 February, 2015

Congratulations!  You have a book deal.  You are so excited.
Suddenly, there is complete silence.  Your literary agent, who had communicated regularly during the submission process, appears to be have moved on.  Your new editor, who seemed so eager to buy the rights to your book, does not reach out.  headshot_joelledelbourgo
What to do?

First, be patient.  Understand that  your agent worked hard to make the deal happen and is now finalizing details of the deal.  The editor is drafting a request for the contract, which involves a lot of paperwork and a lot of different people signing off before a contract draft can be crafted and sent to your agent for review.  That can take weeks, and it has been known to take months.  Once your agent receives it, she may first send back lengthy comments to the publishing house, with requests for changes.  There can be quite a lot of back and forth, and believe me, it is not fun.  It is arduous, meticulous work.

While all this is going on, your editor is preoccupied.

So…if you have not heard from editor, ask your agent if it is OK to send a personal note, thanking the editor for taking on your project or novel.  Perhaps your agent can make the introduction.  Follow up with a gracious and enthusiastic note, letting the editor know how thrilled you are to be working with the publishing house, how much you will value the input you receive, and how hard you plan to work to market your book successfully–with his help.

Once things get beyond the contract stage, you can ask the editor for feedback and for how that editor likes to work. Do they prefer to see the work in progress or as a whole?  How often would they like you to communicate.

While I personally prefer phone, many editors, especially younger ones, may prefer to use email, which allows them to take the time they need to respond.

There is little question that an author who is warm, positive and collaborative is one that everyone works harder for.  Strive to be that kind of author.  And if you don’t hear back, nudge gently.   Still no response?  Ask your agent for advice before you do anything. Your agent may know, for example, that the editor is at a sales conference, and that’s why she hasn’t gotten back to you.

The good news is that most editors are wonderful and want to hear from you.  So reach out and get the conversation going.

–Joelle Delbourgo