Proposal submission

by Vijay K Kerji

Question: I thank you for your time to read and answer the questions.

I have submitted my proposal(synopsis, initial chapters) to a few agents and publishers. A few publishers have responded and some of them haven't replied even after six weeks. Their website doesn't mention any time frame either.

1. Should I send my complete manuscript to those who have rejected my proposal for reconsideration?

2. Is it all right if I remind those who haven't replied yet? And what is the average time frame I need to wait before asking the agents?

Any informative guidelines on the this matter is really appreciated.

Answer: Hi Vijay,

The standard practice is... if someone has rejected your proposal, don't approach them again with the same work. You only get one chance. (The exception is if they specifically say they will look at it again after you make certain changes, but that's rare.)

For that matter, if you query one agent at an agency and they reject, don't then query another agent at the same agency.

I know some publishers can take up to six months to reply to an unsolicited manuscript submission. Agents are usually faster regarding queries, but it all depends on the agent and their current workload.

If an agent requests a full manuscript, it may be polite to let the others know who haven't got back to you, but I wouldn't hound them too much.

Of course, there are people who break such guidelines out of desperation, but if you make a habit of it, you won't endear yourself to those in the industry.

Querying is a frustrating process that tests every writer's resolve, especially since luck and timing seem to play as big a role as quality of writing.

If you have received good feedback on your book from people you trust, all you can do is be patient and persistent.

Best of luck.

Comments for Proposal submission

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Jan 30, 2016
Protecting Rights
by: Kenny Ray

I am researching material for a book on local history. I have a local publisher in mind. My topic has not been written about in depth, the only things written about it are a number of unpublished articles. Among historians that is a big deal. My concern is if I put 'feelers' out there, i.e. anything other than a complete manuscript, I am afraid of someone else seeing that and jumping on it. Any thoughts on how I can protect my ideas before writing them?


Feb 01, 2016
to Kenny Ray
by: Glen

You must realize that ideas cannot be copyrighted, only the actual expression of the ideas (i.e. the manuscript itself).

That said, what a publisher is buying is a combination of the research that only you have done, your unique interpretation of the evidence, and your ability to express that interpretation in an appealing way.

Even if someone were to read your proposal and decide they wanted to steal your ideas, they would still have to do all the research and the work of creating a manuscript. That's a lot of effort to create something that, for all they know, might not even sell.

Besides, anyone who wants to write books and has the talent has enough of their own ideas of topics to write about.

In short, you don't have anything to worry about.

Yes, you could go to the trouble of finishing your manuscript and then registering it with the US copyright office for a fee, but this is usually a waste of time and money.

(In nonfiction, one usually gets a contract from a publisher based on a proposal and sample chapters before writing the full manuscript. This potentially stops you from spending many additional months working on something that doesn't sell.)

Best of luck.

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