By Wendy Burt-Thomas
Q: I mailed a query out a couple of weeks ago but haven’t heard back from the magazine. How long do I wait before following up or moving on?
A: Many magazines that have writer’s guidelines (or at least a listing in the “Writer’s Market”) will tell you how long they take to respond. I would first see if you can find this. Also, you can assume that the larger a publication, the longer it will take to get a response, because they’ll generally have more writers querying and/or sending submissions. And finally, since you sent your query by mail, it will likely take longer to respond than if you had sent it by email due to the dreaded ‘slush pile.’ (I’m not suggesting you send queries by email. Only do so if the guidelines say e-queries are acceptable.)
With that said, I recommend that you give it a couple more weeks (unless your piece is super-timely) and then follow-up with a short email. Phone calls are ok with smaller publications. If you still don’t hear back within, say, a week, go ahead and query another publication for that idea.
Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer, editor and copywriter with more than 1,000 published pieces. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as MSNBC.com, NYTimes.com, Family Circle and American Fitness. She is the author of three books: Oh, Solo Mia! The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One (McGraw-Hill, 2001); Work It, Girl! 101 Tips for the Hip Working Chick (McGraw-Hill, 2003); and The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters (Writer’s Digest, 2008). Visit her at http://www.GuideToQueryLetters.com or her blog, http://askWendy.wordpress.com.