Skip to main content

How Long Until You Can Follow Up on Magazine Query Letters?

Here's what you need to know when considering how long to wait before following up with a magazine editor.

Q: I e-mailed a query to a magazine editor three weeks ago and haven't heard from him. The writer's guidelines state, "Don't call us; we'll call you if we want to use your piece." How long should someone wait to hear back from an e-mail query? Is it appropriate to send the query again and indicate that this is a follow-up? —Ruth A.

query-letter-writing

A: If the writer's guidelines state, "Don't call us; we'll call you," my hunch is that the editor contacts only the authors whose pieces he plans to use. This is a bit unorthodox, as most magazines will send you (at minimum) a polite, yet standard, rejection letter if they choose not to use your work.

It's important to keep in mind that while the Internet/e-mail age has sped up the querying process on the writer's end, it hasn't necessarily sped up the response time of publishers—mainly because most are inundated with even more queries than before (because of the ease of e-mail) and most publishers have smaller staffs than they did even five years ago. So three weeks is not much time by publishing standards.

[Learn about Freelance Writing: 10 Ways to Satisfy Editors & Land More Assignments]

As far as I see it, you have two realistic options: 1. Wait at least eight weeks, then nicely follow up by resending your query with a friendly note checking up on its status; or 2. If your query could fit other magazines, start shopping the idea to them. Should one accept it, then send a note to the "don't call us" editor and withdraw your idea from consideration. If it were me and there were other potential markets, I'd go with option 2—it gives you a better chance of placing the work. If it's too narrow for anyone else, go with option 1.

Learn everything you need to know about developing (and sustaining)
a freelance writing career with The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing,
a new,
must-own guide for all writers. Order now!

The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Thanks for visiting The Writer's Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

brian-klems-2013

Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian's free Writer's Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter
Listen to Brian on: The Writer's Market Podcast

Tags
terms:
Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Porter discusses celebrating the nature of getting older in her new romance novel, Flirting With Fifty.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

From in-person interviews to scouring the web for credible sources, journalist Alison Hill shares tips on how to research topics like a journalist.

Can I Have Your Attention?

Can I Have Your Attention?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an announcement is about to change the course of history.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.

From Script

Adapting True Crime and True Stories for Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers and showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis (“Pam & Tommy”), Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah (“The Girl from Plainville”) who both have taken creative liberties in adapting true stories for a limited series.

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Author Chanel Cleeton discusses how reader curiosity led her to write her new historical fiction novel, Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!