Is it okay to send my manuscript to multiple editors?

Today we answer two questions about the etiquette of the acquisition process.

Question 1: Can I send a book proposal to more than one editor at a time? In the past, I have received interest from several editors, but when I indicated that I was talking to other publishers, the communication stopped. I've heard that you should let publishers know if you're talking with others, but this seems to have backfired. What do you suggest in terms of disclosure?

Question 2: How long does it typically take for an editor to get back to you, and what to do if I don't hear back?

Multiple submissions are acceptable for book projects (multiple submissions to journals, however, are a no-no!). Given the amount of time the initial review can take, this is advantageous to the author, as they don't have to wait weeks or even months before approaching another publisher.

That said, authors are expected to be transparent with the editor about the multiple submissions; a good place to mention this is in the cover letter. If an editor at another press agrees to send the project out for review (which is a logistical and financial commitment on the part of the publisher), it is critical that you notify the other editors you've approached.

With regard to response times, those can vary, and it can be a good couple of months before you receive an initial response. Some publishers specify in their guidelines how long the initial review process takes, so that’s a good place to look. It’s also okay to check back after the specified period has passed but no more than twice.

Do you have questions about the etiquette of working with an editor? Post them in the comments section below or email us.

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