When and how should you query on the status of a submission?
If you've been waiting a while for a response on a submission, you may want to query the agent/editors about the submission. Their guidelines may provide time frames on when to query and instructions on how to query. Always follow those directions when they're provided. (If they say that queries aren't welcome, truly don't test them on that.)
Duotrope's listings and submission tracker also provide information about estimated response and query times, when known (see next section).
Some submission managers may provide a form for sending a query, but other times you may be emailing the editors. Be brief and polite in your message. For example:
Could you please check on the status of my submission of title(s), which I submitted to you on date? Your guidelines state that I should have received a response within time frame. I'd really appreciate an update. Thanks for your time!
And now you wait some more to get a response on your query. If you don't hear back within 30 days, it's probably time to move on (see information on "giving up" below).
Do you have to query on the status of a submission?
If you're shy about these things (we're introverts, too, so we get it) or you simply don't have the time to chase up dozens of submissions (we hear you, too), querying on the status of a submission isn't mandatory.
Updating submission reports after querying
If you use Duotrope, after sending a status query, don't forget to update your submission report with the Query Date for your records.
How Duotrope Can Help
On our publisher and agent listings, in the Submission Statistics section, look in the "Other Information" subheading. If the editors/agents have provided estimated response times and/or guidance on when to send status queries, that information will be listed there. Such as:
(1.5 % of the responses reported to us for this listing have taken longer than 35 days.)
The editors will try to make a decision within 35 days.
Do not query on the status of your submission before 70 days have passed.
Helpful Color Coding and Filter Options
In your Submission Tracker, pending responses are color coded to help you determine when it might be appropriate to query the editor or update the status of the submission:
Pending: No Action Needed Pending Response: No Action Needed. It is probably too early to send a query at this point.
Pending: Time to Query? Pending Response: Time to Query? It may be appropriate to send a query on the status of your submission at this point, but it's too soon to change the status to "Never Responded." Always check guidelines before querying.
Pending: Time to Query/Give Up? Pending Response: Time to Query/Give Up? It may be appropriate to send a query or you may consider reporting the submission as "Never Responded" at this point. Always check guidelines before querying.
Pending: Time to Give Up? (Do not query.) Pending Response: Time to Give Up? (Do not Query.) Either the editors have requested no queries or they do not respond to all submissions (see their guidelines for details). It may be appropriate to change the status to "Never Responded" or "Rejected" at this point.
Also, you can filter your Submission Tracker to show only pending submissions with "Time To Query" and/or "Time to Give Up" flags.
Knowing when to give up waiting
Duotrope compiles "give up" times for each listing. When the editors/agents provide guidance on when to send a status query and/or how long they expect their response times to be, we base our "give up" time on that (in most cases, it's 30 days over the estimated response or query time). When they don't provide that information, we apply a complex statistical formula to the data we have (submission reports reported by our members) to determine what a reasonable "give up" time should be. In either case, anything over the "give up" target is eligible to be reported as "Never Responded."
Reporting overdue submissions as "Never Responded" (or Rejections* in some cases)
* Note: If the publisher or agent states to assume rejection after x many days, you can use the "Rejection" option instead of "Never Responded" if you prefer. However, you will have to update those reports individually.
You can only report submissions as "Never Responded" if they are over the "give up" time for the publisher/agent. If that's the case, you can either update the single report as usual, or you can update your overdue pending submissions to "Never Responded" in bulk.
You just might find that it's cathartic. You can let that 0.1% of your brain wondering what that submission is up to take a break and focus on other things.
Also, keep in mind that reporting a response as "Never Responded" (or Rejected) isn't a permanent action. If you get an acceptance letter from them in a week (yay!) you can still go in and update your report to an Acceptance.
Finally, holding on to overdue pending responses or waiting a very long time (especially years) before reporting a submission as "Never Responded" can drastically skew the submission statistics that other Duotrope members rely on, so the community would really appreciate it if you tidy up those overdue reports every now and then. Otherwise, your reports are more likely to be considered outliers.