A recent discussion with another author about further consideration letters (sometimes called short-list letters) prompted the question of whether or not you should respond to them. It got me thinking about how I generally handle short lists and further considerations. So let’s talk about that. First, what is a further consideration letter? Here’s an example:
The editorial team has read your story, [Story Title]. They have decided to put this story on the “short-list” to be considered for publication. We want to respect your time as an author, so we will make a final decision as soon as possible.
Should you respond to a letter like this? I don’t think it’s necessary, and here are two reasons why.
- It’s really just a status update. In my experience, a lot of further consideration letters are form letters to let you know what’s going on with your story. They’re not too dissimilar from the auto-generated notifications you get when your story is initially received (in other words, they are meant as one-way communications). Basically, no response is required. The letter is just a “Hey, here’s what’s up with your submission.”
- It’s not expected. Piggy-backing on point number one, I personally don’t think editors expect a response to further consideration letters, even if they sent a short personal note. Like responding to a rejection (or generally anything but an acceptance), it’s not necessary and is probably just clutter in an inbox already filled to bursting.
I have not responded to most further consideration letters (but see below), and it doesn’t appear to have affected my chances of publication.
Okay, so are there times you should respond to a further consideration letter? That answer is yes, when the editor asks you to. See below:
Thank you again for your submission. We really like this story and would like to add this on our short list, if that is okay with you. We will have the final decisions by July 1 at the latest. Let us know!
This is something I’ve seen a few times with further consideration letters, especially if it’s going to take the editors a while to make decisions. Like in the letter above, the editors will a) tell you how long the decisions is going to take and b) ask you if you mind letting them hold on to the story for that long. In this case, yes, absolutely respond to let the editors to let them know what you decide. I really appreciate a letter like this, as it allows me to make an informed decision about what happens to my story. I’ve never pulled a story back after a letter like this, but it’s nice to have that option.
I have kind of a funny outlier story about responding to a further consideration letter. I once sent a story to a pro market (now sadly out of business), and after not hearing back for over six months, I sent a query letter. When I received no response to the query, I sent a withdrawal letter. About a week after I sent the withdrawal I received a further consideration letter from the publisher. In a panic, I sent the editor a note explaining I’d withdrawn the story, but if he didn’t mind too much, I’d like to, uh, withdraw my withdrawal. Luckily, he was a very understanding person and added the story back into his final review. I received an acceptance about two months later. (Yay! Happy ending.)
Thoughts on responding to a further consideration letter? Tell me about it in the comments.