My supervisor suggested that I sent a pre-submission inquiry to a journal editor about the potential suitability of my manuscript. I wrote to the editor last Friday and still haven't heard back from them. I am wondering if anyone who has previously done so could let me know how long it took you to get the response from the editor? I am hoping that I could submit it by the end of November (which is already here) and just don't know if it's worth waiting for the response or maybe just submit it anyways. Would love to hear about your thoughts on this. Thanks!
You wrote the editor last Friday. The time that has passed since you asked that question is a whopping 1.5-2.5 working days, depending on the exact time at which you sent your message.
This is a tiny amount of time in the calendar of many academics. Buffy is right in suggesting waiting at least a week.
There are several possible reasons for a pre-submission inquiry, including at least:
- You are still in the process of finalising the manuscript.
- Adapting the manuscript to the journal’s requirement for a submission would be a considerable effort. This should rarely apply nowadays.
- The journal has on a long decision process involving multiple editors for desk-rejecting any serious submission and you expect that an unsuccessful pre-submission inquiry would be faster.
- You can send pre-submission inquiries to multiple journals simultaneously – while you can only (ethically) submit to one.
- You avoid the psychological impact of a desk reject (and instead may only get a vaguely negative response to a pre-submission inquiry).
- You consider it more likely that the editor responds positively to your pre-submission inquiry than to a full submission and then sticks to their decision. (Unless you know the editor very well, I don’t think you can score better than chance with this: The editor may as well be more likely to respond negatively to your pre-submission inquiry than to a submission and stick to that.)
Only you (or your supervisor) know what reason applies to your case and this determines the answer to your question. Going from what you write, I guess it’s Reason 1 or 2. In that case and if your manuscript is ready for submission, I strongly suggest that you submit it immediately (and probably should not have made a pre-submission inquiry in the first place) for the following reasons:
The editor has more information to work on and thus you do not risk a vague or “wrong” response to the pre-submission inquiry, in particular the editor responding negative to your pre-submission inquiry due to lack of information. In fact, my experience with pre-submission inquiries is that they at best yield a vague response.
In case of success, the editor only needs to engage with your submission once, which is almost certainly faster a regular submission after the pre-submission inquiry. Consider this: Most of the waiting time originates from the editor being busy with other things. Once they have time for your manuscript, they will consider whatever they have at that moment. (Therefore you do not risk interrupting or confusing the editor with a submission.)
All of the above also means less waste of the editor’s time, which is not only more ethical but also likely improves their attitude to you.
It is for these reasons that many journals explicitly ask authors to refrain from pre-submission inquiries, when they already have a manuscript ready for submission.
If you make a proper submission, be sure to briefly mention that you made a pre-submission inquiry in your cover letter or notes to the editor (depending on the journal’s submission system), for example:
Please note that we have made an open pre-submission inquiry to [editor].
… and notify the editor to whom you sent your pre-submission inquiry, so they do not miss it, and make clear that you do this so they have the full information (and not because you were impatient), e.g., you can write to the editor:
As we now completed our manuscript, we have submitted it, such that you have all the possible information available.