I have a conundrum. I was at a writers' conference and an editor from a house I really admire asked for my manuscript! Obviously I was thrilled. I sent along all my materials as soon as I got back to my house. More than a month has passed now, though, and I haven't heard a peep. What should I do? What's the protocol in a situation like this?
First, are you asking me if it's ok to follow up? Sure. A great rule for follow-up with an editor on requests is one month. Less than one month and you're psycho and annoying. But once you reach the 32nd day, you're totally in the clear.
Edited to add: Please note: this is apparently not an industry standard. Below is Janet Reid's comment that 90 days is the minimum wait time before it's appropriate to call. Perhaps this has to do with how long I expect to be allowed to consider proposals from agents; I can see why agents need much longer to consider, since they don't have any third party sifting through proposals for them. Other agent/editor friends, do you agree? 90 days?
As for the best way to follow up, email. Don't call. (Here's why if you're curious why using the phone is the worst idea in the world.)
But there's another issue at the heart of this story, and it's one that comes up for everyone who attends a conference and meets with an editor. There's no agent in the equation. This means you're in a very weak negotiating position. There's no one but lonely you to apply pressure on the editor, and there's no pressure on the editor except a random unrepresented author with no other competitive prospects. Since you haven't submitted widely, there is zero chance of an auction or competitive bidding scenario, and furthermore, if a contract is issued, you'll probably end up with a contract that's a lot less favorable to you than it would have been if you'd been in a stronger negotiating position at the beginning.
Here's my post, which you've already read and are certainly tired of, about why you should have an agent before you submit to a publishing company. Now a conference connection is a very special scenario--of course you should follow up on that contact! But keep trying to get an agent. In the worst case scenario, the editor passes, you're back and square one and might as well go about the rest of your journey in as strong and forward-thinking a manner as possible. In the (supposed) best-case scenario, the editor offers on the book, you still need an agent to help you negotiate the contract (and also to figure out whether you want to take the deal, or hold out for something that might be a better fit for you and your book).
Hope this helped.