Thursday, July 31, 2008

How SHOULD An Agent Serve Up Rejection?

The publicist/lit agents over at The New Literary Agents Blog ask an interesting question of their readers/probably-writers:  What's better, a form rejection or silence?  The agents over there were noting the incredible time consuming nature of responding to all the poor w,r's of the world, and wondered out loud if they should just let no answer stand in as a rejection.  

This seems like one you mice might like to weigh in on.

11 comments:

Jade Park said...

Good G*d. They should respond! Aside from the fact that silence is too ambiguous (did they lose my submission? did they not get to it yet?)...if I "bothered" to submit something, they should "bother" to send me a teeny tiny slip with a few xeroxed words (that seems to be the status quo of rejections these days) on it letting me know my piece was rejected.

bloglily.com said...

I agree. It should not be forgotten that agents SOLICIT those submissions. If you're going to ask for something, particularly something of great consequence to the sender, it's terribly unprofessional to ignore it. If you feel you do not have the resources to respond to all submissions, then you should probably not be allowing people to send them to you. An alternative -- and one that I think is on the edge of being equally unprofessional -- is to make it clear in the same space where you solicit submissions that you do not, in fact, respond personally to all submissions and that your silence after a certain period of time should be construed as a rejection. And then writers can decide if they want to be involved with an agent who doesn't respond to submissions.

Nanette said...

I consider six weeks enough time to respond. I would rather have silence than some of the unprofessional, idiotic, WRONG assessments of my work that I have gotten from some agents - if the chapter was good enough to be published in a MAJOR journal AND be nominated for a Pushcart, then the agent has no business telling me I don't know how to write. Maybe he/she should be a plumber.

anonymoose said...

I appreciate a professional response, whether a form letter or a policy on the website guidelines explaining how they respond. I've gone through the silent treatment and it's frustrating. Had no idea whether my submission got lost, got tossed, or eaten up by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So I've gotten more careful where I send my submissions.

JohnFox said...

Yes, the most professional move is always to respond, if only with a form letter. No-Response-Editors are an entirely different class, and not a higher one.

austexgrl said...

Let's see...I am also a nurse. The next time you come to the doctors office, would you like us to tell you what your diagnosis is...or would you rather we did not say anything?

Of Mice and Mice said...

I wonder why more of them don't simply reject via email - seems the obvious choice since it's faster, doesn't waste paper or use postage etc. And brevity in email is usually welcome, nu?

minnie mouse said...

A form rejection is much better than silence. With silence come too many "what-ifs." A form rejection leaves no doubt, and the writer can move on.

(Note to WR: you need to fix your link to The New Literary Agents' post -- there's an "h" missing from the beginning of the url.)

Elizabeth said...

I have just grown so tired of writing query letters to agents. What a time-sucker! And you know, I'm terribly too busy. So I wonder, is it OK with you agent-type people if I just email you my first 50 pages? Really, it's such a quaint, old fashioned notion, this manners thing -- we should just dispense with it, don't you agree?

Don't bother responding to me; I'll take your silence as post-modern feh.

bloglily.com said...

I have to plead guilty to not following that link before responding. I'd assumed that the agents proposing not to respond had already made up their minds to stop responding. In fact, they were asking whether this is something that might work for writers, because it would definitely make their lives easier. I often forget that on the other side of my submission is somebody who's got to read not only my gem but a zillion others. Of course, this is their chosen business, as writing is mine, and it comes with difficult jobs, but I liked it that they wanted to discuss this question with writers. They sound like nice people.

Elizabeth said...

Hrm. Yes, they sound like nice people, I agree. However, what they're asking--basically, leave to be rude--is not so nice.

We have a friend who does not reply to invitations -- even formal, written, rsvp-type invitations, such as to weddings and Easter brunch. He ignores them, particularly the ones he's just not interested in. Sometimes, when you get him on the phone, he admits to waiting to hear about another conflicting invitation -- "I may be going camping with my brother that weekend, I don't know, I haven't decided, but if I don't, sure, I'll come." ARGH! It drives me up a greased wall. Raised in a barn and all that. He has a few other qualities that, over the years, seem to have trumped this basic rudeness, but just barely, so he still receives invitations, but with explicit instructions to reply by a certain date and a promise that he'll be run up the flagpole of embarrassment if he fails. (Even this doesn't always work.)

What the agent is asking is permission to ignore us. It's neither polite nor professional. Can you imagine soliciting bids and just not replying to emails about those RFPs you're declining? This is essentially what the agent is considering.

That's what I think! (That crazyass Glenn Close comes to mind, just before she boils the bunny: "I won't be ignored.")