Monday, March 12, 2012

Collecting Data-Whoopee by Linda S. Glaz

Terry and I have been collecting data from agents and editors about some of those pet peeves they have concerning submissions. The list is GROWING . . .

Terry’s been very open about how and why he responds, and I find his method caring and encouraging. Although, I realize all agents aren’t the same, so . . .

. . . for the sake of fairness, I’d like to know how authors feel about how their submissions are handled. Authors send out their pride and joy, and how are they treated?

And in telling us how you feel about the way you are treated, what would you like to see? Other than a publishing contract, of course. What can an agent or editor do to lessen the pain of a rejection?

I can totally empathize. I know for a fact, before the wondrous day of email submissions that I spent more than a thousand dollars snail mailing. I won’t begin to tell you what I got as replies, when I got any at all. Those were the days of: really? Another rejection on a slip of TP? Just kidding, but it felt that way more times than not. (of course, a few were flushed nonetheless)

The prize goes to the one who perseveres, but that’s a whole different blog post.

Let’s find out what you all think about rejection, plain and simple.
C’mon. Cough it up. I know you’ve got plenty to say.


Sharon A. Lavy said...

I have been blessed, because I mostly got good rejections. And I seemed to hit it off with agents. I have a lot of them on my friends list. (Especially now that I have an agent. Amazing how that makes the other agents relax. LOL.)

But one thing I would like to address is the sending or not sending a canned response about receiving the submission and sorry it does not fit our needs.

Some agencies say they don't have time for this and don't owe the writer a response.

In my opinion it is in the agency's best interest to at least send a canned response rather than have their inbox filled with inquires if the query every reached the agents desk. To me this would be a win-win situation.

Terry Burns said...

Good topic, good response, and yes it is true that I respond to everything. It doesn't have as much to do with business as it does with the way mama raised me. I respond within a day or two of getting a submission unless I'm traveling or something. If it's clear it's not a fit I say so, otherwise I send an acknowledgement that I got it. Sure it's a form note, but it's one that I have worked on and polished until it is a very good note and tells the sender exactly what to expect. I did a blog on this a while back, a form note does not necessarily mean the sender does not care, but may mean the sender cared enough to put the work in to make it right.

Terry Burns said...

Thinking on this further, there is a time when editors and agents don't feel they owe a response. When we get a "Dear Sir or Madam" or something similar we read that as "Dear Occupant." You know what you to with mail addressed occupant. Lots of agents and editors feel if the person sending does not take the time addressing something to them personally they don't owe it a personal response, many not even bothering to read it. Actually, thanks to mama, I do respond but have another 'canned note' that tells them what I have said here.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Rejection letters – even form letters – are much better than no letter at all. I understand the busy-ness and paper piles that fill an agent’s life, but some people have just been rude. Even those met face-to-face at a conference. (No rudeness from this agency, I might add.)

Other busy but thoughtful agents post disclaimers similar to, “if you don’t hear from us in (a specific number of weeks/months) then your submission doesn’t fit our needs.” Not a problem. That lets me know what to expect up front. To me, that’s the same as a reply.

But an agent who responds to a follow-up note saying, “Be patient,” or “I’ve been really busy,” leads me on. I’d rather they cut me off at the knees so I can hobble on with the next query.

I’ve learned not to be so na├»ve.

An agent who responds with a comment? Now that’s a priceless gift. My agent did just that—sent me a brief couple of lines explaining what didn’t work in my manuscript. I looked at the project with new eyes, realized she was right, and then asked if I could resubmit. She graciously said yes. Honestly, I didn’t expect that, and had been told it just wasn’t done. How surprised I was when she later wrote requesting the full manuscript. The next letter included a contractual offer, and today (thanks to my agent) that first manuscript and one other are before editors’ eyes. said...

What I want from editors and my agent NOW (but didn't always appreciate early on) is the TRUTH sandwiched between ENCOURAGMENT. Since I've dealt primarily with Christians over the years, I cannot say I've ever received a mean-spirited rejection letter, but I can say that some have been kinder and more helpful than others. Focus on the Family once sent me a rejection letter I wanted to frame! Even though I strongly suspected it was a form letter, their Christ-like response SHOWED me rather than TOLD me a lot about their organization. I was so impressed I wrote them a thank you!

Cora Allen said...

I don't like when an editor or agent's policy is that if I don't get a response in so many weeks or months it should be taken that they are not interested. The reason is that in the writer's heart, they hold out hope for the entire time period when the editor/agent may have decied two weeks in that they aren't interested. I'd rather have an email that says, "No thanks." than that.

I also don't want an editor/agent to request a proposal when they really aren't interested. It gives the writer false hope and wastes everyone's time.

Overall, most rejections I've had have been delivered by form letter, a simple email, or compassionately face-to-face at a conference. Most editors/agents are kind people who don't like to hurt writer's feelings even when they have to turn something down.

Katherine Hyde said...

Two things particularly bothered me when I was searching for an agent.

1) Agents requesting a partial or full but then not responding within a year. I can understand why some busy agents don't respond to every query, but if you request material, you really should respond.

2) Having my responses to an agent's email go to their junk mail and thus never get answered or even read. This was a case where the agent had asked me to revise and resubmit. Please, set your junk filters to allow responses to your own messages!

Cheryl said...

While I was waiting to hear back from an agent on a project, I received a contract for a different project from a publisher. I wasn't sure what to do, so I shot off a quick email to the agent, just letting her know about it. I waited for a couple of weeks, and then signed the publisher's contract, hoping it wasn't the wrong choice.

Luckily, it wasn't. Right before Christmas I received a form rejection from the agent. I wish she had at least acknowledged she received my manuscript or my note about the contract.

Thanks for a great post. So sorry your pet peeves list is growing instead of shrinking.

Terry Burns said...

Linda, I'm sorry, I feel like I am hijacking your post. Katherine, these are both great points but I would like to add a disclaimer. I go through my junk mail before I dump it and often find things in there that should not be there. Even from people where they are marked and it should have been received. Also remember you are dealing with a limited number of agents or editors while they are wading through hundreds and hundreds of messages. In spite of all the safeguards that we have in place things do fall through the cracks. I for one appreciate a followup when I have not responded within an appropriate period of time and on occasion it does point out something that should have been addressed.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

So great to see in the comments how many writers have been rejected, but then persevered, only to be accepted elsewhere. I think that's the overall take-away--rejection is not the end of your writing career. You will experience it, in many forms, some worse than others.

In my opinion, the worst is when the agency gives no time limit for their response, so how many months does a writer wait until writing that agent off? That said, I know agents are flooded with queries, so, as a writer, it's in your best interests to selectively query several places at once. That way you're using your time well. The agent who cares enough to jump on your query and respond enthusiastically is the kind of agent you want in your corner!

Diana said...

Thank you for that clarification. I too appreciate a nudge after a respectable amount of time, 4-6 weeks. During conference season it is easy to loose a submission in a couple hundred emails when an agent or editor is away from their desk.
BTW: I assume writers are submitting simultaneously unless otherwise informed.

Linda Glaz said...

All good comments, and Terry you don't ever hijack anything, except that one car I heard about in Dallas, but you gave it back, so that's okay! Seriously, I, too like to respond right away, this year has been a bit of a challenge, but I still try and get back as quickly as possible. When I tend to take a lot of time, is when I want to like something so very badly, that I will reread the proposal 6 or 7 times before taking or rejecting it. I hate to think I had a bad day and rejected something prematurely when I really like the concept.

Cheryl Linn Martin said...

I'd like to see more rejections that give us a note of encouragement along with the "no, thank you."

Thanks, Linda, for the fun post. I loved the "TP" comment!
Aloha! --Cheryl