Thursday, June 26, 2014

No Longer Viable by Terry Burns

Today I'm working my way through my database looking for submissions that are due for a follow up or for those that may no longer be viable. I do this several times a year.

No longer viable, what does that mean?

These days there is a growing number of editors that say "no response unless we are interested."  I understand that for an editor who is getting so many submissions that they feel they simply cannot respond to everybody. I feel there should be a different treatment for fellow professionals who have gone through hundreds of submissions to find the submission they are making for a client, but it is what it is.

The problem is the agent has a duty to follow up on submissions. Some listings in my database carry the "no response unless interested" indication but also says to please not follow up. Others do not indicate that a follow up can't be done so I have a duty to do it. When I go through the database as I am today and a submission is getting pretty old and there has been no response to the submission or to the follow ups then I notify my client that I no longer consider the submission viable.

Even then in such a situation it is not a definite answer. It has technically not been rejected, and I have been known to hear back on a submission even after a year or more has passed. Last month I got a response on one that had been sent three years ago. It is just so much cleaner when I get a "not for me," or "this is not a good fit," or even "I wouldn't feed this to my dog." I can move on, my client can move on, and the editor ceases to get follow up emails.

Of course when I get a rejection that actually tells the author something they can use, that is gold. It also gives me feedback that can help me better find projects that would fit that particular editor. I wish it happened more, but again, it is what it is.

In the meantime I continue to decide which ones I need to follow up on and which ones are probably no longer viable. Nobody wants to watch the mailbox or the inbox for an answer that is not coming. Okay, back to wading through the database.


Elaine Stock said...

I appreciate this candid insight to a side of agenting I couldn't have imagined.

Audrey said...

I always appreciate it when you give us an insider's view. It's good to know what an agent really does for a writer. Please keep on sharing Terry!

Diana Flegal said...

Thanks Terry for explaining a large part of what we spend our time on.