Thursday, July 31, 2008


It appears I hit a nerve with my question yesterday. I was whining about writing multiple "no thank you" notes to authors' queries and wondered if it was a worthy endeavor. I asked, "Would you rather have a form rejection from us, or would silence suffice?" All of you who responded said a word from an agent, even a discouraging word, is better than nothing.

I hate to admit Jon was right on this one, but you guys agree with him. So, we will continue to answer any and all queries. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in!


? Writer ? Reading ? said...

I missed this whole survey as I just discovered this quite civilized blog and I appreciate your efforts to reach out to writers. As a novice who has talked to many writers, it seems to me that that biggest complaint is the long wait for a response and that the content of a rejection letter is only secondary. The wait prevents further submissions, even with multiple submissions. The rejection letter does not. I would much rather journals spend zero time on rejection letters and make their decisions quicker. Have a policy: If you haven't heard in a month, assume we loved your manuscript but it wasn't quite right for us, or whatever you would put in a rejection letter. Just one mass rejection that is automatic upon deadline. It's honest. It's fast. We writers would get quicker responses. And you editor/agents could better spend your time getting through the actual manuscripts in a more timely fashion, the deadlines you set up also motivations for you. Crazy?

Anonymous said...

I think it's terrific that you sought the opinions of writers about this issue! I'm here a little late, having followed a link from literary rejections on display, but wanted to say that I appreciate the thoughtful tone of your blog and look forward to reading more of what you have to say about your end of the business.

Kae and Jon said...

To: Writer? Reading?
The writer notes that the biggest complaint is the long response time from agents. I understand this and I cause this problem every day. The reasons for the long response time are the volumes of material we deal with and the time and effort given to each query/partial/manuscript. We are dealing with very critical and important parts of people's lives. I don't think speed is beneficial at this point in the process. It would be great to make quick decisions (easy for us) but not fair to authors.

Mass rejection upon an artificial deadline is just too cold.

Our policy will be to respond to one and all, even when it takes too long.

Waiting for a response from an agent should not prevent or hinder further submissions. We do not require any kind of exclusivity and encourage writers to submit widely.

Jon Tienstra

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Nothing hurts a writer more than waiting to hear back from an agent. While getting a rejection letter from an agent is painful, it beats never hearing back and wondering.

I'd much rather get a standard "No thanks." than never knowing.

~Anthony Lindsey~

Karen Duvall said...

Writers these days are noting the agents who don't respond if they're not interested, and are sharing that info with fellow writers. Word is that some writers are grouping those agents onto their "C" list (or not querying them at all), meaning only responding agents will get first crack at their work. I suppose that doesn't matter to a lot of these agents, but what if one of those writers is the next Stephanie Myers? What a shame to miss out on the opportunity to snatch up the next best selling author. Could happen. 8^)

When I was querying agents (I have an agent now), there were about 20 who never responded.

The most beautiful woman wears nothing but her confidence. said...

As a novice writer who is currently sending out their query letters in hopes of just getting a, "sure we'll take a look at a few chapters" getting a no stings, but it feels a hell of a lot better then waiting for that yes that you feel may never come.

Discouraging words they may be, however it is true, it is better then nothing, better then waiting for that particular ship to come in.

Martin Owton said...

I would always prefer to receive a rejection - even an obviously form one.
Non-responding agents got another query from me a few months down the line on the assumption that the original query had gone missing