Here’s a question for those of you who are familiar with the, um, challenging process of querying agents: What do you think about agents’ “no-response rejections,” which seem to have grown in popularity over the years?
Do you think they’re a necessary evil, given how bogged down agents can get with unsolicited queries? Or do you think this don’t-sell-don’t-tell policy is unfair to writers, who, after hearing only crickets for weeks or months, may be left wondering if agents even received and/or read their e-queries to begin with? Who knows? Maybe they got lost in cyberspace or the spamosphere (the queries, that is, not the agents)?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this particular type of rejection (lucky you), here’s the gist. According to some agents’ submissions guidelines, if you haven’t heard back within a certain period of time after querying them, say eight weeks, you should take it to mean they’re not interested in seeing a submission from you. Once that amount of time passes, you should go straight to your agent query list, maybe on querytracker.com, and select the “query closed/no response” box. Done. Grr.
But here’s what troubles me. Recently, I caught a few posts from agents, some of whom follow the no-response/rejection policy, which gave me pause. In one post, an on-line interview with an agent, the agent invited anyone who’d e-queried him but never heard back during a certain time period the prior year to resubmit. He bravely admitted he’d been so bogged down, he’d fallen hopelessly behind, and had been unable to get to all the e-queries he’d received during that time. Now that he was finally caught up, he wanted to give those queriers a second chance. I just hope they caught this interview, or read it elsewhere, so they knew about it.
Another agent recently blogged that he’d been having computer problems so if writers hadn’t heard back within two weeks of querying to feel free to re-query. I hope his queriers caught his post, too.
Because electronic and human blips like these happen from time to time, does anyone wish that agents would ban the non-response policy, and respond to every query with at least a form rejection, if only to make the rejection official? Or is this simply asking too much of them?
Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, let me clarify: I’m not taking a particular side. Frankly, I’m torn about this issue. I would, however, love to hear what our Paper Wait readers think.
Before I close, a little anecdote. A few years ago, I attended an NJ-SCBWI conference. During the agent panel portion of the morning, after giving their submission wish lists, most agents added that they would only respond to queries if they were interested. The last agent, however, gave her list then added, “Oh, and we respond to every query we receive.”
The entire room broke into applause.