Friday, September 23, 2011

There’s been a lot lately about the “no response means no” policy that some agents have.  Not having yet queried anyone my opinion is only academic.  But I don’t think it will matter.  Everyone is going to want my fictional novel.  All the agents will be calling within hours of getting my query asking for the full or offering representation from my sample pages. 

This may sound like bragging but I’m just being realistic.  This book will knock their socks off.  Everyone will want one and whichever agent I choose after I get all the offers will make millions.  It won’t even matter that I can’t spell or understand grammar.  And forget about promotions, but my book won’t need anyone to promote it.  People will see it and just know how good it is.  And once they’ve read it they’ll buy another copy and tell all their friends.  So you’ll forgive me if I don’t really care what their “no” policy is because it just won’t apply to me. 

OK, that was fun to write.  Hopefully nobody thought I was serious. In reality I think as long as their policy is clearly spelled out on the website I’ll live with whatever it is.  Personally I like closure.  I’m the kind of person that keeps deluding themselves.  Maybe it got lost in cyberspace.  Maybe the mailman delivered it to the wrong house.  Maybe... maybe…maybe.  I need something definitive with no more maybes.  But if I know that there will not be a response (unless they call to offer representation and who wouldn't really?)  I’ll be able to deal with it.  As long as I know beforehand. 

I found three blogs this week that talked about this subject in general but about author/agent relationships in specific.  One is by an agent and two are by writers.  Go here, here and here to read them.The think I like about them is that they are all down to earth.  And while we may all want to believe that everyone will love our book and no one will be able to say no it's just not going to happen.  Rejection is part of writing.  And really, how many of you who work or have ever worked liked every rule your company had?  No?  I didn't think so.  No matter what industry, no matter where, there are going to be policies you don't like. 

When I find my agent I want a partnership.  I want someone who will give me their best, just as I will give them mine.  So in the long run, their response policy just isn’t going to make or break the deal. 


  1. When querying, you HAVE to think about how picky you are about spending 10-15 dollars on a book. They're staking their reputation on your book. So, yeah. You think it's hard to pick three books out of a bookstore, I can't imagine how hard their job is.

  2. Good way to think about it. I would never want to be an agent. I'd like the reading part but the contract negotiations and talking on the phone are pretty high on my NOT to do list.

  3. I've read a lot on the interwebz about this too this past week or so. It seems that a lot of people who've commented understand that agents are busy folk but they almost universally want to know, even if it's just a 'no thanks' form email.

    I wonder if this concept (leave the supplicant hanging by their fingernails for eternity) is one of those things left over from the 'days of yore' halcyon times of print publishing where the agent was the first gatekeeper to the promised land?

    A bit like the quarterly payment schedule where the author is waaaaay at the end of the line and doesn't see any $$ for 6 months to a year - I'm not kidding here. It'll probably be March next year before I even get a whiff of my royalties - which as you so rightly pointed out will be in the squillions for me too!

    However ... rant over ... back on topic ... perhaps it's because we do see our pitching to agents (and publishers) as an invitation to an equitable partnership that will be of benefit to all, rather than that hierarchical imbalance of power that it has been in the past.

    Perhaps the advent of self-publishing and eBooks is truly the great equaliser.

    Janet Reid AKA the Query Shark, put it very succinctly on her blog. It's worth a squiz if you haven't already:

  4. I did read Janet Reid's blog and found it interesting. Personally I agree with a lot of what she said but I know there are as many ways to be an agent as there are to be a writer. I agree that if we can treat everything as a partnership between author/agent/publisher the system will improve.

    Of course your book will sell squillions! I'd expect no less of it.

  5. Aww, we should all have such confident attitudes about our writing! Not at the expense of story or grammar, of course...
    Why is the no response thing such a big deal? Isn't it a lot easier on the author than an endless pile of rejections?
    The only thing I can see would be the frustrating part of wondering whether the agent ever even received the query...

  6. I don't know why it's such a big deal. Soon though everyone will turn their mind to something else they can complain about and it will be forgotten.

  7. Hehe. You'll have to check my blog on Thurs. I wrote a post last week, but swapped it with the award post for today. Same subject - very similar post altogether!