This is a question primarily intended for the agents and editors out there, but, of course, all opinions are welcome.

E-mail submissions have become much more prevalent, which is a good thing. Saves trees, quicker for submitters and recipients both. No down side to it.

Another trend that seems to be on the rise is that of agents and publishers who do not reply to queries. "If we like your query, you'll hear from us. If you don't hear back from us, wee..."

Since most queries are via email now, how hard is it for an agent/editor to create a few Autotext entries. Three basic ones would suffice:

1. No thanks and good luck.
2. Pass, but please keep me in mind for a future project.
3. Send a full.

Once those are created, all that has to be done is to click Reply, enter the appropriate number, hit F3 to inflate the Autotext, then click Send. Done. Everyone knows where they stand, and common, professional courtesy has been observed.

I read agent and editor blogs. I know they're busier than single parents working two jobs (accountant at tax time and air traffic controller) while taking in laundry in their spare time. Still, how long can the above take?

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They might (I'll concede them this possibility) get several hundred inquiries a month. Takes time to read all the sample chapters. But I do agree with you, Dana. If you're gonna read the sample chapters (which, frankly, I sometimes doubt they do) then you have enough damn time to pop off an e-mail reply of some kind.
I don't even care if they read the sample chapters. If they don;t like the story idea, fine. Pass. The ten seconds (literally) it would take to do what I suggest above can't eat into their day that much.
I think it's sad that a person's basic personality can be set on "rude". The industry shouldn't have to develop a code of conduct; it should not have to change to accomodate a minority of people who consider others to have no value. How hard is it to respect that someone has taken the time and effort to write up a submission? It might not be a very good submission, but a little common curtesy isn't hard to fake even if the agent doesn't consider the writer as "worthy" of their time.

PS - if the agent is "too busy" to read submissions, what are they doing? Selling stories? Schmoozing publishers? They better bloody well be, otherwise there's no excuse for it. For that matter - the bastard had better be living it up in a penthouse manor with a dozen servants and restaurant-style chefs on staff. Otherwise there's no excuse to alienate the person or persons whose hard work may be contributing to your yearly income.
My favorites are the agents who do use an auto-reply, but send it so quick you know that they didn't even read your letter, let alone the sample chapters.

I once was a casual social acquaintance of an agent, he knew my situation with getting the run-around from a publisher, and said that if I needed any help or advice I should contact him. I did, and got an auto-reply/rejection in literally the time it took to go from the "message sent" page to the "inbox." Literally 3 whole seconds. If the auto-reply said "Sorry, I'm closed to submissions at this time," I'd have understood, but it was written to imply that the work had been read before rejection which was obviously not true.

I learned from that experience that simple arrogance is also a factor. Publishing is a world of beggars and choosers. With agents they are beggars when dealing with publishers, but choosers when going through the slush pile. So you get some that believe that you will eat their crap and call it ice cream, because you can't deal with most publishers without them.
My own favorites are the one who insist on hard copy and SSAE but still don't reply.
I think to underestimate how many queries these agents receive is a mistake. Donald Maass's firm receives over 500 queries a week, not per month. Does Don read every pitch? Hell no. Interns and assistants go through this mass of would-be authors like a guy looking for his keys in the waste basket. Is this it? No -- toss it. Sample chapters? They read those if they LOVE your query. Even to do what Dana suggests involves making a judgement on 500 queries a week. They don't feel they have the time -- its money spent (salaries) for no other reason than to help writers they have no current interest in.

Remember guys and girls. What we're trying to do is like trying to be a movie star. There are 10 million people in this country who think they can write and want to "cash in."
Well put.
Yet The Maass Agency responds to every query, Jack. It's professional courtesy. I agree with Dana. I would not submit to an agent or publisher who does not at least respond with a form rejection.
Hi Dana,

You have a point but the truth is, unfortunately, they don't have to reply at all. Some agents and editors aren't gonna say anything, even if it's just a simple line. They read through a query and they toss it aside if it's not something that interests them. If it interests them, they write little notes on it (or the assistant runs it by the agent) and they contact the author for a partial or full later, but I believe this is gonna become a more common practice that people are gonna stop answering queries that don't interest them.

It's not fair but the bottom line is, agents and editors are in full control and if they don't wanna respond, they won't. I feel some of them could and that all are not as busy as they claim but a lot say they don't because they've gotten a lot of crazy responses from weird writers about why they rejected their work. So I think it's more along the lines of agents and editors afraid of responding for fear of igniting some situation. I've heard this happens a lot and might be the main reason the "no response unless interested" thing began. I see their point. I've seen how authors respond to reviewers when they give their book a less than perfect review. I can imagine how an unpublished writer (who might think his or her book is the best thing on earth and might have a couple screws loose, and is also a bit desperate) might react to an agent that didn't "fall in love" with their book like they thought the agent should.

I blame this on a lack of professionalism on the writers' part. If I was an agent or editor, I'd only respond to partials and fulls myself.

On the flipside, I've heard some writers griping about not hearing back after sending fulls. I wonder if it's just the case that the agent/editor didn't get the manuscript or some other situation. I think in that case it's simply rude and irresponsible if an agent or editor doesn't respond when someone's sent a partial or a full because they requested that material. If this happens, like say a year goes by the writer should definitely follow-up. So if agents/editors start adopting that policy as well, there's gonna be a lot of angry writers out there.

Best Wishes!
This is why now writers have adopted their own rules. Most say they wait 3-6 months to hear back from a certain agent or editor on a query and if they don't respond, they move on figuring they weren't going to. So, at least now the writers aren't sitting around waiting for no responses like they used to.

Gotta take things into ya' own hands sometimes, LOL.
I've made my own rule. If a publisher's web site says they're too busy to respond unless they're interested, I do them the favor of not adding to their workload and don't submit. Now everyone's happy.

And I swear on a stack of Bibles, if I ever get a deal and an agent approaches me about representation, I won't work with them if they have this rule. I hope I'm tested on this someday.
I think this has been mentioned elsewhere, but another head-scratcher for me is when they ask if you are submitting your query elsewhere. For a full submission, this question makes sense. But for a query? yikes!


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