Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Best Form of Rejection

There's been a lot of buzz in the cybersphere lately over the issue of The Form Rejection vs. The Silent Rejection.

It started with agents Rachelle Gardner and Jill Corcoran giving their reasons for NOT responding, which you can read here and here.

Then the ever-fabulous Janet Reid shot back with reasons why these ladies had the wrong idea, prompting Nathan Bransford to ask his readers to give their opinions, and did they ever.

I recently had two queries that never made it to the intended recipients. Both agents were kind enough to ask me to re-send when I followed up, and one of those wound up being my full request - a request I would have missed out on if I'd assumed her lack of response translated to lack of interest in my project.

So here's what I think: if an agent wants to adopt the "no response means no" policy, that's fine. But at the very least, they need to give a time frame in which we can assume they've passed, and have an auto-response in place to let queriers know their e-mail was received. There's simply too much uncertainty (and anxiety) otherwise.

In all honesty, we as queriers are expected to do our homework on these agents. We're expected to flatter them, to demonstrate knowledge of their client list. And since professionalism is a two-way street, I do think writer's are at least owed the peace of mind to know their query made it safely into the agent's inbox in return.

That said, I don't hate the Silent No policy, not after all the rejections I've received. Having a heart attack every time a new e-mail pops up in my inbox isn't fun, and neither is having yet another agent tell me that my dream agent is out there somewhere... but it's just not them. With the no-response-means-no policy, you'd automatically know the e-mail contained good news, because they wouldn't be contacting you otherwise. Then again, I have received some personalized feedback with my non-silent rejections, and I do get a certain sense of closure from knowing the reason behind the "no."

So what say you, peeps? Is silence better than the impersonal words of a form rejection? Or are empty words better than no words at all?


  1. I also have a heart attack every time my email ping goes off. But that would only matter if my queries weren't 80% radio silent. And if it really bugged me, I could turn it off.

    I don't mind "no response means no" as long as it's posted with a time frame, AND accompanied by an auto-respond, because, Hello? Your full?

    I have to be honest, I suspect that the no respond policies probably grew out of frustration of the extreme slushiness of slush piles. You and I both know that our queries are some of the best out there, just because we *have* done our homework. We're respectful, our query does what it's supposed to, we follow guidelines, etc.

    One last thing: Silence is never, never, never okay as a rejection for a request. I really don't care if some agent decides they're too good to respond to my query, but once they ask for material? I expect communication, and it had better not be form. One or two sentences, at least. Because, as you said, professionalism is a two-way street.

  2. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other but with the form rejections, after I see the word 'sorry' I don't even bother reading on so I think they could possibly cut out half of the cordal 'this business is subjective' and 'we can only take on so many' phrases. We're rejected. We don't care. lol

  3. I certainly prefer some kind of response, as a writer, but if I were an agent I have no idea how I would find the time to respond to so many people.

  4. I agree. If you aren't going to respond, at least have your system set up to send an auto respond. Then I know you RECEIVED the query.

  5. lol I just got a second rejection from an agent who already rejected me a month ago. It didn't hurt quite as much this time =P

  6. I maybe agree that a response isn't necessary to a query if there is a received auto response?

    But I've had CPers who have had a full or partials requested and never received a response after that--even after additional follow-ups by the writers to politely check in with the agents. I've also had a CPer who couldn't get her agent to respond to her email AFTER being signed with her and working with her for over a year.

    So I think the problem is deeper than just queries, and that is what all the stress around responses is about. Queries are just one symptom of the larger problem.

  7. The auto-reply to say they've received my query always makes me feel better!

  8. I'd rather wait eight weeks for a form rejection letter than never receive a reply. For me, it's about reciprocation. If I send you a query, I want to work with you. If you don't want to work with me, you send me a letter. It's that simple.

  9. I'd prefer SOME type of response of course, but if not a time frame of when to assume a "no" would be great. Otherwise, how do we know if they take 3 weeks or 3 months?

  10. I agree--I'd like an auto-response and a time frame. I don't hate the no response means no policy, but I've had times, too, where I assumed they just didn't want it, and a few weeks later got a response back asking for a partial draft. >.<

    But I agree with Heidi. There's a bigger underlying problem. If an agent didn't follow up with me after a couple months with my full draft, even after I'd nudged them, I'd be angry.