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Musing ~ 12/1/18: The Importance of Being Receptive

Literary Agents, you’re all fabulous.

Seriously, we writers greatly appreciate you!  We appreciate the way you weave your magic with publishers and make certain we get the best deals, lots of exposure and an over-allsense of well-being.


There’s one thing that’s been both puzzling and frustrating to me.

How come you never call?

Or more accurately, why do you ask for a copy of our full manuscript and then we never hear from you again?


I’ve come to accept the fact that some of you don’t respond to queries unless you’re interested.  You have your no-response means no, policies. OK.  Although the lovely Jessica Faust of Bookends Literary Agency created, a very succinct YouTube video about why she hated the no response means no policy. I’ve added it for your convenience:

In fact, I highly suggest you subscribe to her YouTube Channel as she has a whole series of helpful videos. And I really wished she accepted my genre!

But back to the subject at hand.

I recently posted this question on the #askagent Twitter feed. No literary agent responded:

Is it all right to query another agentat the same agency, if the one who originally asked for a full decides to focus on current clients? Especially if they don’t respond to your asking if yourwork is no longer being considered?

This has happened four times within my writing career – possibly more – I just remembered the fourth incident.  I’m old, after all.  Three asked for full copies and one asked for a partial – wait I just recalled another, so make that five.

I won’t name names, since many of them I’ve forgotten or the agency’s name.

  1. The first agent that asked for a full, suddenly decided she was no longer accepting queries and was going to focus solely on her current clients. She said nothing about the full copies she had (according to QueryTracker) and never responded when I asked. I did contact another agent and asked if it was all right if I sent it to her.  She said she’d have to check with the original agent and I eventually got the OK, although she rejected it  for a very confusing reason.
  2. The agent disappeared.  I kid you not.  One moment she was there and the next minute her existence seemed wiped off the net. No explanation from her or her agency and there was no else who took my genre at the agency.
  3. A partial request and another disappearance with no explanation and I’m wondering if that agent was kidnapped by aliens or something.
  4. A full request with no response after nudges. 
  5. Another full request and although my nudges got responses, I never received a final answer, just emails saying she was looking at it. That was four years ago. I’m assuming it was a no.
  6. Oh, wait there are six! Just recently another request for a full and the same thing is happening that did with number one, except it doesn’t look like I can send the work to someone else if I’m interpreting the guidelines correctly.

Literary Agents, I hope yourealize that when you ask for a full or partial you have our hearts in the palmof your hands.  Some of us just started out, others like me have been at this for decades.  That hurts the most at least for me because I’m finally feeling like I’ve achieved my own writing mojo, then the signals get all mixed when you don’t reply.  We doubt ourselves, we wonder if we’ve done something wrong.  I’m not saying you owe us an explanation, but a yes or a no would be nice.  Again, I don’t mean queries.  I’m repeating this because I want it understood I am talking about feeling as if you’re finally close to your goal and then you the writer are left hanging because that is what you are doing.  I’m not trying to insult anyone; I just feel this needs discussion. 

My point is if you know you’re not going to accept our work, just send us a yes or a no so we can move on.   Or pass our work along to a colleague if you haven’t read it yet. I can’t speak for all writers, but you don’t have to give me a full explanation, I know you don’t have the time for that.  However, we’re talking about our being at the door, waiting for you to invite us in. And we know you’re at home – well unless you disappear.

I would very interested in hearing what literary agents have to say about this and of course, fellow authors, please feel free to comment on similar experiences.  I can’t say it will get us anywhere, but at least you’ll be able to get it off your collective chests.

Peace ~


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