Saturday, September 10, 2011

"When no response means no," is it right?

Hello readers,

For today's post I'd like to share some of the posts I've been reading lately from three different Literary Agents who have offered three different perspectives about the same issue. I'm going to explore opinions from Literary Agents Rachelle Gardner, Jill Corcoran, and Janet Reid have about the "no response means no" policy.

This policy basically means if a certain amount of time has passed (typically listed on literary agent's rules for query submissions), the author can assume that the answer was no. This saves the literary agent from having to write a no letter.

But is it right? Let's see what the LAs have to say.

Let's look at Rachelle Gardner's post first:

Our agency has a policy that if you send a query and you don’t hear back from us in 60 days, you can consider it a “pass” and move on. I’m well aware that writers don’t like this and honestly I don’t like it either, but I’ve had to make choices about how to spend my time. Sending rejection letters had to go to the bottom of the priority list.

To read more about Rachelle Gardner's views follow this link:

Rachelle Gardner actually linked her article to Jill's as well, but here is a paragraph from her website.
I have been asked by quite a number of people why I don't send rejections, so I thought I'd post my answer here as well...

The answer is 2 prong...time and karma

For those interested, here is the link to her post.

And here is an article from Janet Reid, who actually wrote in response to these two letters.  This is a paragraph from her post.

"No response means no" is the newest way many agents are choosing to handle the glut of queries.

Agents I respect do this.

I profoundly disagree with the premise they use to justify its use:

1. It takes too much time to reply.

That means you haven't figured out yet how to simply your process. I reply to every query. It doesn't take me hours. I have an auto-signature that is the text of the reply. I click reply, I click "sig-query no" from my five options, and click send. Total time: 3 seconds. If you get 100 queries a day, that's 300 seconds to reply. Do the math: 5 minutes.

I respect all of these Literary Agents and have found that all of their blogs are both informative and entertaining.

I've found that I can understand both premises of the argument. As a writer, I'll admit I'd want some feedback on my work, but I understand why literary agents have adapted this policy of no response.

What do you think? Is "no response means no" appropriate or should literary agents respond to all query letters?

~Danica Page
(who is really excited about the new design elements on the blog)


  1. We've heard so much about the disintegration of common courtesy in our society. This is a perfect example. Agents expect (and demand) that queries be polite and that they're informed if it's a multiple submission. Common courtesy. But when no response means no, that's the complete opposite. I greatly respect Janet Reid's take on the subject.

    We all just need to be a little bit nicer to each other, and yes, it does take time out of our day to do that.

    (And sorry for the late response--since I just found your blog, I'm catching up, and this particular post really caught my eye)

  2. You are totally fine with the "late post" I don't think there is anything that truly consitutes as a "late post." And I'm glad it caught your eye.

    A very interesting perspective Annie. I hadn't really thought of the fact that writers have to be informed if it's been submitted multiple times. Great point.

    Thanks for commenting!


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