I have to say, in this case, I personally side with the authors on this one. I am personally someone who thinks the arguments used by publishers and agents such as:
- Taking the no response option reduces the amount of negative letters I get from my rejections I send out.
- The time it takes to write a rejection letter is just too time consuming
- The business world uses this so it is OK if we do.
I for one believe that answering letters is a PROFESSIONAL thing to do. I also believe that the approach the agents and publishers take when opening the door to submissions can prevent many of these issues.
We don't have to respond to those negative comments. Most of those are coming from crack-pot writers who will never be successful in the business anyway so why do we even need to respond to them. Along the same lines, if you provide a legitimate reason for rejecting the story, then there is not problem. I also believe that if the guidelines are clear on the publisher or agency website as to what they accept and do not accept, then this can also prevent the problems. Saying "I take everything and I look at everything" or " I want a strong story with strong characters" gives the authors absolutely nothing to work with. Still, this all comes back to the same point I made at the beginning. Why respond?
Secondly, when it comes to a response, it really doesn't take that long. I have timed my reponses and found that it takes me 1 minute to write a response. This is not a "form letter" but often contains similar comments that I say time and time again to authors. Let's face it. Most authors make the same mistakes so the comments I make in rejections will often be very similar.
I should also add that if an agent or a publisher says they take a look at everything, or at conferences, tells every writer to send a full manuscript because they either don't like pitch sessions or don't want to hurt the writers' feelings by telling them no to their face have also opened a door to having to respond.
Finally, the concept that the business world does this so we can do it to is simply a Bandwagon Fallacy. Just because other people do it doesn't make it right.
Look, the solutions are simple.
- If you think submissions are coming in too fast and furious for you, limit what you take and make it clear to the authors your policy. Here at Greyhaus, I make it very clear, I only take romance and women's fiction. Submit something other than that and you will get a quick form response to that your story is not what I am looking for. End of story.
- If you think your submission load is too high, quit telling people to send you material.
- If you have an email system for submissions, put in an auto reponse that tells people that at least the submission made it to your INBOX. I am sorry to say this, but technology is not all that you think it is. Things do get lost. (I sent a fax 4 times to a publisher this week only to find out they had a jam on their end).
- And if you are a publisher that really isn't open to new authors, then simply tell the public that. You would be surprised, but authors can take the truth.
As always, IMHO,