Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Do Editors And Agents Use Form Letters

So you have sent out your latest project and cannot wait to hear back from those editors and agents. After weeks or months go by, you start to see responses. Not only are these rejection letters, these are form letters and you start to grumble. Darn them! Why do they use form letters?

Let me first say that the answer is not that they don't care, or that they are not reading your project. The answer is actually two-fold.

First, writing rejection letters takes time. I have been answering submissions this morning and started timing the response from opening the letter, logging it in the database and answering. Each submission takes about 1 1/2 minutes to 3 minutes to respond. Now calculate that by the hundreds editors and agents go through and you can see the time factor.

I do get that some of you will scream that "time should not be a deciding factory!" We understand you took a lot of time writing that query letter. We understand that you poured your blood, sweat and tears into the project. But, it is the second reason why the use of the form letter is standard.

There are only so many ways to say the story is not what we are looking for. A lot of times, rejections come down to either a subjective call, or simply the fact that the story does not fit the guidelines of what we are looking for. How many different ways are there to say that? For example...

Thank you so much for submitting your project. As you know, here at Greyhaus, I only acquire romance and women's fiction. Your New Adult Space Opera is simply not what I am looking for.

Best of luck with your project....

Get the idea?

The thing is that editors and agents know what they are looking for. Your query will either have what we want or it won't. So, coming up with an overly creative way of saying, "Sorry, the story doesn't fit what we want" isn't going to happen. It isn't that we don't care, we just can't say it any other way.

But think of it this way. If you do get that form letter, be thankful. There are a lot of editors and agents out there who believe a no answer is an answer. For me, I think that is unfair to you.

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