Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Non-responders, how do you record them?

Like Rebecca, I took a break from submissions over the holidays, and have just now gone back to my files to look at what pieces are where. I've got a ton of non-response entries, and I've noticed they've become more and more common as time goes on. I define a non-responder as someone who doesn't reply within the time they say they will, or who doesn't reply within six months for a short story or query. Though I have gotten responses up to two years after I wrote the person off as a non-responder.

Now if it's a short story market or someone who wanted to review something exclusively, I always chase those. I write a follow up email or letter, and if I still get no response, I send another communication to withdraw the piece from their market so that I can resume submitting. If it's an email query, which more and more agencies prefer, I assume that no response is a rejection because they no doubt get a million queries a month and just can't respond to all of them.

What do you do with the snail mail queries, in which you enclosed an SASE? I haven't been chasing these down, though perhaps I should. I only bother when the person says that I should in their guidelines. Those of you who have chased these, which method did you use? Another snail mail? Email?

My records are getting rather full of non-responders!


  1. Ah, the non-responders...

    I have a nice collection of those too. they frustrate me because I'm not sure what to do with them either, and because they leave the door open to hope. I don't want to keep hoping when there really isn't any chance. Ya know?! :-)

  2. It makes me a little crazy when they say, "If you don't hear from us, we didn't want it" because what if it got lost in the mail? Or in cyberspace? Or what if... and I still haven't figured out what to do about this one... the agent was on maternity leave when my query arrived?

    So far, I've just let the non-responders go. There's always another agent out there, and another book for me to write.

  3. That's my usual philosophy too, but I can think of multiple cases where someone let a non-responder go, and then found out the acceptance or request for full got lost in the mail. I've had the editor of a magazine come up to me at a con and ask what I thought of his long response to my submission, which I'd never gotten. He sent it again. Another friend didn't get an acceptance letter and left the editor hanging for a year, which made the editor pretty angry until he learned that the response hadn't gotten through.

    Though I really don't think there are a bunch of acceptances that got lost in the ether on their way to my mailbox :-)

  4. I guess if something was requested, it wouldn't hurt to check in every six months or so. In fact, come to think of it, I've got an editor I ought to e-mail...

    Rather than leaving no stone unturned, I'm skipping down the beach of possibilities. Perhaps I should be more methodical.

  5. I haven't had any non-responders to submissions, although I did follow up with one who was taking longer than he said he would - he very politely said it would take more time, which was totes fine. All my non-responders have been to queries, which I just write off.

  6. I just assume non responders are a no and move on. :)

  7. Definitely don't make that assumption with short story markets. 100% of the time when I've queried a non-responder, I've either reminded the person that my story was on their desk - and that's led to a couple of sales - or found out that their response got lost. As it so happens, I've never turned up a form rejection by querying a non-responding story market, so make sure to chase those.

  8. Emily, I need to thank you for this post. It prompted me to send an e-mail which has now turned into a consideration. Tee hee.


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