Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 4, 2011

No Response Editors and Agents

I get hundreds of e-mails every day that I have to deal with and I know the agents and editors do too, so I asked my friend and SCBWI ARA, Laurie Wallmark if she could write up the instructions on how to set up an easy rejection form that editors and agents can use.

TO SET UP AN EASY TO USE REJECTION EMAIL. (You only need to do this one time.)

1. Set up a new email account called “rejection.”           

Click “Tools”

Click “Options”

Click “Mail Setup”

Click “E-mail Accounts”

Click “New”

Hint: Look at an existing email account to see all the answers you’ll need

2. Setup up a signature called “rejection sig” that has your standard rejection.

Click “Tools”

Click “Options”

Click “Mail Format”

Click “Signatures”

Click “New”

Fill in your standard rejection answer.

In the upper right hand corner, choose

E-mail account            “rejection”

New                             “rejection sig”

Replies                        “rejection sig”

TO USE AN EASY TO USE REJECTION EMAIL.

1. Hit reply

2. Click on “Account” (it’s right below the send button)

3. Choose “rejection”

4. Hit send

Here are Mac instructions:

This will set up a new signature on your e-mail address that you wish to use for the form rejection. There is a way to set up another account as described above, but this seems easier.

On Mac in Mail

Click on Mail -> Preferences
In pop up window, Click on Signatures button on top

Click on the mailbox you want to use for your form rejections

Click on + under the middle window

This will bring up Signature#x

Rename it to “Rejection” or whatever you want to call it (You can set up multiple ones  for different types of rejection or even one requesting more pages)

In the right hand box, type the words you want to associate with that signature.

Leave Choose signature as None

Click box for Place Signature above quoted text

Close this window

When you reply to sender:
On the line that has From: ‘your e-mail address’
Signature: choose the one you want to send

And send it.

I hope this helps simplify things for the people  A simple “Not interested” will help so many writers trying to get published.  These instructions look like a simple way to reply without keeping you from your friends and family.  Please give it a try.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

PS:  Thank you Laurie!  Thanks Sarah Lawrenson for the Mac Instructions.


Responses

  1. Kathy and Laurie, this was a WONderful thing to address!

    I can tell you that, although I sympathize with Jill (it must be very difficult knowing that your reply is disappointing someone), but to me, in this submission game, there is NOthing worse than the waiting or the never-receiving-a-response, regardless of what that response is.

    For sure, agents and editors are probably buried in paper (so am I, in my own way), and there are only 24 hours in a day, but I would think most rejections would be a “form” rejection and by email, it’s only a few seconds once the form is set up. If someone sends a SASE, stuffing envelopes with rejection slips is not so time-consuming that someone can’t do it, including an assistant. This has always been my take on it.

    The right match between agent and prospective author or illustrator is something REALLY hard to achieve, so if someone sends in a submission, they should be doing so EXPECTING rejection. If they can’t handle it, it shouldn’t fall on the agent’s or editor’s shoulders—they have a job to do. And with that said, agents and editors know that sending rejections is part of their job and need to put that in its place, too.

    It’s a tough business and obviously not everyone can get represented or published, but oh, how glorious when it DOES happen!

    Thanks for this invaluable effort, ladies! You are quite the team 🙂
    Donna

    Like

  2. Hi Kathy and Laurie,

    Laurie, I have a mac and tried to do the above but this must be instructions for a pc. I was not sure how to make it work on a mac. I am willing to give this a try if I can set it up and if I find it works for me.

    But, I do want to address that I give a month window….so if you don’t hear in a month then it is a no—same as receiving a rejection but it is up to the writer to remember they subbed and when. So, the no’s are not going “rudely” into a black hole…the guidelines are very clear and there is nothing rude about it.

    Donna, sending rejections is not part of an agent’s job. Our job is to sell our clients’ work and have time to read their work, think about how to grow their career, etc. I can easily be closed to subs and only accept subs from conferences I speak at or by referral…many agents do this… but I have chosen not to.

    As I’ve said before, if an author finds this rude or difficult to deal with (knowing to calendar their queries and noting when a month = r) then don’t query me. I am not the agent you want since you don’t agree with the way I run my business.

    Kathy and Laurie—I love that you are trying to find a way for me to get this to work for me and for authors. Much appreciated.

    Yours,
    jill

    Like

    • Hi, Jill 🙂

      I read your blog AFTER I responded to this one. I saw that you give a 1-month window. That’s different, actually. And yes, I agree that it’s up to the author to keep track of that, so after a month it IS an answer without the actual correspondence. Totally agreed on this, so I’m sorry if I was being critical of you initially, lumping you in with those in THIS category:

      What I was referring to is when it’s stated simply “no response = a no” and it’s left open-ended with no time frame. I’ve seen this often enough to be annoying. To me, that’s just cruel and I would never submit to anyone when those are the terms. Years ago, when I had done a “round” of submitting, most responses were received within 2-3 months (email submissions weren’t the way at the time). I had never heard from one particular agent, then 6 months later I got a response.

      So I apologize for not having read your blog first. And honestly, I think it’s inconsiderate of authors or illustrators who somewhat pelt you with correspondence AFTER the rejection or even your request to see their work. We’re ALL anxious to find success in this business, but there needs to be consideration on both sides.

      Thanks!
      Donna

      Like

  3. Interesting. I just read her blog post on it. As long as we know before we send that she isn’t going to send a rejection notice, then we really can’t complain. I’ve seen other agents/editors state that they’ll contact within a certain amount of time if interested. If not, it’s a no. What’s interesting is Jill mentioning that she gets a lot of her queries via her phone (emails) and how time consuming it would be to cut and paste, etc. So as much as technology has made life easier, I think it has made things tougher, too. Tougher on both sides. If a writer received a letter in the mail from Jill and it was a no, would the writer then take the time to write another letter with questions about his/her submission, in hopes of getting another reply. Probably not. Emails make people feel that instant connection and only add to a society that wants instant gratification. The days of letter writing are pretty much behind us, I guess. The more we advance technologically, the more I wish I could be transported back in time, even if for just one day, to see what it was like to live without computers and cell phones. And to ride a horse everywhere you went.
    CB

    Like

  4. this is most interesting. As an artist agent, I too run into this ‘problem’ but I don’t see it as a problem. I see it as an honor…part of the bigger picture of being in this business. I answer everyone of the ‘requests’ I get. Most are sent email with samples, so it’s just moments to look, respond (I too know in seconds) and maybe even give a bit of advice about what I work on. These moments are my ‘giving back.’
    Writing takes longer…. but basically it’s not a lot of time to say nicely NO, not for me…a comment or two to help…and it means SO much to the writer/artist.

    I too am annoyed though when they keep sending after you’ve totally said ‘the style isn’t for me.’ But it’s their HOPE getting the best of them.
    It’s all in a days work….. 🙂

    Like

  5. These look like Outlook instructions. Not sure about Outlook Express.

    Here are Mac instructions:

    This will set up a new signature on your e-mail address that you wish to use for the form rejection. There is a way to set up another account as described above, but this seems easier.

    On Mac in Mail

    Click on Mail -> Preferences
    In pop up window, Click on Signatures button on top

    Click on the mailbox you want to use for your form rejections

    Click on + under the middle window

    This will bring up Signature#x

    Rename it to “Rejection” or whatever you want to call it (You can set up multiple ones for different types of rejection or even one requesting more pages)

    In the right hand box, type the words you want to associate with that signature.

    Leave Choose signature as None

    Click box for Place Signature above quoted text

    Close this window

    When you reply to sender:
    On the line that has From: ‘your e-mail address’
    Signature: choose the one you want to send

    And send it.

    Courtesy of my dear wife who is the Mac expert in the family.

    Like

    • Sarah,

      Thank you so much for putting up the instructions for Mac users. I still feel this might help an editor or agent with the amount of mail they receive.

      Kathy

      Like

  6. Thanks, Sarah!

    so do i have to create a new email for this? does mobile me give us more than one email?

    Plus, still not sure I think this is necessary. I have found….and I come at this from the pov of a person who was paid much money to help people make their startup companies successful….that spending any time on this past pushing the delete button is not moving my biz nor my clients’ biz forward.

    the month is the same as a r letter. Why is it not considered that the writer needs to do some of the work?

    Like

  7. Hi Jill,

    No new e-mail required. Just the new signature on a Mac. PCs are more complicated, of course. You might have to set it up and see what signature comes up automatically.

    There are multiple sides to this. I understand about where your focus should be. I feel having a time limit and/or saying you have responded to all queries received by X date (like Janet Reid does on her blog, but I think she also sends rejections) works for the most part.

    I think part of the problem comes in with the basic nature of e-mail. The more we pile on the internet, the more glitches happen. And I’ve been seeing more instances of e-mails that never make it to their destination lately. With snail mail, you can ask the P.O. to tell you your package has arrived. Not so with your generic e-mail.

    The person sending it can ask for a return receipt. Personally, I hate those and do not allow my e-mail to respond to them. But that’s my personal e-mail and I’m not interested in telling the sender when or if I’ve read what they sent me. It’s usually from some business.

    So maybe the writer needs to send a return receipt requested e-mail? Would that be too annoying to deal with? I think Outlook allows you to say you want them all returned without bothering to ask.

    I also think some of the places that have forms to fill in rather than allowing for e-mail submissions can have those forms send an auto ‘we received your submission’ response.

    Beyond the electronic glitches is the perception that not replying is rude. I think this is in the eye of the beholder. Seems to me there needs to be some communication on this issue in the industry as a whole. I remember when Nathan Bransford said he never really understood the writer’s angst about waiting until he submitted his own manuscript.

    But, as you say, if you choose to have this as your business model and have it stated this is the way you function, those who submit to you have accepted that’s the way it rolls.

    It’s this wonderful crawling into the digital age and the fallout of change that’s making this topic more interesting than it probably deserves.

    Like

  8. Donna,
    I guess that is why I am disappointed in Kathy’s post on this….no mention of my one month deadline–my promise to authors. Simply the word ‘rude’.

    Just goes to show that even with the best intentions, and I have known Kathy for years and think she is an amazing person who is a huge advocate for writers, editors, agents and the industry as a whole, editorials are most often biased and readers of the editorial without reading source articles are often left with a negative impression (or positive if it is a positive editorial). Plus, most people never do go back to read the source material since everyone is pressed for time.
    jill

    Like

    • Jill,

      Sorry I used the word “rude.” It was a poor choice and since I put your link up first, I thought people would read your post first. But you are right, that left people who did not read it, not knowing about the “one month” window. Please believe me, I was just trying to help you, in addition to other agents, and editors, because I know how stressful all that e- mail can be on everyone in the industry. I hope you will accept it as I intended it. I wasn’t really writing just to you, but I guess it came across as though I was. I will put in your policy so others will know.

      Kathy

      Like

      • Actually, Kathy, it came across as you and Laurie putting up the instructions to help any agents or editors who read your blog. I definitely didn’t think it sounded like you were addressing or criticizing Jill directly.

        I understand where the word “rude” could cross one’s mind if it was the kind of policy I mentioned about there being no time period involved. I’ve never agreed with that and consider that as completely disregarding the writers or illustrators, and yes “rude” in that way.

        I DO think that, as I think Chris may have mentioned, doing business over the internet has its positives and negatives. It seems that this is the kind of issue that arises largely due to that. Its immediacy and ease (for the most part) creates postives and negatives. I have to tell you, the couple of times I received quick responses (literally within 1-3 days) it was great, ’cause the “limbo” thing didn’t linger long—-and they were rejections!

        Your post was meant to help, not hurt, and I hope any misunderstandings through this get cleared up, and I’m sure you’ll do that privately, too 🙂
        Donna

        Like

  9. I don’t know either Kathy or Jill personally but I try to keep up on both of your blogs. I read Jill’s post when it appeared and thought it was brilliant. (Even shared the stuff about karma with my husband and son over dinner because we’re interested in such things.)

    A few points:

    1. Kathy wrote at the end of her post: “but these instructions look like a simple way to reply without ruining anyone’s life.”

    You’re probably joking, Kathy, but we all know it’s easy to accidentally miscommunicate online. Words are important, especially when they’re written and “published” and these words call for a little perspective. No one’s life is being ruined because an agent did or did not send a form rejection. Which brings me to…

    2. Why are people talking about form rejection letters!?! It’s one thing to send Jill a private message with tips for how to set up an “easy” rejection letter if she wants. (By the way, I’m a Mac person, too, and the whole PC-centric thing always is irritating.) It’s another to do it all here. It feels weird to me, almost as if you’re saying you’re trying to be helpful, but, really, you’re criticizing her business decisions. That’s your right, I guess, but is that really helpful to writers?

    3. Jill has the right to run her business how she wants to. She states that if you don’t hear from her in a month, it’s a no. WHY does getting a form rejection make any writer feel better? Yes, sometimes email gets lost in the spam filter or whatever and maybe a rejection tells people “okay, I guess she DID get it.” Generally, though, if it doesn’t bounce back to you, she probably got it. If you don’t hear from her, it’s a no. If you don’t like the policy, don’t query agents that have it.

    This reply may sound grumpier than I intend, and I certainly don’t mean to make it sound like it’s some kind of Kathy vs Jill thing (can we get Team t-shirts?) but I’m tired of the writing community lamenting this. (I’ve seen it in several other places but have never replied.) Let’s focus on what’s important: Doing our best work, finding the right agent for us and supporting high-quality books, especially for kids and teens.

    Peace,
    Kellye

    Like

    • Kellye,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am in no way trying to tell Jill how to do her business. She has been very successful with her clients and that is the most important thing. I probably should not have used the word “rude,” since that made me sound more like I was complaining, instead of trying to help.

      Jills “one month” policy is one that other agents have used, but do not keep, so it is easily ignored by some writers and they hold on to hope. Of course, you will say that is their problem (a problem that I get tons of e-mails on asking me what they should do), but if there was a little button that could be pushed that would alleviate this, then why not offer it.

      I wasn’t writing this just to JIll. If it was, I would have just sent her and e-mail with the instructions. I felt it might help a lot of editors and agents out there with the tremedous amount of work they have to do.
      No one has to listen to me. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. I think too many people don’t put there ideas out there when they think of something that might help.

      As I said in the post, I meant no disrespect to Jill. Heck, I like Jill and are supper happy with her success.

      Kathy

      Like

      • Hi Kathy,

        Thank you for taking the time to reply, as well! I never thought you were being disrespectful to Jill. Just as you say you were not writing solely to Jill–but to all agents who have this policy–my response wasn’t so much only to you as to all of the writers out there who seem so unhappy about such policies. (As i said, I’ve been seeing it more and more, have felt frustrated and haven’t weighed in until now.)

        I also agree with you that it’s good to put ideas out–that’s what blogs are for, right?–especially if you have an idea that might offer an easy solution to a problem. I guess I felt as if you were coming down (for lack of a better phrase) pretty hard on Jill specifically, and that made me feel frustrated that perhaps the idea that this is her business to run as she wants may have gotten lost in the shuffle. Whether it would have helped to tweak your post a bit (everyone’s an editor, right?) or if it was the way I read it, I don’t know, but that’s why I wrote most of my long response.

        For many years I worked as a self-employed freelancer, writing for magazines such as Parents, Better Homes and Gardens, Glamour and others. I also was The Des Moines Register’s teen book reviewer for a while. During this time, I received so many email pitches from PR people each day, I ended up creating several “canned” responses and storing those as signatures. All I had to do was hit “reply” to the email, plug in the signature and hit send. Still, it took a long time to do this, even with a simple system such as this. And although the amount of mail I received seemed large (and took up valuable work, creative, family time), it was not even close to what I imagine Jill and other agents receive every day.

        I guess the biggest issue here is that some writers seem to feel that a “no response means no” policy is somehow mean and/or unprofessional. I don’t get that at all. You probably saw that Jill had some interesting feedback about this on her Facebook page…I was shocked when one guy said her policy lacked “common courtesy” and then his comments deteriorated from there. I’m probably not going to change anybody’s mind, but it seems to me that serious writers understand that there are myriad reasons an agent might pass on their work, there are likely to be many “passes” during a successful career, and it isn’t worth giving any energy, time or attention to. I think it was Jennifer Laughran who once wrote a post where she compared passing on a manuscript to shopping for coats. You might see a blue coat and like it, but then move on–for any number of reasons. The sales person doesn’t come up to you and press you, “Why didn’t you like that blue coat?”

        I’ve “gone long” again. Thank you for listening and for what you do for the writing community!

        Best,
        kellye

        Like

  10. Yes, Jill, you’re right—-Kathy IS amazing 🙂 And honestly, I take responsibility for responding to the post BEFORE having read your blog! It wasn’t really Kathy’s fault, but my own because I typically respond to posts immediately; it’s habit.

    I’m very glad I read your blog because I was also curious about what you said in reference to the karma and wanted to know more about your feeling bad about rejections, you also being a writer. I’m not one to believe in karma, though; I see the turnaround as more that you became more effective in your work having lifted a monkey off your back—that, plus timing, etc. AND you being an agent longer and all that goes with that. Building a reputation takes time and I think that plays into it; no one is going to be selling books all over the place the first year out of the gate. You’ve become very successful for all the reasons you are a good agent, and with time the editors and other agents have come to know you, too.

    As far as I can see, there’s nothing to feel bad about here. I’m glad Kathy posted what she did, and I’m glad you posted what you did. Any enlightenment is good, especially once little misunderstandings are cleared up right away, as is what happened here 🙂 It’s so nice to deal with straightforward, honest people who behave like adults 😀 Yay for all of us!
    Donna

    Like

  11. More from agent, Janet Reid.

    http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2011/09/no-youre-wrong-and-heres-why.html

    Like

    • Hmmmm…see, now, what Janet said about the fact that it only takes about 3 seconds to send one form rejection by email is how I always assumed it would be (simply from my experience using email) which is why I couldn’t understand why it is considered a hassle by various agencies and publishers who accept email queries.

      Also, even through snail mail, a form rejection takes little more time than an email form rejection. If a writer includes the standard, required SASE, stuffing a form letter in and dropping it in the “outgoing mail” bin is basically just as simple and of no cost to the agent/publisher.

      I’m thinking it’s only burdensome and overly time-consuming if someone writes personal replies to ALL the queries, which may be what Jill was struggling with.

      Personally, I am VERY complimented by and sincerely appreciate whenever I receive a personal rejection letter, though don’t expect them. I often imagine how busy agents and editors are and take a form rejection letter in stride.

      It’s not that I don’t understand Jill’s (and others’) perspective on this, and if the policy is “no response = no”, than at least there’s a time frame. I still prefer, and know I always will, an actual rejection. Granted, a 1-month “no response” is MUCH better than none, but if someone knows, right away, that the response is a “no,” and sends the 3-second response, it saves that writer however many weeks of waiting for that particular rejection.

      We, as writers (and illustrators) submit and often wait months for responses. To me, that alone should eliminate any limitations put on multiple submissions. Most policies are geared for the agents’ and publishers’ benefit. It goes without saying (at least it’s obvious to me) that everything takes time. Each person has different demands in life and various priorities, all of which use the precious minutes/hours of each day. Some people are organized and efficient, others are not. There are SO many variables! Unless we are flies on the wall, we are generally not privy to the goings-on on either side of those walls. All I know is that over these years, during the spurts I’ve submitted, through that submission process—due to the waiting—the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years. The few times I’ve received speedy responses (and from people I would expect to be inundated), I am elated because it’s time saved and less time spent in limbo.

      Thanks for posting this, Kathy. Her perspective is more what my impression has always been.

      Donna

      Like

  12. My brother recommended I might like this web site.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this info!
    Thanks!

    Like

    • Keesha,

      I am very happy that you from my blog. Hope you become a regular visitor.

      Kathy

      Like


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