When I first started the submissions process the thing I found the hardest was the ‘silent’ rejections. These are not the explanatory-rejections that highlight specific flaws in your work, not the generic rejections which are copied and pasted to every unsuccessful applicant. No, these are the ones you never receive at all. The ones were months and months pass with no word, and so you must assume you’re not successful.
For a while, I found these hard to cope with, because a NO is still better than not knowing. But I don’t worry about it so much now, and if you are, here are some ways to cope with the silent rejections:
Remember it’s not personal
Agents are busy people. Super busy. Not all of them have assistants, but even those who do, their assistants are busy too. It’s not personal when you don’t get a response. Many agencies advise on their websites that unless they want to see more, they may not reply. They often receive hundreds of submissions a week, and even a generic response would take a while if it had to go to everyone. So don’t fret. I assure you, you’re not the only one to receive no reply.
Note the “wait time” and then move on
As I mentioned above, most agencies have a recommended “wait time.” Their submissions page may say something like, “if you haven’t heard from us within 8 weeks, please assume we do not wish to take your submission further. It varies, usually anywhere between 6 – 12 weeks, though some are more/less. Make a note of what date you should’ve heard from them by, and when that date passes mark it as a no. It’s the easiest way to move on, and look for another agent to submit to.
Spend time doing something useful
I wrote a blog post once about useful things you can do while you’re waiting to hear back from an agent. These include working on a new piece of writing, revising your query and researching other agents. Keeping yourself busy is a great way to stop dwelling on those silent rejections/long waits for responses, and keep your progression rolling in the meantime.
Don’t give up hope
Sometimes, the reason you haven’t heard back within the suggested time is because the agent truly is snowed under. I know of people who have heard back long after they thought they’d been ignored, with requests for full manuscripts. So never give up hope. Move on, keep working, assume the worst but always, always, ALWAYS hope for the best.
Have you had to cope with “silent rejections”? How do you do it? Pop your thoughts in the comments below, and until then,