|Janet, post-edit memo|
I just sent back notes on one of my client's novels.
Here's how it unfolded:
I read the novel twice: once to get the plot and characters in my brain, the second to be able to see the action unfold knowing what the whole story was.
You can only see the clever things being laid in if you know what the end will be.
The two reads took me about four days total. (I was doing other things too.)
I made notes on both reads.
Then it took me about two days to write the notes into a memo, revise, and polish.
Total elapsed time is probably 25 hours.
Now this wasn't 25 hours straight. I don't have the concentration for that right now.
And the key thing about revising an edit memo is you have to look it over at least a couple times, more likely five or six, and you need some time between those passes.
If I "fix" fewer than three things in a memo, I know I'm getting close to the final version.
So, what does all this mean for you?
Investing 20+ hours in a novel I know I'm not going to add to my list is a bad use of my limited resources.
That's why I don't offer much, if anything, in notes on requested fulls, and nothing at all on queries I pass on.
Expecting/wanting notes on a full, or a query, is simply setting yourself up for disappointment. Avoid that. There's enough disappointment in publishing without asking for more.
I'm exhausted just reading what you go through.
This! This is the answer to all those who complain on the one hand that it takes too long to get a response to their query, and on the other that they don't get any feedback. You can't have it both ways.
Agents do not get paid until the book sells. That is key to remember and all the time it takes to go from new client to sold book is a long road.
A while back on this blog, I think you put it well - time is prioritized closest to the money. Something of that ilk. If you are a querying writer, you are no where near the money yet. If you are a client that has a book preparing for submission, a book on submission, a client about to be published, etc - that is where the agent's time must go first or they won't be an agent for long.
That understanding made it a bit more easy to deal with - rejections of all stripes whether on a request or just a query.
I've had an interesting (to me) personal progression in how I feel about rejections. In general, I will always consider "no reply means no" to be inappropriate and unprofessional, that hasn't changed, UNLESS a timeline is provided. "If you haven't heard from me in 90 days, it's considered a no" is much better than a yawning gulf of unacknowledged "maybe we'll get to it in two years" silence.
But I've also come to the (maybe belated) realization that there's only so useful a personal rejection or notes from a person rejecting can be. No is still no. If it's an R&R, okay fine, but that obviously isn't the same thing. So I don't need "proof" that somebody "really read" what they pulled out of slush; I just need to know if they're taking it or not. It is, as you illustrate here, an unrealistic/unreasonable demand on time to expect further (holy smokes!!)
So like yes, we always crave commentary on our work, but the context of meaningful commentary is a different animal.
I've never expected agent feedback from a query.
I wouldn't expect it on the first read of a full.
I would like to get some respect out of most agents that can't even take the time for an auto-response that says they even got the query I sent them. I have too many queries that just seemed to vanish into the ether, maybe.
It's hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes. But once you try it and start to make it a habit, life gets infinitely more satisfying.
In several writer groups, when anyone complains about getting no feedback, I always say, "You're not in a relationship yet. It's not the agents job to make you a better writer."
I am just happy to hear back one way or another. In fact, I'd rather a simple, "Thanks, but this wasn't for me" than some of the query rejections which are form but sound like they might be personalised. I think these confuse a lot of writers and make them worry over something that might be unnecessary.
I'd expect agents who provide feedback on queries or full manuscripts are likely to encounter more writers that respond to said suggestions with expectations of dialogue. And Melanie is spot on. Writer groups, beta readers, and/or paid developmental editors are the resource, not agents.
It would be super nice if more agents could do as Janet does and post a "have reviewed all queries by x date" on their agency website. For the NRMNs, it would at least be a way to close out a query.
The ones I struggle with the most are the NRMNs that also have a "No from one is no from all" policy. Off the little query goes into the deep dark depths of the void with nary a whisper.
I don't mind form rejections at all. I do mind silence.
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