When is a literary agent submission a dead duck?

Another good luck story....

Annihilation (2018)

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Will L

Basic
Jun 13, 2020
London
Hi learned Litopians,

I sent a submission a month ago to a few agents - standard stuff, synopsis, cover note and first three chapters. Their websites all said that if you don’t hear in 8-10 weeks to assume “thanks but no thanks,” albeit with a Covid caveat.

In people’s experience, does a month without hearing generally mean that they have not been gripped?

I am a bit concerned that the first three chapters are scene setting and character defining with the touch paper lit right at the start of chapter four. Is that a bad move on my part?

I would be really interested in your wise opinions as this is my first attempt at securing an agent and also my first attempt at fiction.

Many thanks.

Will.
 
Hi Will

TBH, the time gap is more about the number of submissions and other work the agents are dealing with, rather than whether or not they're interested in taking yours further. Once they get a chance to work through their inbox, it's usually a quick decision, one way or another (Pete bases Pop-Up Submissions on the first 700 words because he says that's how long it takes an agent — or publisher — to decide yay or nay.)

If they've said 8-10 weeks and you're still inside that, I wouldn't be gloomy about your chances because you've yet to get a notification. You're still in the game!
 
You could read through a few subs in the writing group directory and see how readers responded. Or sub your first chapter to the same directly and ask that question about setup.
The best opportunity to let the work rest is while it's with an agent/s so you can go back to it when you hear from them and review/reword/revise with a fresh mind on the matter.
Nothing will rush another person, so all I can suggest is to keep writing, reading, sharing and dreaming.
 
'When is a literary agent submission a dead duck?'
When it stops quacking and rolls over on its back :)

There are always more agents out there so don't wait 3 months for a rejection before submitting to others. However, you clearly have doubts about your submission so as CageSage says: use the Writers Group to get some help. That's what it is there for.
 
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This is just my personal way, but I consider a submission as a dead duck as soon as I've submitted it. It's gone. It's out of my hands. If I hear back wonderful, if not, I've already moved on and their 'no' or silence is water off the duck's back (sorry, couldn't let that pun pass me by). :duck::)

But but but:

However, you clearly have doubts about your submission so as CageSage says: use the Writers Group to get some help. That's what it is there for.
I agree. If you have doubts, look at it again.

And I agree with Jonny. Bringing it to the Huddle is a good idea.
 
but I consider a submission as a dead duck as soon as I've submitted it. It's gone. It's out of my hands. If I hear back wonderful, if not, I've already moved on and their 'no' or silence is water off the duck's back

Yes, I agree, this is a great mindset, Barbara!!

Fretfully refreshing our mailboxes won't change a thing or speed anything up :) Much better if we're just busy doing something else when 'ding' a reply pops in. Six months later our debut's atop The Sunday Times Best seller list and we are awaiting delivery of the keys to our Malibu Beach luxury condo.
 
This is just my personal way, but I consider a submission as a dead duck as soon as I've submitted it. It's gone. It's out of my hands. If I hear back wonderful, if not, I've already moved on and their 'no' or silence is water off the duck's back (sorry, couldn't let that pun pass me by)

Fretfully refreshing our mailboxes won't change a thing or speed anything up :)

Totally agree :) To wait is to stop, and to stop kills a writing career.
 


I’ve had quick and slow responses to my queries:

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/super-quick-rejections.1544/#post-24670

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/longest-wait-for-a-rejection-letter-ever.2281/

Get used to waiting around and try not to sink into despair:

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/waiting-around-for-good-news.7270/

Divest yourself of the notion that your carefully created words will be perused by an experienced literary agent. As I wrote in an old thread

When it comes to who actually reads your submission package and the time that it takes them to do so, bear in mind that some agencies use outside readers. Whilst it's nice to think that your slaved-over manuscript will be perused by a cultured literary agent, who takes their time to appreciate the sophistication of your writing technique, it might be the case that your story is scampered through by an intern, an agent's assistant or one of these piece rate readers. It's these people who'll forward to the agent any stories they think look promising.

Console yourself by reading articles about famous authors who were rejected multiple times. No one knows what will work, until it does!

50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected - OnlineCollege.org
 
Q1. No, it's normal.
Q2. It's illogical to change it until you've had a definite rejection - no agent has even replied it seems; about 50% will do the polite thing when they reject.

The reality is very few of us will get represented. We're competing not just against other amateur hopefuls but all the seasoned professional authors too.
 
Hi Will

TBH, the time gap is more about the number of submissions and other work the agents are dealing with, rather than whether or not they're interested in taking yours further. Once they get a chance to work through their inbox, it's usually a quick decision, one way or another (Pete bases Pop-Up Submissions on the first 700 words because he says that's how long it takes an agent — or publisher — to decide yay or nay.)

If they've said 8-10 weeks and you're still inside that, I wouldn't be gloomy about your chances because you've yet to get a notification. You're still in the game!
Thanks Kate.
 
Q1. No, it's normal.
Q2. It's illogical to change it until you've had a definite rejection - no agent has even replied it seems; about 50% will do the polite thing when they reject.

The reality is very few of us will get represented. We're competing not just against other amateur hopefuls but all the seasoned professional authors too.
Thanks David.
 


I’ve had quick and slow responses to my queries:

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/super-quick-rejections.1544/#post-24670

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/longest-wait-for-a-rejection-letter-ever.2281/

Get used to waiting around and try not to sink into despair:

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/waiting-around-for-good-news.7270/

Divest yourself of the notion that your carefully created words will be perused by an experienced literary agent. As I wrote in an old thread

When it comes to who actually reads your submission package and the time that it takes them to do so, bear in mind that some agencies use outside readers. Whilst it's nice to think that your slaved-over manuscript will be perused by a cultured literary agent, who takes their time to appreciate the sophistication of your writing technique, it might be the case that your story is scampered through by an intern, an agent's assistant or one of these piece rate readers. It's these people who'll forward to the agent any stories they think look promising.

Console yourself by reading articles about famous authors who were rejected multiple times. No one knows what will work, until it does!

50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected - OnlineCollege.org
Thanks Paul.
 
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Another good luck story....

Annihilation (2018)

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