That may or may not be the legs of an unsuspecting writer.
I signed a confidentiality agreement.
When my boss first told me I could start requesting manuscripts and looking for something I could represent myself, I was so excited that I requested 11 manuscripts...that day (so I was a little over ambitious, story of my life). But when 9 of those manuscripts showed up the next day, I read them, one after the next, and I took notes and sent feedback to the authors.
And despite the problems with that, I continued to handle requested submissions in a similar manner. Even when I had six clients, I desperately wanted a YA fantasy, so I requested every single YA fantasy that found its way into my inbox. Then thankfully I found Cat Hellisen. Or rather she found me, by way of that Moskowitz girl.
This was a sad decision for me. I've heard so many writers talk about how they so desperately want feedback. I know I would have a hard time reading form rejection after form rejection. And don't get me wrong, I get plenty of people who respond to me and ask for feedback anyway.
But here's why I just can't give it.
I just don't have the time.
This might sound callous or self important. I know that. But it's the truth. Every reason I can think of for why I don't send feedback and notes, why I form reject, comes back to the fact that I just don't have the time.
1. Feedback creates a dialogue. Writers almost always respond to personalized emails (I respect that). Sometimes the responses are pleasant and short and The End. But with the amount of emails I get, these add up and take a while to go through. Other times, they're rants (which do hurt my sensitive feelings even when I try not to let them) or belligerent personal attacks, which means I have to turn to someone in the office and cry/complain/rant/vent or something in return.
2. Feedback can also give writer's a sense of hope, and unfortunately sometimes a false sense of hope. Back when I gave feedback to everything, a lot of those manuscripts had problems I could point out, but they also lacked something much more amorphous and hard to define--whatever was going to make me fall in love with it. Yet a lot of writers revised, according to my notes and resubmitted and then I read again. And most often times I still had to turn around and say "nope not for me."
3. I have client manuscripts to edit. My feedback has to go to them. These are the manuscripts I've read and loved and said YES I WANT TO REPRESENT YOU! And I doubt I'll shatter any delusions (I've seen what my clients say about me), but I edit those manuscripts. A lot. I read them again and again before we go on submission and go through multiple rounds of edits. Then after my clients have editors and they edit for them, I read again, just to make sure nothing was missed. Admittedly, I read fast, faster than almost anyone else I know. But editing isn't a job that can be rushed.
4. The hard truth is that agenting isn't about answering queries or reading requested material. Even pitching books to editors doesn't take up the majority of an agent's job. It's handling problems that arise during editing, production, the release, the next book, and beyond. And so many of those problems jump up unannounced and require a lot of phone calls and/or emails to a number of people. Sometime one problem takes up a whole day or a whole week or even more.
Even though it grates my skin to say it, no matter how little I sleep, I just don't have the time to keep up with everything I do if I'm also giving feedback on requested material. So I don't. Which means, my rejection now includes:
Which also means, when a writer replies and says "But could you tell me why it's not for you? Any feedback is helpful!" I don't respond. My heart bleeds a little and a part of me wants to write a couple paragraphs about why. But I just...
Because I have 239 other things I should be doing with the 15 minutes that will take.
* Note *
Please feel free to disagree, however, disrespectful comments will be deleted.