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Clarifying ABLA Submission Policies

Every conference I go to, I’m asked about the Andrea Brown Literary Agency rules and policies about submissions. Even though I think it’s all very clearly spelled out on our website’s Submissions page, I’ll take a crack at clarifying our instructions. These are the questions we usually get:

“Is a ‘no’ from one really a ‘no’ from all? Can I send my project to another ABLA agent?”

At ABLA, a “no” from one of us on a project is indeed a “no” from all. If you have chosen one of us — and I know it can be hard, with nine such wonderful agents — and we reject you, don’t send to another one of us just to be sure you chose the right agent in the first place. We are all looking for talent, whether debut or well-published, but we tend to pick only the top caliber submissions out of our slush. If you get no response or a rejection, assume that none of us is interested in the project as is.

You are, of course, welcome to submit a new project to us, whether you send to the same agent or a different one. You can also resubmit your original project six months (or more) after your first rejection, to the original or a different agent, if you can honestly say you’ve revised it and the work is different and stronger than it was the last time one of us saw it (be honest).

“Do you share projects of merit with your colleagues if the project doesn’t happen to be right for you?”

Yes. If I get a submission of very high caliber but it happens to be not quite right for me, I often pass it off to my colleagues for an additional read. We all do this. If someone else is interested, we connect the author to the agent and let the new agent take over the submission, if the author likes the idea.

If we do share your work, whether it ends up a pass or an offer of representation, you will most likely know that this level of enthusiasm exists. The agent who passes it around or the agent who ends up liking it will usually fill you in on the situation.

“Does no response after 6 to 8 weeks really mean rejection? Do you write personalized rejections?”

Our official agency policy is that we do not respond to queries unless interested and that no word after 6 to 8 weeks means, unfortunately, a rejection. The only email you should expect to receive from some of us is an automatic auto-response to confirm receipt of your query, and then an email expressing enthusiasm if we think your project is a good fit. Some of my colleagues do stick by the above guidelines. At this time, several of us, myself included, do still respond personally to every submission that follows our guidelines.

“Does my submission have to follow guidelines?”

When a submission doesn’t follow guidelines (is sent to every agent at the agency, has no sample pages, has an attachment, etc.), we delete them and don’t respond.

There are lots of other questions that querying writers ask — “Will you give me feedback?” or “Will you refer me to another agency that might be a better fit?” (my answer, here) — but the above are the more ABLA-specific and seem to come up the most. If you have any ABLA submission questions, in particular, now is the time to ask!



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