I, along with a lot of other people, thought that when an editor or agent indicates that they do not accept unsolicited submissions, that meant you should bugger off. Some agents have enough clients and don’t want to take on any new work. They fear their attention-level will be diminished if they’re spread too thin. Other agents don’t trudge through the slush pile because they rely on referrals for new clients.
So I thought no means no. No submission means don’t send nada.
But after a conversation with agent Jenny Bent, Miss Snark learned a finer distinction is at work here. “I don’t want people mailing me with chapters or complete manuscripts if I haven’t asked for them,” Bent explained to the snarky one. “That would be an ‘unsolicited submission.’ However, anyone and everyone is free to send me an e-mail query… and if I ask to see material, then it becomes a ‘solicited submission’ and it is fine to send.”
I don’t know if this holds true for every agent, but this revelation was the equivalent of angels singing for me. This opens up a whole host of potential
victims agents I thought were unreachable because they don’t accept unsolicited submissions. So although I have to keep my two-thousand page manuscript to myself, for now, I can still write query letters to agents boasting about the genius of my novel that involves a microscopic city of people that dwell amongst the metal and wires of a thirteen-year-old boy’s headgear.
Do they even still have headgear these days? Or am I revealing my orthodontic age?
Anyway, thanks Ms. Snark, for discovering this small, but extremely crucial, distinction.