I was told recently by a published writer that an unsolicited submission literally belongs to the publisher until they tell me they're either buying or rejecting it.
This is madness! Are you kidding me? See this stuff drives me crazy! Who gives this kind of crackpot advice? See, this is why agents started blogs in the first place and why we so often have to repeat ourselves over and over again (not that I’ve ever had to address this question before). My goal, with this whole blog, is wrapped up in this one question. I am hoping to help eliminate this kind of wrong, wrong, wrong advice to poor unassuming authors. Thank goodness you’re heading in the right direction by finding agent blogs.
If you haven’t figured it out yet this so-called published writer is very wrong. An unsolicited, or a solicited submission for that matter, belongs to you. Sure the publisher can hold on to it for as long as they want, agents can do the same thing, but that doesn’t mean they have any control over it. You can sell it somewhere else, pull it from submission, or just plain let it sit there for years if you want. However, no one owns that work but you.