Thursday

Ground Control to Major Tom

...can you hear me Major Tom?

About a week ago author, and former agent, Nathan Bransford posed a question: Should agents respond to all queries? (There's some great links in there, too.)

My initial response was, of course! Then I got to thinking. Is it really that important to have the polite little form rejection in my mailbox. Hrmm. No, I guess not really.

Let's face it, agents are busy. As long as the agent is actually reading the query, I'm really okay with silence on the other end - as a means of, thanks but no thanks.

However...(you didn't see that coming? Really?)

I don't send my queries willy-nilly. I research each agent I come across before even thinking about adding them to my Query List. They need to, first and foremost, rep my genre. Hopefully genres, since I write in a few. I also look through their client lists and read excerpts, and sometimes buy the books, from writing styles/voices/stories that may be similar to mine. Of course, not too similar - what agent would want to try and sell a book they've already sold, yanno? I find interviews with the agent and study up. Fresh interviews are best since sometimes the agent has changed tastes/genres, etc, but not yet updated the blog/website. There are a few other things I research, too (who me, a stalker? Nah. *pulls ballcap lower*)

Each query letter I write takes a good half an hour (maybe it's the 20 minutes I take to convince myself to hit send...) while I make sure that I let the agent know why I think they might be a good fit for my book.So, sure, agents are busy, but I use a lot of my time on queries as well.

In the end, I'm still fine with the non-responders, but what I'd love to see from them is at least an auto-generated email response to let me know that the query hit their inbox. Otherwise I might sit and stew on whether they actually got it or it hit their spam folder, or flew into outer space. (Wait, did I forget to mention I'm neurotic? Oh. Well, there it is. I am.) I hate not knowing if my hard-written query actually got to its destination.

How 'bout you? Do you need that rejection letter in your inbox, or do you move on without ever thinking about the old queries you sent? (Okay, I've picked myself off the floor, and my sides ache a little from the hysterics. The dogs also think I'm crazy. But, they've never met another writer. Possibly they think I'm the only hot-mess-neurotic writer.)

23 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think about it much. However, a reply would be proper business etiquette. If a SASE is included, a reply is expected, and email queries should be no different.

Summer Frey said...

I think an automated response would definitely relieve a lot of writers' anxiety, and it's simple enough.

As for me, well...you know I haven't been there yet, so ask me again in a year, maybe? :)

Deniz Bevan said...

Eek! Your list of tasks to do before sending out a query is getting me all panicked. I've got a week off work coming up in two weeks. Better use my rime to good purpose...

Angela Felsted said...

On one hand, I understand why people don't respond. But on the other, I sometimes feel like I'm sending out letters and submissions to Santa Claus. The question is, do those people really exist?

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm not querying yet but I'm like you, I think I would be okay with silence as long a I actually knew my query had been received.

Zan Marie said...

I can handle the no response means no...at least I think I can--not querying yet--but at least an autorepond that let's me know it got there would be nice. ; )

LTM said...

YES! See, I said that all the time. If they would at least give you the ole "got your email, if you don't hear back in 6 weeks, it's a pass," I would have no beef w/nonresponders.

Otherwise, I have beef.

wait... huh? :D <3

Slamdunk said...

That is a good sugggestion.

When I was applying for jobs several years ago, just getting a "yes, we received it email" was always appreciated.

DL Hammons said...

I feel that the non-responders act unprofessional. Regardless of the amount of queries they're seeing, even a form rejection is better than dead air.

julie fedderson said...

i think an auto response is nice. Just because it eliminates that "maybe my email got lost" worry.

S.P. Bowers said...

I'd like some sort of notice that it got there. Otherwise I would be obsessing over it.

And I'm so coming to you for advice when I get ready to send my query out.

Jenny S. Morris said...

My stomach knots just thinking about waiting for something that will never come. I think the auto-reply idea!

Hannah Kincade said...

I agree with Summer. A quick automated response is painless and well, automated.

Alas, I am not in the querying stage.

Mel Corbett said...

I agree with you. I think that no rejection should be required with email queries. But, that an autoresponder saying the email has been received would do much to keep my worries about if the query actually made it to their inbox or not.

It's simple to set up an autoresponder. Have a dedicated email address for queries, have an autoresponder set up for it and bam. I know you got it and if I don't hear back I know it's a form rejection.

Of couse, I've sent out a whole one query so... maybe I should do more before I spout off.

Tara said...

Mel - Haha! i haven't sent many yet, either. I'm too chicken!

Sara - anytime, girl!

Leigh - Precisely. ;-)

Angela, now all I can think about are the little M&M's passing out when they see Santa ;-)

Old Kitty said...

I think an automated reply to acknowledge someone's query would be the decent thing to do - otherwise make it clear in the submission guidelines to those querying to not expect any reply!

Good luck with your querying! Take care
x

Jon Paul said...

Obviously, I am light years from querying anyone, but in my (uninformed) opinion, a response of some sort would be proper.

In the days of hand-written letters, maybe not responding to everyone made sense, but with the technology we have today, even an autoresponse is better than nothing.

Cheryl said...

I'm okay with a non-response as long as they have it in their submission guidelines and, as you said, they send some kind of automated response to let me know they got it.

I think I need some kind of 'if you don't hear from us within six weeks, consider yourself rejected' type of thing in their guidelines, otherwise I'm just optimistic enough to think that they may not yet have looked at it, or they may be so overwhelmed by my genius that they are currently unable to type (okay, maybe not, but you get the picture) :)

KarenG said...

Back when rejections were sent via mail on a postcard or letter, they bothered, why not now when it's so easy to push a button and send out a form rejection? Yes, I believe every query deserves a reply.

Kelly Polark said...

I do appreciate a reply. I do also understand why some don't though. But a reply is VERY appreciated!

Shelley Sly said...

I agree. Boy, how I'd love a reply, but sometimes I'm left wondering about those silences -- are they rejections, or are they "never received the query to begin withs"? An automated reply would be nice.

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh my goodness, I just wrote an entire post about this, but I've been too chicken to post it on my blog. I think mine is a little tougher on the agents.

I feel just like you. If I spend a lot of time, a response is nice. Some rejections are expected, but others bother me.

Susan Fields said...

Now that I'm querying, I find my biggest pet peeve is a "no response" from an agent. With all the work that goes into the query, it doesn't seem too much to ask to let me know they're not interested. It can be a total form email, I don't care, just let me know that you got my query and you acknowledge my existence. On the other hand, it's making me appreciate the rejections, because in my book they're way better than no response at all.