Another note on e-queries…. I have discovered something that I wish to call rubber-queries. In the past, we have occasionally referred to some revised manuscripts as being made of such material. Though some people may be very quick revisers (I have a couple on my list in point of fact), when one suggests an area that could use more attention and potentially improve the manuscript, and subsequently gets the submission back within just a few days, it suggests that perhaps only a surface attempt has been made. Perhaps it’s cynical to think so… In any case, I digress. A rubber e-query consists of an exchange where one is queried by the author, declines their material, and receives another query nearly immediately. Today’s came before I’d finished replying to the other e-queries on today’s docket. (Just as a side point of interest — I spent 40 minutes queueing these replies.)
So, here’s my quandary. I fear an exponential growth of e-queries. Today’s e-query bouncer was clearly not writing material remotely appropriate for me, or the agency for which I work. The second query confirmed this. I believe they were employing that scattershot approach in which they simply garner every agent email from the internet they can find. They were at least clever enough not to put me in a cc field with 100 others. But it was also clear they had not taken the time to review our submission guidelines or anything on our website. I find this approach problematic. I fear they will simply continue to send me e-queries until I crack. Especially since they mentioned having completed over a dozen manuscripts in their first query. It won’t work. Hard sells actually tend to make me dig my heels in and resist being persuaded (you should see me go car shopping – it’s a truly frightening experience…. for the car salesperson). To put it baldly and, indeed, rather bluntly — at what point do they segue into becoming a spammer rather than a business correspondent? Some people have made it clear that our agency position on e-queries is unfair and disrespectful. But is there a line in there somewhere where I can call a halt? I’m afraid this is not an isolated case, therefore my concern about this issue of potentially needing to draw boundaries in order to conduct business in a reasonable and efficient manner.
I don’t believe that being approached again by an author is unreasonable. In fact, a couple of my current clients initially had rejections or requests for revisions before we made the relationship official. However, I would like to encourage people to do it with due consideration. I want to idealistically believe that each and every writer has the potential to be publishable. I’m ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I’m not interested in being unfairly taken advantage of, or in squandering resources. As much as I am into this agenting gig to help authors, it is my bread and butter. It’s what keeps me warm at night. Literally. The reader in me… the lover of story… she would love to help every writer. It’s simply just not possible to do that on an individual level in every case. More’s the pity.