letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 122
# of partials requested: 3 (but two of those were from the same query)
genres of partials requested: paranormal romance (1), cosy mystery (1), YA (1)

Dear Authors:

This week I got the same query for the third time in less than a month. It seems likely to me that my reply is getting caught in the author’s spam filter. The first query mid-May or so, was in the general format of such things with a pitch and pages. I politely declined. The second email, just the next week (notice my response time is posted as 2-3 weeks from receipt) contained the identical material, with the exception of the
introductory line to get my attention. Once again, despite finding the new intro a tad insensitive and perhaps pushy, I politely declined. This week I received the email again with a comment that I hadn’t replied for 4 weeks. I copied and pasted my previous two replies into a response and sent that out with a sincere wish that it got where it was going. I haven’t had a reply or a bounce, so I shall probably never know. However, I suspect that the author in question may have now decided that I am one of the rude agents that doesn’t deign to reply.

This makes me sad.

I’m sure there are agents who are thoughtless and dismissive in their dealings with authors. I’d like to think they are a small percentage just as those authors who do not research or have a care for an agent’s time are the few rotten apples poisoning the otherwise talented barrel. I try to keep that in mind and come to each query with a fresh perspective. But responses across the internet seem to indicate that I may be in the minority there. In this case, it’s distressing that through not fault of my own, it appears that another slur on my reputation will be my inescapable fate. While I realize that these instances are but a teensy, tiny percentage of my weekly query traffic, it is still somewhat disheartening that this seems to occur on a regular basis.

My thanks and appreciation to everyone that employs a polite and professional approach in this very competitive business and to those who take responses in the spirit they are intended. You give me heart and hope to keep looking for new writers to represent.

19 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. … 20… point… all… caps… ow.
    Thank you for continuing to take our queries, even when some of us pull that kind of thing. We really appreciate it!

  2. Note to self: send query with 24-point red font.
    I hate to be shown up.

  3. And once again, thank you for your VERY polite reply. Hearing nothing from agents can be really disheartening, even more-so than an outright “no.”

  4. Thanks for pointing out that spam filters catch return replies. I will make a note to check my filter more often.
    Adrianne Middleton

  5. I wouldn’t judge agent responses too much by the word on the internet. Agents are only human, mistakes will happen, and generally writers don’t post, “I was politely rejected by these five agents this week; I am disappointed but respect their professionalism.” People, in general, don’t talk about when they were treated well but rather when they were treated ill. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just tends to make things appear more negative than they are.
    I hope they finally received your email. If not, well, they might try snail mail next. ^_^

    • I actually blogged (LJed?) about my various rejections. Usually with a “ah, well” — all the rejections I’ve acquired have been very polite, and some have even had personal comments, which I appreciate greatly. I don’t mind telling my friends I’m disappointed, but I wouldn’t want them blaming anyone for not recognizing my genius, pure genius!!!111!! wanting to represent my work.
      (Ha, there’s something I should save for the next Agent Manners — etiquette when blogging about rejections.)

  6. I don’t condone 24pt blue, or getting impatient after a mere four weeks, but my main ISP installed a spam filter at source without telling me, and for eighteen months siphoned off many legitimate e-mails until someone contacted me on an alternate address. I’d written off a number of businesses as rude for not replying and I’ll never know what business opportunities I’ve missed.
    I now use gmail instead of my own domain, because they’re more reliable and have a better spam filter: with gmail, I don’t get false positives, I’ve had *one* spam slip through in the past eighteen months (among thousands that got filtered out) and I can check my spam folder myself.
    I don’t want to excuse the writer’s behaviour, but this might explain what was happening.

  7. above and beyond
    It seems that you go above and beyond. And also some writers are just too hung up on the whole thing. When I was querying, if an agent didn’t respond to my query after a month (or per their guidelines), I would follow up. If they didn’t respond to that, I’d mark “no response” in my tracking file and move on. I guess if you really, really, really have your heart set on a particular agent then this sort of approach wouldn’t work for you, but neither would querying three times in a month either.
    I once read in an agent’s blog, and I can’t remember whose blog it was, that it doesn’t help you at all to have “dream agents” because you’re dealing with people and timing, luck and preference, and just too many factors to set your sights on “dream” agents. I think that’s true. I know people who have wonderful agents that they adore, but who I didn’t click with and it’s probably true of my agent for them. I think it’s better to just keep querying.
    I have an agent I adore, but you are one of the excellent ones and I think anyone would be lucky to work with you. Don’t be too hard on yourself for the little black marks that the writers who really aren’t living in the real world bestow across the internet! It’s quite obvious to any who read your blog who and what you are.

  8. you are *much* more gracious
    than i could ever be. thank you.

  9. Yikes!
    I can’t believe anyone would send something to agent in that font.
    Just a quick question – If someone has queried you and has not heard back in the 2-3 week time frame, is it a good idea to resend the query at the 4 week mark?

  10. I second everybody here. Take heart. Your fabulousness is so appreciated. There will inevitably be slurs, it’s just how people are.
    You are great.

  11. The dancing cat loves you!

  12. I love that you still care as much as you do. It shows that you truly are doing what your heart desires. The passion and compassion you show through your words really keeps my own hopes of becoming published alive-thank you for that!
    NC Murphy

  13. I have to agree with the other comments I have seen posted for this entry. As a pen-to-paper virgin, I have been researching a number of Agents with the help of agentquery.com and eating pencil after pencil in the process. Its almost overwhelming how many Agents try to be good conduits for new talent, but there are always a few who just “feel” cold.
    Finding the time to have a heart is always a difficult thing for those who don’t have one. But you let yours flow in your words, and it shows me that there is hope. Thank you very much.
    Would 24 point red work?

  14. I appreciate that you read queries from new writers and that you don’t let a few clueless folks discourage you from doing so. :*) Thank you!

  15. I am the author that this post is about. Wow, did I get slammed in this comments section. I only sent that second letter because, like an idiot…I forgot to add the book pages. However, had I known I had already been rejected, I would never have sent it. Sorry about that. I did recieved your last letter. I imagine that the previous ones were, infact caught in my spam filter. I appreciate your reply. Don’t be sad. I don’t think you were rude. Though, you probably think that of me at the moment. I don’t think any less of you. I still read your blog and will continue to everyday despite the rejection. Thanks again for the oportunity.

  16. This post gave me pause, not because I’ve ever done this, but only because of the number of times you’ve responded to this person. I recently got brave and queried you. The first time, it bounced back — I was never sure why. I resent the email and it didn’t come back, but I have also not heard from you. I would not have thought anything of that. You poor thing, you are so, so swamped. But then, I see in this your turn around time and it makes me wonder what one does if the time that passes is more than two months without a response at all. I’ve mulled it over a while, thinking that patience was best, but then it occured to me that waiting for you to respond to a query you may never have gotten at all could be a long wait indeed.
    As you are so very swamped, the next time you get a spare nano-second, could you address this in Agent Manners? I had agonized so over the right wording for the letter I sent that I am inclined to send it again, yet I would hate to leave you feeling the uncomfortable deja vu you have been made to suffer by Mr. (or Ms.) 20-point-in-Blue. I imagine I’m not the only writer who would benefit from this information.
    In case I have not said so, thank you so for your diligence. Sometimes I look at the weekly numbers in your “query wars” and I am astounded. I try to imagine keeping up such constant numbers while still attending to all the other duties you have — I don’t think I could manage it in a normal work week, which probably means your hours are long. Dealing with useless repetitions probably seems especially thankless. So for now, I shall wait a bit longer.

    • Hi…
      Thanks for your kind words about my time commitments. I really appreciate your understanding.
      The oldest equery in my inbox is 5/27 (there’s one more May and then everything else is June) so please re-send if yours was prior to those dates. Thanks.

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