letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 121
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: romance

Dear Authors:

Some random notes today as this has been a random sort of week….

* It seems every week after this post I get at least a handful of emails/comments asking if my posting the letters from the query wars entry means that I have read all the queries I have received. Short answer: probably not in this lifetime. (Disclaimer: Proceed at your own risk; sometimes these inquiries may cause slightly unhinged laughter.) Currently I have over 100 queries still in the queue and that number goes up and down on a constant basis. Generally, I receive new queries while I’m reading the last batch, so therefore the queue is never empty. They arrive while I’m sleeping, during the weekend, etc. etc. (this sometimes feels like one of the things that is a downside of electronic queries vs. snailmail ones — the latter only arrive once a day). I do attempt to reply to every query, and with the exception of those few SASEs that go astray or emails that bounce, an author will hear from me. I even try to do it in the 2-3 week response time mentioned on our official webpage, though occasionally conference travel and holidays may add to that time. YMMV.

* Though I have never told anyone not to re-query after a rejection, I might recommend not doing it the very next day.

* To all those debut authors out there, please do not query me (1) with an idea you know one of my current clients could help you with, or (2) with an unfinished manuscript.

* And here’s a PSA: Please do not write back to a query rejection and ask me for advice on your query, or referrals to other agents, unless I have offered same in my previous correspondence with you. I would love to help; I really would. But I need to get back to everyone and hopefully in a reasonable amount of time, so the logistics of this just aren’t workable (until I have a clone or three).

And that’s all she wrote.

Good night and good luck.

8 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. Just curious, but is it a hassle when people write back with a short thank you note?
    I feel like it’s kind of a polite pleasantry to reply with a “Thank you for taking the time…” kind of note, but at the same time, with the amount of email you guys get, I wondered if my notes weren’t more of a hassle than an encouragement.

    • I don’t mind thank you notes at all, if a person feels so inclined — in fact, they sometimes may brighten up the day. I don’t think a person is at all required to do them in the context of query correspondence, but I certainly don’t object.

    • Thank you notes
      There’s always room at the table for Mr. Manners.

  2. Huh – I didn’t realize that re-querying was an option! How does that work? Substantial revision = chance of submitting anew? Do you want to be told that this it’s a re-query?

  3. Thank you notes
    Good question Claena1. I’ve had the courtesy of writing “thank you” notes drummed into me from childhood, so I’ve often wondered about this point.

  4. I had to chuckle, reading the PSA. That’s more or less how I feel about helping my students look up their grades online. I would love to have the time to speak with each student individually about each individual assignment, but, um, not in this lifetime. There’s just not enough time.

  5. WRT to your PSA. What’s the single best way to get feedback on a query from someone who’s in a position to know what works best? (as opposed to one’s crit partners, etc.) I know better than to write back to an agent, but I’m also curious, for my sake and many others’.

  6. I also didn’t know you could re-query an agent later on–shows how much I’m still learning about this whole publishing process! It also makes sense not to re-query the following day.

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