letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 229
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: urban fantasy

Well, it seems the entire week managed to speed by without me making a single post here. I guess I was too busy…. reading queries…. and doing other things, like, you know, selling books! In fact, sold two books today in a deal I’ve been working on all week. That sure felt good.

If you have not received a response to a query sent to me, here’s why:

* It has not yet passed its 4 week expiration date. This is the response time listed on our submission guidelines and my personal site. On occasion, you may have to add a few extra days for holidays or weekends here and there. (Frex, if you email your query on Christmas, and we’re closed for the week, I won’t see it until after the office re-opens.) Though the universe has made many attempts to delay me, I am actually currently succeeding at keeping up with that response time. Evenso, I have about 300 queries left in the queue right now. But, if you sent your query to me before April 10, 2009 and have not gotten a reply, it’s one of the other reasons hereunder. For other agents, you’ll have to check their websites as response times vary widely.

* My reply sent either via post if you included an SASE or via email if that’s how you sent the query has gone MIA behind enemy lines. This includes your spam filter eating it. It may also include my email getting bounced back. I always try to re-send the response again the next day, but sometimes those bounce back as well.

* In a related, but no less beyond my control, twist of fate, your query never reached me — either because the post awful is full of evil and they failed to deliver it or the spam filter is stronger than your own magical powers. (I have my spam filter at the lowest setting the ISP will let me have, by the by, and I do get some queries that are marked for quarantine. Let’s not talk about what else I get marked that way.)

* It was written in Sanskrit or was in some other way completely unreadable. On rare occasions, I get something that must be written in a strange font and much of it looks like this: “Dear Ms. Jackson,” and then the rest is in little box-shaped type and I can’t read it. (obviously this only happens with email queries). I have no idea what to do with these. Anyone out there read Sanskrit?

* You sent the query as an attachment. As per our submission guidelines, the company has a policy of not opening unsolicited attachments. If you paste the query into an email but still attach the synopsis and five pages, we won’t open those files either but will only read the email portion of the query. Usually, I will email back a link to our submission guidelines asking for a resubmission. This week’s query wars casualty argued with me on that issue and was apparently quite surprised (and put out) to find they couldn’t single-handedly change the policy. (This does not apply to requested partials and manuscripts, for which I specify the format when I make the request.)

* You have so ridiculously abused the query process that everyone else voted you off the island. See the comments on last week’s query wars for an explanation in which it appears that I am more lenient than some on this count. I haven’t entirely settled on a firm guideline for this but multiple queries for the same project in a short period of time may result in my ceasing to reply. If you’re not listening, then there’s no point, right? But if you’re reading this blog, I don’t expect you’ll end up falling into this category anyway.

These are all the reasons I can come up with. As you can see, none of them involve a policy of non-response. I have always made a commitment to answer each query I receive and will endeavor to continue to do so. Some weeks I read less than others (usually in direct relation to the current workload) and my response time may vary. YMMV elsewhere.

I note that there is currently one other method that can be used to get me to read a proposal for your novel, and that’s Brenda Novak’s Diabetes auction. As per my post listing the various things my clients are also offering, you can bid in this auction and get a critique of your proposal. The official listing is here. This is for a full critique of the proposal (though I try to always give a little feedback on requested submissions, this will be more extensive). Please support Brenda in raising money to help children with diabetes.

8 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. Congrats on the two sales 🙂
    Can you tell us what they were and to whom, or do you have to finalize things first?

  2. I respect that you’re putting time out of your work for this cause.
    I’ll bid on this if I can.

  3. Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research
    Hey, Jennifer! That’s a staggering number of queries you read this week. And congrats to the person from whom you requested the full.
    Just wanted to stop by and thank you for participating in my auction and to tell you that you’ve sent quite a few people over to the auction already.
    I’m amazed by your generosity and the generosity of others who have gone above and beyond the call. The person who wins your read will be very lucky!
    Brenda Novak
    THE PERFECT COUPLE, On Sale July 28th!
    Don’t miss my online auction for diabetes research at http://www.brendanovak.com

  4. As far as the Sanskrit ones… If you’re actually wondering about the details, here’s my guess.
    The boxes usually mean the email contains characters that your client can’t figure out how to render. It could be that you’re using a font that doesn’t have the right characters (this is more often a couple boxes where accented letters should be in the middle of otherwise readable text) or, more likely, their email client did something funky with the encoding settings.
    Depending on your email client, you could try to find different settings (usually labeled something like “Character Encoding”) that allow you to view the mail. Don’t know if you actually want to spend your time pursuing that, though… 🙂

    • Sanskrit
      Yeah, most email clients have an option that lets you view a specific email message as plain text, which turns off any formatting and HTML encoding and will help unless the email was written using a different code page or was securely signed for some reason.
      For example, Thunderbird has the View, Message Body As, Plain Text option.
      If that doesn’t do it, you might have to ask the sender to re-send the message as plain text. Or not. 🙂

  5. You shall be blessed!
    I just wanted to let you and Brenda know I think that what you’re doing with this auction is great. The world needs more people to undertake similar projects and then perhaps we would have less poverty and disease in the world.
    Well Done! I’ll be bidding.

  6. Hi, I’m glad I found this post, as I sent a query in March and didn’t hear back, so I was confused. I always check my spam filter, so I have a feeling the internet ate it. Oh, well. 😛
    I’ve done some revisions, so will try again.

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