Thursday, June 9, 2011

What NOT to say in response to no response from an email query

We've all read that poor author who had her book reviewed and then disagreed with the review. Ranting and raving about a bad review will not win you any readers.

Neither will responding to an automated reply when you send in a query to an agent.

When I was looking for an agent, many times I would receive an automated reply that said something like, "Thank you for your query. If I am interested in reading more, I will contact you." It was short, sweet, and to the point. And, of course, it left me wondering if and when the agent would respond. Sometimes I would get a request for a partial, sometimes a full. Most of the time, I received no request. I took that as they were not interested.

Rule #1: If you do not get a response, do not email again.
They got it the first time and there's no need to keep resending and resending. I think the only time you should "double check if you received it" is if a partial/full is requested and you just want to make sure they got it. That's pretty acceptable.

Rule #2: If you can't follow Rule #1, don't send an inappropriate message in your response to a lack-of -response email.
These days I think people view the internet as some sort of invisible shield around themselves and an excuse to behave badly because they think no one really knows who they are. This is not the case when you are submitting queries. I think agents will remember your name for two reasons: (a) they are interested in your story or (b) your lack-of-response email to them was so riddled with obscenities, you made such a horrible impression. You may not think it, but the writing world isn't that big. If you put yourself out there as an idiot, people will know. Agents share this sort of stuff - and that's not GOOD publicity.

Rule #3: If you are still convinced that you must get a response and continue to email the agent, you should take up another career.
Listen, this is a tough business and just because you get an agent doesn't mean you are going to sell. BUT an agent is your business partner. They are the one person who truly understands how you feel emotionally about your work. They will be by your side during good and bad, and they will try their hardest to make both of your dreams come true (yours to be a published author, and theirs to be a successful agent). If you create this persona of being a difficult person to work with (i.e. 10 million emails of "Did you get my query? You're missing out! I'm the next NYT best-selling author! blah, blah, blah!") you will not receive a favorable response.

My advice: Research the agents who rep work that is similar to what you write and query them. If you receive an automated reply, don't take it personally. And realize that agents are humans too who live with only 24 hours in the day. They have established clients, are sweet-talking potential clients, and are dealing with one hundred bazillion things that I'm constantly amazed that my agent deals with on a daily basis. The automated reply is to help you know that yes, they did receive your email. It's the actual email from them that you need to be concerned about - not the auto-reply.