10.24.2005

Miss Snark's First Word on RUDE AGENTS

So for those of use who have e-queried agents, what happens if we don't hear back from them? I know you're not supposed to query again, but what if they fall into the category of simply deleting messages without reading them, and we don't realize this? Is it okay to, after a certain amount of time, send in a paper query? After how long? Thanks!

Miss Snark has absolutely had it with her colleagues who think that by virtue of being literary agents they have license to abandon the rules of business etiquette.

IF an agent elects to accept e-queries, common courtesy dictates a response should be sent. It can be a form response "thank you but not right for us" but there should still be something.

This hogwash about we'll get back to you if we're interested is ridiculous. If you don't want to deal with queries then DON'T but to just blithely disregard them as though some sort of Ridley Scott robot is on the other end and not a human being is just plain BAD MANNERS.

There are enough times when common courtesy goes out the window in this city: morning subway rides leap to mind, and people who whistle in elevators.

We're not curing cancer here and lives don't depend on our decisions. We aren't so busy that we can't be courteous.

So, colleagues, shape up. Answer your damn emails or stop taking e-queries.

As to the actual question the Snarkling asked, if you don't hear back, I'd mail a query within a month. But I'd also not be all that excited about working with someone who thinks it's ok to brush you off cause you're "just slush".

10 comments:

someone paranoid said...

My personal favorite bit of e-business was the announcement that the New Yorker would be taking email submissions, but when you sent one you received a verification email that read something like, "We've received your submission, if you haven't heard back from us in 3 months, assume we will not be accepting it." What style. It’s like a preemptive rejection. It might as well say, "trust us, you're not getting in and we're not reading this." This might no longer be the case over there, but it was for a moment. I think e-query agents should go this route.

jason evans said...

Miss Snark,

Let us in on a little secret. Is the reason all paper queries tend to be answered and email queries not because paper queries are more easily farmed (er, I mean screened) by interns and assistants?

S. W. Vaughn said...

Bravo, Miss Snark! You have such a talent for telling it like it is. I adore your blog -- and of course plan to put up a link entitled "Miss Snark's Fabulous Blog" on my author web site upon my next update.

Thanks for keeping us Snarklings informed on the shadowy world of agents -- and your indignance at the rude habits of others is commendable and encouraging. Blog on, dear lady, blog on!

S. W. Vaughn

Existential Man said...

Thanks for your expression of outrage at the suspension of "common decency," Your Royal Snarkiness but it appears to be more "common" for agents simply to let no response to queries mean no interest. It is no different than the common practice in the business world of not returning an unsolicited call if you are not interested in what is being sold.


Unfortunately, this is but the most minor of infractions when it comes to agents' bad manners. For example, do you have any idea how many agents will dismiss a client by way of email, not willing to show the "common courtesy" of making a phone call?

Or how long they will keep anxious clients waiting on pins and needles to hear any news when a project has been submitted to editors?

You wanna talk bad manners? How about sending gifts to agents who, upon receiving them, don't even show the graciousness to say 'thank you'?

But don't get me started. Perhaps a topic for another time.
Welcome back home.

Christine said...

Yeah, and one of the top NY agents is guilty of this very thing - Ethan Ellenberg. Says it right there on his website.

I mean, what's to say that the query didn't get sucked up by the s p a m filter and he never read it??

At least they could send a read reciept.

Queried him once on paper, once (for a different book) through e-mail, never got a response to either.

He's off my list of agents I want, just for rudeness.

litagent said...

I do accept e-queries, and I am very, very slow about responding to them. This is because I get hundreds and hundreds and I'm a one-person show. No assistant, no secretary, no unpaid intern. But I do read them eventually (sometimes weeks later)and I do respond to each and every one, eventually. I never just delete -- well, I have been know to, once or twice, when someone has really irritated me (as in, attached his entire 120,000 word novel when I specifically state "no attachments". I think it's fine, after a month or so, to write back and say, I sent you a query earlier, but haven't heard back. Do not do this two days after your first email, or you may, in fact, be subject to immediate deletion, just on principle's sake.

kitty said...

You're back! What, did Germany run out of gin?

Caryn said...

Thank you so much for your response! It was so helpful. I think from now on I'll opt to send by snail mail unless an agent specifically states e-mail as a preference (as some of them do).

Glad you had fun in Germany.

Bernita said...

When agents say they are "actively seeking new clients", then the gueries (to which they do not respond,) are not, technically, "unsolicited."

Miss Snark said...

Bernita has it exactly right. Once an agent says they DO take e-queries, they should respond, even if only with a form email.

If an agency does NOT accept e-queries, then it's spam, and stupid, and snarky responses (while not genteel) are certainly not totally uncalled for. Much like snarky responses to those poor souls who telephone Miss Snark during the cocktail hour to ask her views on the world and the current electoral situation.