E v P query; P being postal of course

If an agent takes both email and written queries and doesn't specify a preference, would a five to ten second call to find out their preference be appropriate? I fear encountering a situation like you mentioned earlier in which an agent listed that they took e-queries, but didn't actually read them.

Please please please do not call to ask this.
Send an e-query.
If you don't hear back, send a written query unless the agent says they only read e-queries.
There is no such thing as a five second phone call.
I've gotten these calls. Almost inevitably the author is so nervous they sound like a junior high boy asking a girl to the dance OR , worse, emboldened by actualy getting Miss Snark upon the blower, they PITCH.

I fly solo which means I answer my own phone. I let you ring to voice mail if I know you're not on my call list today (ie your area code is Winnemuca). The ones that really chap my chatanooga choo choo are the ones that come in as "private caller" and I answer thinking it might be Mr Clooney. Or Grandmother Snark. Or the gin delivery truck driver needing bail money. And worse upon worse is when I've put someone else on hold to answer this and then you pitch. You're unhappy when I cut you off. I'm unhappy. My other caller is unhappy. This is not the start of something good.

I know this can seem like some sort of Byzantine world of nonsensical rules and crazy agents who don't want to talk to the very people who provide the work they sell. Pause for a moment and consider it only takes 1/10 of my queriers in any given week to add up to a lot of phone calls. We do this not cause we want to make it difficult for you but because we want to spend our time doing what you REALLY want us to be good at: selling stuff.

If worse comes to absolute worst, you can email to ask which is better. At least then Mr Clooney won't get a busy signal when he calls.


Anonymous said...

I had an opposite experience from your little tale of woe here. I don't remember the agent, but I mailed a query and sent an equery to this person and heard nothing for a couple of months.

His web site stated he should respond within a couple of weeks (or less if equery), so after sending a second equery and hearing nothing, I called the number on the web site. I got his voice mail and left a short message with my phone number.

He called me back about a half hour later and I asked if he'd received the query. After some hemming and hawing he asked me to basically pitch my book. I stepped on my tongue as I was not prepared.

After that, I vowed to prepare a thirty second pitch before I called anyone else for the same reason. Luckily, I didn't have to do that as I have an agent now.


Cheryl said...

What happened to the respite? OMFG, you're as addicted to this blog as we are!

And we are so grateful.

Rei said...

We'd be lost without you. Thank you, Miss Snark. :)

Anonymous said...

i've always been reticent to call an agent, even though i have one. i'd rather have him futilely trying to sell my book than wasting his time listening to my tales of woe (i.e., my neuroses related to the novel).

i am curious about when actual clients cross the line when it comes to the telephone. what is the proper phone etiquette?

always good to have the snarking goin' on.

WannabeMe said...

"I fly solo which means I answer my own phone."

I can hear KY yelping in the background, "What am I? Chopped foie-gras?"

High Power Rocketry said...

: )

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your not wanting to receive pointless calls.

But your comments on private caller prompt me to point out that some parts of the country have a very different view of Caller ID.

Here in California, for example, where approximately half of residential phone customers PAY a monthly fee to be unlisted. California was the last state to get Caller ID service, because most people here considered it a privacy invasion. Worse, Caller ID is easily spoofable, so why would you pay for the service when it is unreliable? (Last time I checked, it was an EXPENSIVE service, too.)

The phone companies have tried (and to some degree succeeded) in converting California customers from Caller ID blockers to senders by slamming, hiding the opt-out option, and bundling.

So next time you see "Private Caller" on your phone, be aware that it may indeed be someone on your call list to whom it never occurred people actually read the Caller ID before answering the phone.

Miss Snark said...

BookFrauD: Actual clients are not on my list of people I don't want to hear from;ok double negative is bad let's try again.

Clients can call as often as they want. I will tell them to suck it up if it is clear they are using me as an afternoon tea break or something.

The "do not call" was strictly for those at the query letter phase.

And KY isn't chopped liver (Lent being meatless and all) but he does look quite fetching in his chocolate Easter bunny bonnet.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

I have Call Block, for several reasons that are fairly important to me. But it's easy enough to hit *82 before I call my agent or editor. Then they can see my ID and I can keep my Call Block intact.

Erin M. Hartshorn said...

Of course, Winnemucca's area code is the same as Reno's.

Anonymous said...

That poor pooch.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark,

How do you deal with a client you've taken on who acts like a Nervous Nelly? Is it reasonable for a client to call or email you every week? Once a month? Do you ever endure clients who ask you a million questions (over the course of a million calls/emails) such as "What if we change the book title to this instead -- will that make it more marketable?" or "How can you get me on Oprah so that I can get myself noticed so that publishers will bang down your door until they have a book deal in place?"

Further to that, how do you instruct an author on what a "platform" is and how to get one if she doesn't have one already?

Thank you, Miss Snark. You rule.

Carter said...

Postal query:

"Now I've got you, my pretty! Yes, and your little dog, too!"
Sound of AK-47 in full automatic.
"How's THAT for an SASE?"

Sorry. Insensitive, gauche, and politically incorrect. Also irresistible. Damn! There's the torches and pitchforks again. Gotta go!

Shelli Stevens said...

I made the mistake of calling an editor once to check for status on a full (obviously I didn't have an agent) biggest mistake of my life. I got a rejection dated that day. I was surprised they didn't stamp the time on it.

I'll never call an agent or editor again unless it's upon invitation. Scares the crap out of me anyways.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the clarification, miss s.

McKoala said...

How long does a chocolate bunny bonnet last on Killer Yapp's head before he eats it?

Emmy Ellis said...

I must have an unusual editor then. We email eachother all the time, about my novels and the crap of life in general.


WagerWitch said...



You don't want to have Earl Grey with me every afternoon over the phone?

Noooooooo.... Say it isn't so.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cloony is CALLING??!! Dear Ms. Snark, do, DO tell all..

Sal said...

This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

Anonymous said...

I had (emphasis: past tense) an agent who seemed to feel a phone call every 6 months made me a high maintenance author. Guess, for her, I was. We parted company because I couldn't get her to tell me if she'd actually mailed submissions she'd said she would mail 6 months previously...


T2, who will not phone you to moan & groan over publishers' habits but does enjoy a nice cuppa

Anonymous said...

If an agent accepts both e-query and snail mail, then I will send MY preference - snail mail. Knowing that agents can scan e-queries at light speed while they are, say, on hold on the phone, and can get rid of you with the push of the delete button, I choose to send snail mail as I can enclose the first five or six pages unsolicited with my query. Never know when that may make the difference.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

If you had not already noticed, Mr. Clooney is on the cover of this months Vanity Fair.

He has come a long way since being on The Facts of Life.


Anonymous said...

As an uncurable phone-a-phobe, I entirely sympathize. I cringe when the phone rings at work, and usually snap at it, "Go away!"

At home, when the phone rings, we all run away.

People who know me send me emails.