5.21.2006

Miss Snark Returns...



Hello Ms. Snark,

What is the typical length of time that agents take to respond to query letters from first time authors? If one does not get a response within a few days, should one assume that the query has not been very exciting? How long should one wait without getting jittery?

Thanks for any helpful comments.


A couple days? You wait that long? Frankly, 24 hours, no, really, 24 minutes is about how long you should wait. When you think about it, agents really are just waiting at the mailbox (snail or electronic) just waiting with bated breath to hear from you, and the very second your missive arrives they fall on it with cries of glee. Somewhat the way I feel about this email in fact.

16 comments:

Maya said...

This one didn't make me wince.

I just laughed out loud, knowing s/he was grass for the snarkmower.

No one has the right to be that clueless--or is it egocentric? Even just-hatched newbies.

artisfood said...

"just waiting with bated breath to hear from you, and the very second your missive arrives they fall on it with cries of glee."

This is me, for the last 3 days, waiting for your blog . . .

It's sad, really, can't remember what I used to do when I sat down at the computer. Didn't realize till now what an Snark addict I've become!

Inkwolf said...

Welcome back, Miss Snark!

Aarin said...

It ain't monday, yet you're here. I guess BEA isn't the party outsiders think it is *wink*

Elektra said...

Ah, extra snarky for those of us going through withdrawal

Anonymous said...

Uhoh, Miss Snark is going through gin withdrawl again.

McKoala said...

Glad you're back - how's the head?

jta said...

I think 24 minutes may be rather pushing it. Agents and editors live leisurely, unhurried lives--it's why they went into the pub business in the first place--and they simply refuse to rush. A full hour gives them the time they need to properly evaluate your e-query. If you use snail-mail, simply add 3 days to the hour. Then get on that phone and make personal contact--agents and editors are "people people" who love to press the flesh and truly get to know the authors they deal with. Never underestimate the power of the human voice. Or human flesh.

It may be wise to invest in some printed labels that say "FIRST TIME AUTHOR QUERY" to stick on the envelope. This immediately alerts your target to the potential within, giving her the thrill of breaking new ground, the undiscovered country sort of thing. For around $20 you can buy enough to last the rest of your life.

It cannot be emphasized enough that a certain pizzazz is necessary to get the full attention of those who sit all day reading submissions that all look alike--invest in some paper with a little color to it, and find a font that really expresses who you are and where you're coming from.

It can never hurt to include something nice for the recipient--chocolates are reliable, if a bit unimaginative, or a pint of choice spirits, or a picture of your kids, especially if there's a baby in the frame, or one of your cats and dogs. If you don't have a cat or dog, for pity's sake
flush the sea monkeys and get one--are you a professional or not? Agents want to know.

One other frequently overlooked essential is the matter of return receipts--you must show the agent/editor that you care about your submission--that you didn't just drop it into the mailbox hoping for the best. Adding the return receipt request means they'll have to get up to go sign for it, thus giving them a much appreciated break, and giving you the luster of professionalism. Pros care about their work. Really. Show them you care.

This isn't an exhaustive list--use your imagination! It's not easy to come up with a submission that's totally fresh and original, but you can do it if you try, and there'll be no need for any jitters if you do.

December Quinn said...

Yay! You're back!

Termagant 2 said...

Dear Clue Gun Target:

1 week is too short. 1 year is too long.

T2

Jenan said...

JTA, you forgot the lime green neon paper for that three page query, the better to make one's submission stand out from the rest.

Anonymous said...

I've had agents respond the same day they received my query. One agent took four months. A couple, presumably, were hit by a cab since they never responded.

The moral of the story: keep querying.

jta said...

Doh! My bad...

kis said...

Oh, my poor snarkling, did you only just discover this blog yesterday? I'm assuming you have access to the internet, if you're emailing questions to She Who Encompasses All Wisdom. If so, why haven't you searched her archives--I'm certain the answer lies there, most likely more than once--or, more to the point, visited the websites of the agents you've queried? Many of them give estimates as to their usual response times--for agents, add a week, for publishing houses, add eight to ten months.

I can't count the number of places on the net that I've read info on this. For dog's sake, do your homework!

On the other hand, after her hiatus, She Who Devours the Wilfully Ignorant was probably in need of a meal, in which case, the rest of us are glad you were there to provide it.

Better you than me.

kis

Simon Haynes said...

I think you should put the query in the mail, then send a couple via email to every address you can find on the agent's website.
Wait 24 hours then call, and don't stop calling until they confirm that sucker arrived.
Give them a couple of days to soak up the truly awesome nature of your query before calling again to find out what they thought of it.
Remember, agents are busy people. It might take up to 48 hours before they grab the phone to offer you a deal, so it's much better if you get onto them first. You can shave a few hours off the waiting time and this way you can really sound them out - ask them how much money you'll make in the first three months, for example.
Oh, and during that initial 24 hours you should get an education. I recommend google.com - it's quite good, you can search for things like 'How to get published', for example, or 'How to get an agent' Just don't pay anyone.

Simon Haynes said...

Oh yeah, and don't forget to add copious amounts of sparkly sprinklies to the envelope. Agents love that stuff floating in their morning coffee.