Dear Miss Snark,
I have several queries (plus first chapter) that have been with agents for slightly more than a month and I understand from your words of wisdom that it's now appropriate for me to nudge them. My question is this: can you elucidate on the art of the nudge?
I don't want my gentle nudge to cause these agents to reach for their form rejections. Have you ever received a nudge that didn't make you want to do exactly that? No
No doubt brevity is in order, and accusations of malingering must be avoided. Should I also avoid the "I know you're very busy" cliche (even though it's true)? Should I include a copy of my original query? (I'm guessing not.) (actually yes, you should) Do you recommend anything more than a simple, Dear Ms. Agent, I queried you regarding my literary novel X on DATE. As you can imagine, I'm eager to hear your response so that I can rejoice (and yes, even getting asked for a partial would cause me to rejoice) or continue my search for representation. Sincerely, Aspiring Author?
Ok, here's the dog's honest truth. I HATE nudges. HATE HATE HATE. Try to avoid them if you can restrain yourself.
I really don't want to hear from you, particularly if it's one second after "the deadline".
However, knowing my colleagues (ok, me too) are lazy ass slackers, nudges are a fact of life.
The art to sending one is much like one hand clapping: devoutly to be sought, rarely attained.
First, wait twice as long as the posted guidelines. At the top of my fecal roster are email nudges from someone right after I sent them a rejection letter or two days after I've first read the thing.
Second, couch it as: "Dear Miss Snark, I mailed you a query on December 25, 2005. I've enclosed a copy with an SASE in case it was not received." This covers the possibility that you didn't send an SASE, that said SASE got lost in the mail, or any other reason you haven't heard back.
Under NO circumstances do you say "I guess you're too busy to respond" or "I guess this means no" or "you rude trollop I'm telling Grandmother Snark". I've gotten versions of all three and I didn't even have to read the material to know what I was going to do with it.
Just keep querying. All you see is the query you sent me; all I see is a stack of mail that towers over KY even when he's on his skate board dashing off to the mailbox.