MIss Snark puts on her a pair a noya

Dear Miss Snark,

I am nearly ready to begin querying agents and a question just occurred to me. I have been reading your blog faithfully and I don't remember this question coming up. When you send an email query to an agent, is it okay to use a read receipt on your email for your peace of mind that it was read? I've seen many agent's websites say if they haven't responded by two weeks to a month (of course this varies widely), they either haven't gotten the email or they aren't interested. A return receipt would at least avert the worry that they haven't received it. What do you think?

uh...you can tell when I open and read your email to me?
when did I open this one?


tt_rage said...

Read receipts are dependant upon the recipient's client software and/or email server. This means that not getting a receipt back does *not* necessarily mean the recipient hasn't opened the email.

I reckon you're better off just firing off your queries and forgetting about it. If you hear something - great! If not, ah well. At least this way you won't spend two months hunched over Outlook, continuously hitting REFRESH.

forceless said...

Oh, this one has been dealt with all right. Maybe not here. Maybe some other, less genteel site.
I believe the answer was a forceful version of "I hate those 'send read receipt' messages that pop up when I open an email."

It doesn't pay to annoy agents or editors. Especially when they are about to read your query.

Just be prepared to wait twice as long as you think is reasonable, then wait some more. Then write a newer, better, more gripping query, and send that.

litagent said...

My email program actually asks me if I want to send a receipt that has been requested. I ALWAYS say no. Just because I've opened an email doesn't mean that I've done any more than glance at it. When I've had time to really read and consider your email, I'll respond.

Kendall said...

And even if you get an RR back, it doesn't mean the e-mail was read. It might've been been opened by accident, or the recipient might've had the preview pane open and not even looked, while going down a list of e-mails (in some clients, a preview also triggers an RR).

I set up my work e-mail to nuke RR flags in internal e-mails; I believe I turned off "support" for Internet return receipts at the server years ago. When I read an e-mail is no one's business but my own. Return receipt * is possibly the most intrusive "feature" (as well as being unreliable).

* BTW, I've only ever heard it called "return receipt," which comes from the post office option for snail mail. Is "read receipt" yet another nonstandard, inaccurate Microsoft term? ;-)

Nick said...

Most read receipts I've seen have the cannon "This only means that the message was displayed on the screen, not necessarily read or comprehended."

Again, it does vary from client to client and server to server. Some messages with request read receipts may not even mention it if the client, server, or both, is incompatible.

I'll just say it's like writing on a paper query "Call me when you read this."


Simon Haynes said...

Couple of comments: In Mozilla Thunderbird you can set the options to silently ignore read receipts.
I wrote my own email app to do the same thing, because Thunderbird wasn't available then.
Be aware that some people send emails with a 'postage stamp' image that your email software will load & display from a remote server. The remote server then indicates to the sender that you've seen their email. (The image has a coded address unique to that message. Sneaky, eh?) In Thunderbird, switch off the loading of remote images to defeat this. My email prog does it automatically.
I don't know what happens if you're using web based email (gmail, hotmail, etc.) Not sure how configurable they are.

Battlerocker said...

Those return-receipts are annoying as hell. Whoever invented e-mail return receipts should be shot. Then, they should stick a little post-it note over the hole to tell us that the bullet was just received.

Anonymous said...

The internal e-mail where I used to work could determine wether or not an e-mail was opened and read. There were a few instances where bosses ignored e-mails from "less than spectacular" problem employees. When they tried to give the employees bad ratings, the unopened e-mails were held against the the boss's opinions. YOu can't ignore a bad employee and then say he or she is uncommunicative, , ,
After that, everyone opened their e-mails...

Anonymous said...

Please do not presume to tell the person you are attempting to correspond with how to run their email. A receipt request, like a priority setting, is an attempt to reach through the net and run the other person's email client to your benefit.

If you actually need a receipt, send a registered letter. If it really is urgent, make a phone call. Be sure that the other person agrees that he needed you to take these steps. He needed, not you needed.

I'll reply to your email at my convenience, not at yours.

Jeb said...

I'm with litagent. I always click 'no' on the 'send receipt?' popup. The auto-receipts mess up my send-mail function if I let them go through, and that much aggravation is guaranteed to put the sender on my spam list.

The solution for clicking refresh on Outlook every third minute is to get busy and write something else (some short & some long), until you have 3 or more projects out on query at any given time. The more irons enduring the trial by fire, the less your hopes and dreams are hanging on each one individually.

Sal said...

ah ... me too!

Getting a "this person has asked for a send receipt, do you want to send one" annoys me.

The request is always from someone I've never heard of in my life who, usually, is offering me a can't-miss chance at riches and/or fame.

I always say, "No." when asked if I want to let someone know that I've opened their mail.

Because I know how it annoys me, I never ask for a send receipt on mails I send.

Word verification: gfctqolx

What can I do with that?

Anonymous said...

The best thing about the email receipt "feature" is that it can bring down a mail server in a jiffy. The company I work for (well over 50,000 people) had this happen when one of those "missing girl" hoax emails got forwarded to every email list in the company by someone who did not have her job much longer after that.

That would not have been so bad, but so many people had out-of-office autoreplies that sent the reply to the mailing list, and so many more had return-receipt requests and auto-send-receipt-every-time that within hours the company had no email service as the mailboxes kept telling each other that the owner was out of the office but the email was received.

It was incredible, really, a perfect storm of auto emails that seem like a neat feature in the brochure but which have absolutely no practical value.

Just say "no" to read receipts.

Kiskadee said...

After sending a full ms in an attachment - to a top, top, agent - I got a critique back and made some changes in the last chapter. I then mailed the agent to let him know, and asked if he would like the revised version.
The reply was: sure, send it, "we didn't get the first version anyway."
What the...?
I was sorely tempted to send a "read receipt" when I resnet the attachment, but didn't. I did let the agent know that I HAD sent it before and I can only hope he have watched for it this time. What are thr chances of a second mail not arriving?

Lydia Teh said...

I've received email that asked if I want to notify the sender that I have opened her message. Feel very uneasy with this option : as if I'm being spied on. It's an invasion of privacy!

Haley said...

I view those "send receipt" requests as an invasion of my privacy. No offense, but it's none of your darn business when I read your e-mail. :/

I hope the friends of the guy who invented that nifty little feature are inundating him with return receipt requests on every single chain letter they forward him. LOL

Anonymous said...

When someone attaches a read receipt to an e-mail they send me, I delete the e-mail. I don't need someone checking up to see if I've read their e-mail. So no, I would not attach one to your e-mail. These days, most agents only repond to queries if they are interested.

Elayna said...

Yes, I always click no as well. Receipt requests irritate me.

Malia said...

I can't ignore read receipts at work due to the nature of what I do but they still tick me off. I'd never send one. Ever!!!

Word Verification: brqucy sounds like fun :)

Anonymous said...

I always get read receipt emails from the most irritating people I know. If I don't know someone who sends me one, as I get to know them, I find out they're irritating too.

It's not a good sign if you're longing to send one.

Another Dejected Writer said...

A receipt request, like a priority setting, is an attempt to reach through the net and run the other person's email client to your benefit.

That freaking little red high-priority exclamation point screams, "HI! I'M A JACKASS!" It's the equivalent of the guy in the BMW/Mercedes/Corvette who blows his fucking horn 3 milliseconds after the light turns green.

Kendall said...

Hahaha...I agree, I hate the high priority B.S. Someone at work sends every e-mail as high priority - I've tried to explain to him that (a) I read e-mail in the priority it is to me, usually not even in the order I receive it, and (b) it's a meaningless flag on his e-mails since every e-mail he sends me is flagged as high priority. (sigh) He still does it, so clearly, he doesn't understand that "every e-mail is urgent" means "none of them are." (Weird...he's not a stupid guy, but he just keeps doing this....)

Anonymous said...

Dear n00b,

Read receipts are really annoying. Just say no.


Georgiana said...

I'm always tempted to change the high priority flag to low priority when I reply but I figure the people who are sending me the "high priority" stuff don't have the same sense of humor I do and they'd just get even grouchier.

Anonymous said...

Are these R.R. people the same ones who send you a 10-page single-spaced bio of their terminally boring accomplishments for the year instead of a lousy Christmas card?