Snakes in the rain on a plane in NY terrain

An agent just asked for my first 30 pages--yay! I sent them as soon as I got the message, exactly as he asked for them--yay! Only problem: my internet connection is dodgy, and sometimes it will show in my email program that the message sent, but it didn't really send. It's rare, but it has happened twice. I didn't send a receipt confirmation with the e-mail--I'm not that much of a nitwit, but how soon is too soon to check if he got the pages? I'm not trying to rush him or anything--just want to make sure he actually got the e-mail.

THANK YOU for all your help and advice!

Y'all revert to this amazingly insane "what if" motif when you start querying. Like a kid at the zoo who asks "what if the snakes escape and eat me". The answer "that won't happen" isn't reassuring cause the kid doesn't have enough life experience to know snakes won't eat you even if they do manage to tunnel through plate glass in a split second.

You yourself know the chances your email didn't arrive are remote.

You are obsessing cause you are excited and care a lot about this.
You'll drop dead of cardiac arrest if you don't manage your adrenal flow.

Take a deep breath.
Look at the CALENDAR.
Count 30 days forward.
If you haven't heard back in 30 days you send an email.
If he didn't get it, he'll ask for it again.

Word to the wise: an email asking "did you get it" is a HUGE red flag for people I don't want to work with. Sit on your hands, climb Mt. Everest, get a grip, do what it takes but please be cool.


Judy Schneider said...

It is extremely difficult to contain your enthusiasm and anxiety as you await a response. The snake what-if game MS mentioned is just one of the steps. We writers also love to reread and evaluate every single word contained in the often brief email correspondences we receive from agents. But that's part of the fun. Pat yourself on the back and reflect upon those times when receiving an email message from an agent was just a dream!

I'd grab a cappuccino and plow back through the rest of the manuscript one more time, making it as perfect as you can for when that agent requests the full! Keep picturing yourself reading the follow-up email that says, "Send me the whole thing."

Good luck!

RyanBruner said...

This seems to be more common than you'd think.

I rarely have e-mail problems. Yet, when it has come to agents and submissions to literary magazines, I have had problems about five times in the past year. In one case, I contacted the agent (after waiting, of course), but she didn't receive my e-mail asking if she got my manuscript. I waited again, but eventually e-mailed her using an entirely different e-mail address. That one went through, and no, she hadn't received either e-mail.

Another agent had some filtering software that filtered out my e-mails for no apparently reason. When I followed up, he hadn't received anything, and subsequently had his filtering software disabled.

I don't know why this is. It is suspicious, but gives just cause for worrying about it. It happens, more than you realize.

But, alas...the waiting time period applies, regardless.

Dr. Dume said...

I don't know why, but the 'did you get it' Email gave me an image of a car full of kids screaming 'are we there yet?'

Is that how it feels, I wonder?

Miss Snark said...

It feels like nagging. And nagging by someone who hasn't paused to consider that their work isn't the only thing I'm doing. Or even in the top ten of things I'm doing. Or even in the "do it and you'll be better off".

Reading stories on spec (ie the slush pile) is necessary but not urgent.

It doesn't feel that way to y'all I know, but it's still how it is.

Heidi the Hick said...

I am so very much NOT cool.

When/ if I get to this stage with an agent I will have to stuff an ice pack in my shirt for a month.

Twill said...

Next time, blind copy yourself on the email. You can use the same account or a different account.

That way you know it got out to the Internet. From there, the chances of it not getting to the recipient are miniscule.

Doesn't do anything about filtering software, but at least you know it made it to his/her server.

mkcbunny said...

If the question is whether it was actually sent, vs. filtering at the other end, you can always cc yourself on outgoing mail. Set up a separate free e-mail account on yahoo, gmail, or hotmail, and cc yourself on all correspondence with agents. If you receive a copy there, then you'll know the e-mail was sent.

You'll never know if the mail was spam-filtered at the other end, but that's where climbing Everest comes in.

Bernita said...

I sent a "Did you get it?" email this morning.
The origional query was dated Jan 18.
Just the same I worry it may be interpreted as a nag.

Anonymous said...

E-mails do get lost in the system. The UDP protocol does not guarantee delivery (unlike TCP) and neither does the network layer IP protocol. Moreover, if a message somehow gets started looping through the system, the network "ages" it, decrementing a counter every time it loops. Otherwise, a software error could cause messages to loop eternally. After it "ages" so many times it is discarded.

Send it twice at spaces of one hour with an explanation why you are re-sending.

Anonymous said...

"If he didn't get it, he'll ask for it again."

As always, Miss Snark gives excellent advice. Also, sending a copy to yourself by bcc or cc is a terrific idea to show that it did get out to the Internet.

Then start climbing Mt. Everest, or maybe start working on the next story to keep your brain occupied.

Smith said...

I just came here after dealing with two undeliverable mails that were deliverable two days ago, but not four days ago. I just finished tweaking because my email to Jamaica to get confirmation for hotel rooms (after buying my air) didn't make it. And you need to wait about 2 weeks on mails to them as it is--soon come, mon culture. If I ever have the opportunity to send samples pages, I will most humbly beg to send by snail mail, deny having access to the net if I have to, and take my chances with that.

j h woodyatt said...

See, this is one of the advantages of hosting your own email transfer agent.

If the need becomes overpowering, I can grovel through the server logs and see for myself if the email was delivered into the agent's mail queue. Of course, I can't know whether the agent is a moron and hasn't configured their spam filter properly, but that turns out to be a self-reinforcing system: agents who are that stupid about computers and email are not going to want me for a client anyway.

j h woodyatt said...

The UDP protocol does not guarantee delivery (unlike TCP) and neither does the network layer IP protocol. Moreover, if a message somehow gets started looping through the system, the network "ages" it, decrementing a counter every time it loops. Otherwise, a software error could cause messages to loop eternally. After it "ages" so many times it is discarded.

Send it twice at spaces of one hour with an explanation why you are re-sending.

Sean Lindsay, is that you?

Seriously, this is very dumb advice and the notion behind it is wrong in like six different ways. Email delivery is more reliable that postal mail delivery. The vast majority of dropped emails happen because of poorly configured spam filters. You, as a writer, don't have any control of your prospective agent's mail filtering rules. If they're idiots, there's nothing you can do about it except try to avoid querying idiots.

Stop obsessing about it.

Daryl Andrews said...

I was reading along and got hung up on the snake example. Ya see... My kid sister and I went to the zoo... and she stood to close to the plate glass window and the anaconda...

It is too painful to talk about...

The New MBA said...

Oh man! This absolute thing happened to me. I got the “send me more” email while I was on vacation. I was trying to access my work account remotely in some little hotel business center in Canada. I had to send two emails (attachments were too big) and one got bounced back. I sent it again.

I waited one week to ask if she got the second email the second time I sent it. She politely told me she did.

I blew it, didn’t I? Miss Snark. You just ruined my weekend. (I’m joking – your advice is so great and I love it. Thanks.)

Xenith said...

I was thinking of mentioning an incident earlier this week where an author didn't receive an acceptance email for a short story, so they were a bit confused when the editor emailed them directly to ask if they were OK with substantial edits; but that might just worry anyone who is waiting on an email so I won't mention it.

Terry said...

I waited and waited, and finally (about 6 weeks after the maximum website time) I emailed the agent. Two emails went unanswered (several weeks apart). I sent another from a different email account, and was told, "gee, I remember the title, but don't remember the work. My response probably got lost, but feel free to send again, and I'll look at it as soon as it crosses my desk." This time, I DID send a 'did it arrive?' email (at least a week after hitting 'send') and got a prompt, 'yes, you'll hear from me very soon.' That was about a month ago. I've pretty much kissed it off.

Anonymous said...

Any agent who *requests* material and can't be arsed to reply back, or send an auto-reply saying "We received your email, now keep your bloody pants on for 30 days or until I get to the bottom of my gin pail, whichever comes first," is not someone I want to work with. I'm in IT sales and am well aware of how unreliable email has become because of spam filters. I think an auto-reply for a query letter is nice too, but I can forgive an agent for not replying to *that*. However, it's just good manners to acknowledge receipt of information *you requested*. I have to confess I'm really surprised at your answer, Miss Snark.

Anything after "yes I got your email now @#$% off until I finish my gin and marathon George Clooney-shag," before the 30 days is up is suitable reason for beating a writer to death with a clue gun.