Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Art of Requerying

In case it wasn't obvious, I am not an ogre. I do not lose people's queries deliberately. My goal in life is not to make yours miserable.

But what happens, you ask, when you don't get a reply to a query? The broad rule of thumb is that you wait eight weeks (longer if you sent the query through international postage), and then you politely requery the agent. How does one requery, you ask?

Example #1:

Dear Agent,

You are a moron. You have lost my query because your office filing system is so bad. It does not matter that you receive a large quantity of mail weekly. MY query is so important that you should never, ever, ever have lost it. I hate you!

Now will you represent me?

Prospective Author

The above example is how NOT to requery an agent. Here is what you should do.

Example #2:

Dear Agent,

On August 15, 2006, I queried you about my novel, THE JOY OF BEING AN AUTHOR. I have not yet received a reply to my query, and so I am checking to make sure that it has not gone astray in the mail. I have included a copy of my original query with this letter, as well as a SASE. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Prospective Author

Are we all on the same page now?


Kimber An said...

I wouldn't fault you for losing a query, Jenny! To err is human. What really annoys me as a writer is agents who don't bother to respond at all if they're not interested and agents who behave as if they don't have to be considerate of writers who aren't making them money. So far, I've only been a witness to this second group of annoying agents. All the agents I've queried to who have responded, positive or negative, have been polite.

Joe said...

Agents are just people -- some nice, some not-so-nice, and some dreadful. Thus far, I've encounted all three types, the last including someone who insisted that I needed to hire her father-in-law as an editor!

McKoala said...

OMG, I think did something right. How rare is that.

I haven't heard from an agent who requested a full manuscript from me months ago. Today I wrote a letter scarily similar to the one you suggest (I added a point or two describing the novel - genre, length, a single plot sentence) and sent it off with the manuscript once again. I hope that the rules you outline apply to fulls as well as partials!

Kimber An said...

Way to go, mckoala! My sympathies to Joe.

Maria said...

Are you the same Jenny that did the review on Intergalatic medicine?


I enjoyed that review.

kiwi said...

Joe is on the money here; "... agents are just people--some nice some not-so-nice ..."

And Like Joe, I've also met all three types. If you work in this business, then there are some harsh realities you have to just accept, and this is no more so than for the first time writer. Expect a small percentage of your submissions to go unanswered; expect a good level of rejection, expect to wait, and wait and wait ...

To survive in this business, you have to be thick-skinned (please forgive the clich├ęs)

The good news is, once you secure your first agent, and then your first book contract, it gets easier. And when you are making a good income doing what you love, all the hard work, struggles and difficulties that went before, pale into insignificance.

Above all else, be patient, persevere, and be kind and forgiving!

Joe said...

I think most agents, and, heck, most people in general, are probably overworked to the point of being numb. And when that happens, one of the first things to go out the window is niceties.

I've yet to sell my novels or even get an agent, but I've been a non-fiction freelance for twelve years and have encountered the same things on that side of the fence. You've just got to roll with it.


Jenny Rappaport said...

mckoala, you did exactly the right thing! =)

And maria, I am indeed the same Jenny who writes for Intergalactic Medicine Show. I publish under my full name, that's all... which is Jenny Rae Rappaport, for those who weren't paying attention. =)