Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Query Letter Diagnostics

I respond to all queries. If you sent a query and did not receive a response, go through this list to see what went wrong:

1. Have you waited thirty days?
I ask for 30 days to respond to queries. In addition, there is a place on the blog that shows how caught up I am. Make sure you're not jumping the gun.

NO: Simmer down and wait.
YES: Go to 2

2. Did you address it to Query@NewLeafLiterary (dot com) (in correct format of course)?
NO: resend it to that address
YES: Go to 2A

3. Did you send the email to more than one person at the same time as a cc or a bcc or on the TO line?
NO: go to 4
YES: resend it to me, and do not include anyone else, including yourself in any address line

4. Did you include an attachment of any kind?
NO: go to 5
YES: resend it to me without any attachments. Pages are pasted into the query itself

5. Did you query for more than one project in the query letter?
NO: go to 6
YES: revise your query. Query for ONLY one project at a time.

6. Did you query by post and fail to include an SASE for my response?
I do NOT send email rejections on queries received on paper.

NO: Go to 7
YES: Requery and include an SASE OR requery by email. (email is preferred)

7. Are you someone other than the author of the book?
NO: go to 8
YES: Your query was deleted. It will not help to resend it because I do not respond to queries from anyone other than author.

8. Have you sent me email in the past, such as newsletters, cute pictures, signed me up for your mailing list?
NO: go to 9
YES: your email is likely now blocked. Resend the query from a new email address.

9. Have you queried me more than twice this year for the same project?
NO: go to 10
YES: your email has been flagged as junk or spam. Stop querying.

10. Have you checked your spam filter for my reply?
(if you have one of those "please click here to be on my approved sender list" barriers--I didn't)
NO: go check
YES: go to 11

11. Does your query letter contain any phrase or word that would trigger MY spam filter?
NO: go to 12
YES: rewrite your query letter, resend

12. Does your email address resemble your account name closely enough?
My spam filter sorts those mismatches as spam.
NO: change your account name to match your email, or get a new email address
YES: go to 13

13. Does your email address provoke my spam filter? (ie is it not your name, but a description of body parts or lifestyle or stamina)
NO: go to 14
YES: get a professional email address.

14. Have you included an actual query, not just pages from your novel?
NO: Resend with an actual query (250 words approx) and the first three to five pages of the novel.
YES: Go to 15

15. Have you sent an actual query, not something you think is "better" "improved" or "more helpful" than a query? [Examples so far: an Excel spreadsheet of blog posts that comprise your novel; a published copy of the book you're querying on; a CD rom; a USB drive.]

NO: Resend with an actual query (250 words approx) and the first three to five pages of the novel.
YES: Go to 16

16. If you've gotten all the way down this list and nothing has been a do-over, try again. Pay attention to the things that trigger my spam filter, and the things that trigger my delete key.

Questions? ...well, I'd tell you to email me, but clearly that's a problem. You might try reaching out via Twitter: @Janet_Reid


RC Writer Girl said...

How long should we wait before assuming the no response is a result of one of the afore-mentioned problems, as opposed to you just being very swamped and not having had time to respond to queries? Is one month a good amount of time, if say, we're concerned our e-mail address did not match closely enough to our name? Or is there some other amount of time? (And, certainly, we do not wish to get on your bad side by requerying for the same project because we thought your spam filter ate our query). And if we do requery because we got no response and think it was your filter's fault, do we indicate that in the re-query (perhaps as a p.s.) ?

Susan at Stony River said...

Pure gold.
Thanks for the advice, and laughs!

Sheila said...

Pure brilliance, as ever. You're one step ahead of
the reader, and writer--which is why I love this
blog and your sage advice. Cheers, Sheila (NYC)

Janet Reid said...

I post the date of the most recently answered query on the blog. It's on the right hand side above the merit badge.

If you sent your query AFTER that date, wait.

If you sent your query BEFORE that date, run Query Letter Diagnostics.

If you sent your query ON that date, wait for an hour or two. Sometimes the hamsters get tired of running on their wheel and the interwebs slow down.

egael said...

I'm worried that my query has been eaten by the filter. I did the diagnostics and checked the e-mail address. I resubmitted. What should I do if there is still no response? I know you respond, so it would be the gremlins in the filter.BTW, I appreciate the fact that you are courteous not to leave authors in uncertainty.

Unknown said...

It should probably say "on the LEFT hand side" now:

"I post the date of the most recently answered query on the blog. It's on the right hand side above the merit badge."

Thanks for all your advice!

Janet Reid said...

Thanks, K. I did change it. No direction now (so I can redecorate the blog as needed!)

Lara said...

You were lickety-split on mine w/in the 30 day window, but I read this anyway, since I like you and think you're funny. Have a great day. :)