Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Either dead or fled, is it ok to move ahead?

I started querying a few weeks ago and today I was looking through Query Tracker to get a sense of agent response times. I found that one of the agents I queried had been removed from the agency website (and is presumably no longer with said agency).

I checked and my query email was not viewed (I track my email opens just in case I end up in spam).

With that in mind, should I still wait the eight weeks that agency suggests between querying agents or is it fair game to send to someone else within the agency? There are several other agents there that I think may be a fit.

Each agency handles email to no-longer-there agents in their own way, but once an agent is gone, and has not seen your query, it's fair game to move ahead. For one and done agencies (query one agent you're done with all the agents) it's ok to query another agent.  For other agencies, query as though you hadn't queried before.  You do NOT need to mention you queried previously.

Here at New Leaf if you query an agent who is no longer here, you'll probably get an email from me saying so, and telling you to requery another agent.  I don't know if other agencies do that but it helps me keep our incoming queries tidy.

26 comments:

Kitty said...

OP, how do you track your email opens? Is it a feature of your email provider? I use gmail, and I don't think I can do that. I remember that feature on AOL years ago.

kathy joyce said...

I've got nothing to add, but no comments is giving me the heebie jeebies! When agents change agencies, I assume they take their clients. Do they take their queries and requested pages too?

Colin Smith said...

Good question, Opie! All the best in the trenches. :)

Kitty: Outlook lets you request a "read receipt" (under Options-Tracking). It's possible gmail has a similar option somewhere.

At Kale Leaf Literary Agency on Carkoon, they hold a special séance for their deceased agents during which they read queries. Some have been known to request pages...

Kitty said...

Thanks, Colin! Gmail does have that feature.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Colin my pages that got read at the last Kale Leaf séance came on a role of one-thousand sheets.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: I'm sure they were flushed with excitement to receive them... :D

Lennon Faris said...

"For other agencies, query as though you hadn't queried before. You do NOT need to mention you queried previously."

Are you *usually* supposed to mention it, if you've already queried another agent at that same agency? (Assuming of course they allow this, and you've already received a rejection from Agent#1). Can't tell if this advice is an exception to the norm for this once circumstance, or if this is just a general rule in publishing.

Lennon Faris said...

Once, as in one. Almost got it out there.

Kyler said...

Kitty - where is this feature on Gmail? I've been looking for it. Thanks!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am very close to the query train. Can I alert all the agents on my list that they may not change agencies or die until I have finished this process? Is that too much to ask? I mean we are already dealing with a moving target. It would help if the agents themselves wouldn't physically move.

Ah well...*orders new axis for rodent wheel*

Greg Scott said...

@Colin and all - you can request a read-receipt, but that doesn't mean you'll get one. The recipient has to send one and (1) the recipient may not choose to send one, or (2) somewhere along the path from you, the sender, through your outgoing spam filter, into the recipient spam filter, to the recipient's email server and to the recipient's email client, that request for a read-receipt could fall out the bottom of a leaky bitbucket and the recipient might never see it.

Which means, when you request a read receipt and one comes back, you know your recipient opened the email. But if nothing comes back you don't know.

- Greg

Susan said...

Kitty and Colin: There's a third-party app called Yesware that you can install on your gmail that tracks when emails are opened/opened and unanswered. I used it for my business for a while, but then it drove me nutso (I'm a quick responder to emails; it was a lesson in patience to realize others are not). I can see something like this helping with tracking NORMANS and giving authors closure on that front, but I'd warn to be careful not to fall down that rabbit hole of obsessively tracking your queries.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin Hahahaha... always comforting to know how well you get the bottom of things.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks, Greg and Susan!

2Ns: No flies on me... ;)

Gigi said...

@Kitty - I use a tool called Streak, which lets you track a certain number of emails free each month. I use it for emails I need to know arrived (including queries) and it helps me keep my anxiety about spam folders in check.

Janet - thank you so much. This is helpful.

Casey Karp said...

I love the title of this post.

Gigi, Susan, et al.: As with read receipt, there are problems with all mail tracking services. Some of them, for example, embed a small graphic in the email. When the recipient's email program tries to download the graphic, the service knows the message has been opened. Aside from the fact that "opened" doesn't mean "read," not all email programs support graphics. And some let you turn off those trackers so as not to alert advertisers that you've seen their messages.

So, regardless of what service you use, as Greg said, if you get an "It's been opened," message, that's great, but the absence of a message doesn't mean the agent hasn't seen your query.

Lennon Faris said...

OK, I realize I might be the odd one out here, but - is anyone else weirded out by those receipts? Clearly the people using them here have legit reasons to do so and have no nefarious reasons behind it.

Whenever I get one, though, I give that email a hard stare. I usually do click 'yes' because otherwise the sender will think I don't care, but it feels like that person is monitoring my business.

No? No one else? I'll just see myself out here...

Casey Karp said...

It's not just you, Lennon. I tend to give those emails the ol' hairy eyeball too. As a general rule, it's nobody's business but my own if and when I read my mail.

Steve Stubbs said...

OT: I just wanted to thank you for referring us to Ben LeRoy's crit service. Very sharp fellow and he makes excellent recommendations.

I don't know how much oeuvre du dreck he can stand, but I would encourage others here to bombard him with their material. The changes he suggested are very easy to implement. So I will give my WIP (thought until now to be ready) another read-through before submitting it to the fiery breath of editorial dragons.

If Ben is crapped out or anyone wants a free opinion (you get what you pay for) you are welcome to send your masterpiece to me. Just send it in machine readable form (DOC or TXT format). If it is 300,000 words long that is OK, but pencil is too hard to read. I have vision problems. Ditto if you wrote it with lemon juice or disappearing ink. If there is anyting unusual about it, viz. if it intentionally makes no sense (i.e., is anarchic fiction) or is designed to appeal to some really esoteric market (200 year old transvestites from subterranean Antarctic caves), please advise.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I jest reelized that at 7:48 I speled role wronge. It shoold have ben roll, as in roll me over in the clover, or rolls and butter or let's roll.
It's really unnessary when writers correctitude them selves here...I mean...as if anybody reely cares.
Ok I are done and feeling stupid.

Greg Scott said...

@Lennon and @Casey - I've sent my share of emails with delivery receipt and return receipt requested. I don't flag everything that way, but agent queries, invoices, and such - yeah, I'll request both a delivery receipt and read receipt. That's not me trying to spy on anyone, it's me requesting the courtesy to at least acknowledge receipt of my message.

OTOH, I get hundreds of spam emails every day. Many are in Chinese. Don't ask me why I get spammed with Chinese emails, I just do. And some of those are flagged with a read-receipt. Lots of English ones too - I'm not trying to discriminate against the Chinese here, I just don't know how to speak or read Chinese.

Anyway, I never send a read receipt for spams because I don't want to give spammers any feedback that I exist.

- Greg

Colin Smith said...

Greg? Greg who? There's no Greg here... ;)

Casey Karp said...

No offense intended, Greg, and I hope you didn't take my comments that way. I was strictly commenting on the technological limitations of the technology.

That said, I wonder how many agents feel the same way about read receipts as I do. It could easily be taken as "checking up" on them, especially if their software prompts them to send the acknowledgement every time they open the email.

Arguments both ways. Hmm. I haven't been in the business long enough to know how queries were done pre-email; was it common to send them as registered mail? Anybody know?

Greg Scott said...

@Casey - I'm good.

> That said, I wonder how many agents feel the same way about
> read receipts as I do...

I never thought about it that way. It's good to see other points of view. Great discussion!

- Greg

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Great question, OP. I once queried someone who was on maternity leave, with an ambiguous return date. And, I've also queried agents who had passed away. Twice. I swear I didn't have anything to do with it!

Colin Smith said...

Ginger: Hey, if I had the name of Shakespeare's agent, I'd query him! :)