Thursday, April 24, 2014

Query question: who is this?

I just got a rejection that took me aback. It was a typical form rejection (other than one rather brusque line), thanking me for approaching the agency, but the query didn't hook them. 

However the person who responded to my email wasn't the agent I queried, but an intern as identified by their signature. I've received rejections from assistants or interns before, but always on behalf of the agent or at least the agency. This response was all I statements, as in "I am frequently overwhelmed with commitments to my current clients, so in any given year I must be selective taking on any new author."

The email was signed by the intern and came from their account, no mention of the agent at all.
(1) Is this common?
(2) Do interns get their own clients
(3) Is this a red flag that the agency isn't very professional,  or
(4) am I being overly sensitive and savoring my sour grapes?

Let's go in reverse order:

(4) No you're not being overly sensitive. It's not asking too much to have the person to whom you directed your correspondence either reply herself OR direct a person to reply on her behalf. For The Correct Way to Attend to One's Correspondence it's hard to beat the example set by Her Majesty the Q, and here's how those letters from her interns ladies-in-waiting are worded:

"The Queen wishes me to write and thank you for the matched set of unicorns you have sent on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee. etc."  

You'll notice the letter writer makes it clear it is not The Q herself writing the letter.

(3) No, it's a sign the agency has farmed out their queries to interns without much supervision.

(2) No.

(1) No.

If an agency is not supervising their interns, or is ok with interns writing directly instead of on behalf of the agent, they deserve what comes from that: you think less of them. I do too.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I guess the only thing worse than being rejected by an agent is being rejected by a non-agent intern. That's sort of like being stood-up for a date with the captain of the football team, by his kid brother, towel and water-boy.

the gold digger said...

No! It's worse! It's like you ask the captain of the football team to the Sadie Hawkins dance and he never gives you an answer but sends the waterboy to tell you "no" instead!

Lauren B. said...

This was timely. I received a similar rejection recently and definitely was more bummed about it than had it been a form rejection directly from the agent. It also leaves me wondering if I should bother querying a different agent at the same agency.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I am in proud possession of that exact same rejection (received this morning,) from I assume, the exact same intern.

With the exact same brusque closing line not shown here.

I logged it and shook my head. Given the agency's online presence, I was very surprised.

Thanks for the great post! I know it is part of the process, but it's nice to hear from the hive mind on common issues.


David Edgerley Gates said...

E.g., her Majesty the Shark wishes me to write....

BlancheDuBois said...

Matching unicorns?
Damn, it's good to be Queen!

DLM said...

I love Janet.

Agents who allow proxy BS like this, I am perfectly pleased to have reject me. It's sort of like when that schmuck with the mullet at the end of the bar DOESN'T offer to buy me a drink. All win.

Michael Seese said...

@ Gold Digger...

Watch it, pal! You're hitting mighty close to home.

french sojourn said...

Michael Seese:
Thank you for being my voice...waterboys representing in the house!

Stephanie said...

I've received these before- one without even the agency's name to identify it. I have no idea who this rejection is from. The bigger question is: Are the agents reading the queries or are they farming them out to interns/ assistants? How the hell do they know what's good and what will sell? The publishing process isn't frustrating enough without adding that I'm sending my work to people with zero experience in the field?

Elissa M said...


Many agents use interns to screen their queries. Good agents make sure their interns know what to pass on to the agent. Poor agents... are, well, poor.

Always remember, it's their loss if your work is rejected, whether by the agent or her intern.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

What about someone sending that agency/intern a link to this blog? I don't know who they are, so can't gauge their online presence, but it might give them a little wake-up jolt to see their practices being discussed in public.