Friday, August 22, 2014

Query Question: Full request, but did they receive it?

A few months ago I started the querying process for a supernatural thriller of mine. Within the first couple of weeks I received three requests for the full manuscript. About a week later, two of those three agents politely declined. Three months later, and one of them has yet to get back to me. My problem is this: I emailed the manuscript to the agent's assistant as requested. The agent's website indicates response time of 4-6 weeks. It's been well over that, so last week I sent a polite follow up to the assistant just to make sure the manuscript was received, and I have yet to get a response.

Is it considered 'too pushy' to email the agent directly for a follow up? I'm worried that perhaps the assistant isn't receiving my emails. I say this because the other two agents I emailed responded right away with a "thank you! I will get back to you in ____ amount of time," but I didn't receive any confirmation from the assistant what so ever.

Thanks for you time! I hope I'm not being too paranoid.

There's no such thing as too paranoid when you're a writer. You guys can work yourselves into a frenzy over correct punctuation. I've seen it happen:

However in this case you are not paranoid. You are correct to be concerned.  I can think of several things that might have happened:

1. The assistant is no longer employed there and the agency hasn't fixed her email yet.

2. The assistant doesn't know she's supposed to acknowledge receipts of full manuscripts.

3. They didn't get it, the assistant lost it, or some other cataclysmic event that is giving the assistant conniptions.

Therefore, because this is your career, and your manuscript, you politely email the agent and say "I just want to confirm that you received the manuscript you requested from me on DATE.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  Love, You.  PS Your assistant is a slacker.

 Never assume someone got a file.  I've seen this happen, and in fact, wrote a blog post about it.

And the reason I know this is the correct path? It happens with editors too.


Kitty said...

Just a thought, but maybe you should replace that Ken Hughes quote on your header with "After the query stage never EVER assume no response means no."

LynnRodz said...

Great quote, Kitty. I'm putting it on my desk where I can see it. (I'm not at the query stage yet, but I'm getting closer.)

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Is "Love" really the appropriate complimentary close in this scenario? I've been signing all of my correspondence "XOXO SWAK" but I can update my query template if necessary.

Craig F said...

Follow up as soon as possible. In fact you should have done it a month ago. Remember that 50% of agents are in the bottom 50% of the business and a respected name often means past triumphs and not what they are currently doing.

Too many writers think of agents as making money for us when they should be thinking that agents make money from us. We should not have to be their circus animals too. Usually those that make you jump through too many hoops end up letting you down anyway. Work hard at trying to find an honest agent though it is a tough row to hoe at times.

The assistant quandary is a tough thing to figure. A lot of it has to do with the slave wages they are paid but if a good one is found they only last a few months before someone with a bigger budget offers them more money and fewer hours. Quite often the assistant is the most technologically conversant person in an office. Sometimes that office is still kicking and screaming about the digital age and think e-books are a fad. Some agents still haven’t figured out what an assistant three assistants ago did to their email.

Follow up as soon as possible. You are not making them jump through hoops because they published the rules. If they bitch you do not want them as your agent anyway.