Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ping! Ping!

Late yesterday afternoon as I was winding up the affairs of the day I got an email from a writer asking the status of his query.

As most of you know I keep a running count of how current I am, right here on this blog.

It looks like this:

This writer pinged me for something sent on 1/25/15 so clearly he should have heard back.

I checked my incoming queries. Sometimes I flag something for a more thoughtful reply than the form letter that goes out, and forget to adjust for that on the "current through" date.

Sometimes I have queries on hold pending something else. (Inspiration, mostly. Sometimes just wanting to give the pages a second read.)

And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, things get lost. Or misfiled. Or tossed (by mistake.)

Which is what had happened here. Even though it came after several rounds of conversation in the Chum Bucket (which means his emails were getting through just fine) that final query was nowhere to be found.  Yes it was in my gmail archives so I knew I'd received it, but nope, nowhere on the mail management program.  Ooops.

I asked the writer to send again, and this time I made sure it went in the Incoming Query folder and I plan to answer it tonight...just to make sure it gets a reply.

What does this mean for you? Never assume no if the agent says they'll reply to your query.  Always ping at least once.  Things get lost. Things go astray. Even here at The Reef where emails are color coded and royalty statements are numbered.


Craig said...

Without fail the Queen makes overtures twice yearly. The overtures to show proof of her humanity have failed greatly because her audience believes that those proofs are manufactured.

Colin Smith said...

Since I know QOTKU is not the only agent reading this (I've seen the Tweets and re-posts), let me take this opportunity to tell you all my TOP TWO ways to help writers not have to wonder if their query ever made it to your inbox:

1) Have an auto-response on your inbox, and tell queriers, "If you don't receive an automated email within (reasonable time period), then your query wasn't received. Try again."

2) Respond to every query. That way you can say, "If you haven't heard from me within 4-6 weeks, I didn't receive your query. Try again."

I think that would really help us.

Julie Weathers said...

And there you have it. A friend and I were talking about this exact thing last night. She has QueryTracker and there's a feature that shows all queries and timelines. There were some no responses even though this agent always replies.

Great timing as usual.

Colin Smith said...

Color coded emails and numbered royalty statements. You're so organized, Janet!

Speaking of organized, have you settled into the new digs? You posted "before" pics of the new place on FB. Did you ever post "after" pics?

Anonymous said...

Actually..., my first thought was, uh oh, this person should have gone to the "Query Letter Diagnostics," and the "why you didn't hear back" link.

But, I guess they did. Either way, I re-read the QLD page, and honestly, that pretty much covers any way a writer can stink up their own query and then know how to fix it.

In this case, it sounds like this person went thru the QLD. They made it all the way down the list and then pinged. Good for them!

That's all I got.

LD Masterson said...

May I assume this advice does not apply to agents who state on their websites that "no response means no"?

REJourneys said...

On Colin's note, I agree with the "Respond to every query". I know it's hard, but is there a software that can do that? Where you press a button and a form rejection is sent (a form rejection each agent/agency customizes).

If there isn't, there should be. We could reach out to tech savvy entrepreneurs or growing software developing companies and ask for it.

I will tell you all that I am more likely to query an agent who says they will respond to every query, no matter what, over an agent that doesn't.

I know I can't be the only one.

Now, I'm back to my cave. I must ensure the one-way train to Carkoon doesn't come for me.

Anonymous said...


Depending on how awesome the agent is, I'll sometimes nudge, anyway, just to be sure. If I don't hear back from the nudge, I'll just assume 'no', then move on.

Colin Smith said...

REJ: I believe Janet has such an "auto-form-reject" button that she uses. And she has offered to show other agents how to set this up. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

That's my deleted comment because I had to add a missing word, which if I left out, made me look like a writing-neophyte.

Let's just say I thought no reply meant no so I didn't ping. Actually I forgot I had queried one particular agent and just today, after a particularly crappy day regarding the selling of our house, a day which I am labeling, Disappointing with a capital D, and a few tears, I finally receive a reply to my query and writing sample, sent 6, six, SIX months ago.

The sample was good, (" have great material on your hands...") she said, but my memoir is too similar to what she is already handling. She named the author and title. (No it's not, I checked and she spelled her author's name wrong).

But I have great material on my hands, that's good...right?

Anyway, I really shouldn't feel bad because I'll bet if she became my agent she'd always forget the second N. It's disappointing when folks forget I have 2Ns.

Just another little something to bitch and moan about, like the taste of lima beans.

Elissa M said...


You're right, you're better off without an agent who can't spell her clients' names properly. If it makes you feel any better, people are always misspelling (and mispronouncing) my name, too: Elisa, Eliza, Alyssa, Alisa, Ellisa, etc.

Funny thing, my sister Amy hates her name because it's "ordinary". At least people can spell it. Maybe not that agent, though...

Amy Schaefer said...

For agents who insist on a "no response means no" policy, I agree with the auto-responder suggestion, coupled with a clear timeline (no response within x weeks means no). That does queriers the minimum courtesy of knowing their query arrived, and when they can safely close it out.

I have had agents who apparently always answer not respond. I don't nudge. Maybe next time I should.

Amy Schaefer said...

Elissa, you would be surprised at the myriad ways people can butcher "Amy". And don't even get me started on "Schaefer." That name is a spelling mistake waiting to happen.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Elissa and Amy, I went to school with a Honey Potts and a Sundae Monday. What's funny is that Honey complained because they always spelled Potts with one T and Sundae hated that people always spelled her name like the day...hello...what do you think your parents were thinking of.

Why do parents make up such funny names?

My brother-in-law the teacher, had a kid in his class, (the name was pronounced as Sha-theed), spelled Shithead.

Anonymous said...

A name.

Dick Trickle.

What were his parents thinking is right. Right on up there with 2N's Shatheed, a.k.a. Shithead.

The only thing NOT funny about Mr. Trickle was something Ms. Janet posted quite a while back. Very sad, but talk about grabbing your attention for a read.

Hey, how about growing up an Everhart? I, of course, didn't, but hubby got lots of fun variations - these were misspellings and name callings galore, all on purpose. Everfart. Everhard. Neverhard.

I guess the list was endless and elementarily amusing.

Janet Reid said...

This is the post that donnaeverhart made reference to:

An example of spare, elegant writing

It's a great article, well worth the read, even if you care not for cars or racing.

Ardenwolfe said...

Great advice again.

Sam Hawke said...

The surname I was born with got constantly mispronounced and misspelled, despite it being short and simple. I am grateful that no-one has yet misspelled 'Sam'!

Jed Cullan said...

Things go missing at the reef. And it's not always the fault of the writer. This is no surprise to me. As cakes go missing from Janet's office all the time. And it isn't my fault. It's not. These things happen.

And on the misspelling names. I always get my surname misspelled. Too many think it's "Cullen" as in that stupide vampire, rather than how it should be spelled, "Cullan" with an 'a' not an 'e'. Stupid Edward Cullen and his stupid misspelled name.

I need to go find some cake.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Next on my reading list: Elegy of a Race Car Driver

C. L. McCollum said...

I had a similar thing happen - took a lack of response as a "no response means no" for a small press. Just happened to mention it to someone who knew the company, and they were like "no, they're definitely responding to everyone." Checked in with them, and gmail had eaten the email they sent me request a full. Always pays to check unless the website specifically says not to!

DLM said...

I am screwing myself royally, I guess. I just do not follow up. I work about 48 hours a week, and while there I do NOT do my unpaid job, go on FaceBoook, blog, etc. I also simply refuse to become one of those people who think getting fifteen minutes of sleep per night is somehow cool and/or worthwhile. And I'm alone - EVERYTHING to do with pet care, family and friends, and the not at all minimal job of homeownership? That's on me.

I have, if a day is ludicrously fortunate, maybe two hours a day to devote to relaxing and/or doing my unpaid job as a pre-publishee/woodland creature. In this time, I have to research agents, administrate querying, research my *WIP* (because, yeah, that's a thing too), work on sketching it, and perhaps steal a bite of crappy supper.

Adding an entire new layer of administration to the already massive database that is my querying system is more than I can emotionally manage, seriously. It's more false hope, it's more second-guessing - in a process where second-guessing is already in abundant supply, and not in fact desirable.

I query. I don't really wait. It's been my experience, with the agents who do request, that they do so usually VERY soon after a query - one to two days, really no longer. Once a query is a week old, I presume it to be a pass, and keep researching. Period.

Just got a rejection on a query from NOVEMBER, which I assumed to have sailed literally months ago now. Nice to know, but following up never once crossed my mind. And it did not overturn that "in my experience" timeline, either.

I prefer getting the auto-respond. But if I don't - given that I literally make my living trying to REDUCE the influx into my and other peoples inboxes - the idea of ADDING to anyone's inbox just is not possible for me.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

I used to work in a govt office where I.D. was produced. Someone named their child Chewbacca. Really? Really. Evil parents.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Cakes go missing all the time? Whoops, part of my tiramisu went missing. I made it for a pot-luck tonight, but had a hankering for it that I couldn't ignore! Oh well, it's mooshy enough with all the rum I put in it, I can maneuver it around to make it look as good as new!