Saturday, March 14, 2015

Query Question: fretting about this whole nudging thing

I'm really confused on this whole nudging concept as it seems different for every agent. I queried Awesome Agent -- a top agent at a top agency, very popular and seemingly, well, awesome -- and his/her agency's website says to nudge after 30 days on a query (but says nothing about submissions). So after 30+ days on my initial query, I politely nudged. Nothing. Then a short time later, AA requested a partial in a Twitter contest for the same MS. I sent it and noted that I'd recently nudged on a query, in case AA wondered why I was in their inbox twice. Crickets.

Now it's been 50+ days since I sent the requested partial, and still nothing. Others have reported that AA has been silent on their nudges regarding offers of rep from other agents. AA has also not replied to anyone in quite awhile, according to Query Tracker.
I've done Advanced Searches on Twitter to make sure I'm not missing updates about where AA is in his/her submissions, but there's nothing barring one very vague reply to someone, referencing how some agents are behind.

I realize partials take longer than queries, but given AA never replied to my initial query and isn't replying to people with offers of rep, I'm tempted to query another agent at the agency, as there are others who I think would be good fits as well. I've got numerous fulls and other partials out right now, but I was really hoping to hear what AA thought. But now I just don't know.

Is it just me, or isn't this a little unprofessional? I understand agents are incredibly busy, but AA hasn't closed for queries, or even made an official mention of being behind, or time frames, or anything public I can track down. I want to give this person more leeway, as, after all, they are AA. But I don't want to be the person who nudges their way to a big fat form rejection.

Your thoughts would be appreciated!

Well, my thoughts would probably set something on fire so stand back: This kind of Radio Silence is Not Ok.

And by Not Ok, I mean bad news.

Agents are no more busy than the rest of the world. That we are somehow exempt from 1. common courtesy 2. sound business practices or 3. karma, is delusional on our part.  I've been on panels where agents busily recount the number of queries in their inbox or how they have to work on the weekend to keep up, and I want to say "take care of small children and then get back to me on busy."  We're ALL busy. 

The difference is that agents are running a damn business here.  How you conduct your business tells people something.  If you can't be bothered to reply to people that you've asked to send work, that says something.

That said, people get behind. *I* get behind.  Just this week I had to meaculpa a client on letting her emails back up too long.  It happens.  The difference is: you don't let it go 50 days, and you start out with "I'm sorry." And it's NOT the norm.

Yes there's a difference between clients and queriers.  But the standard is the same: if someone asks about a project, a quick reply within a reasonable amount of time is NOT too much to expect.

So, what to do here?

You'll want to keep querying of course.

You'll have to hold off querying other agents at Agent (NotSo) Awesome's agency till you either hear from her or withdraw the ms.

And you'll want to think carefully about what to do if Agent Awesome comes out from under her rock and is excited about your ms.  Bad communication doesn't end at the query queue. It starts there.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Just wanted to be the first to comment because from now on my hours will put me in the middle of the pack.
AAs are not always what you think they are. Move on, woodland creature, and don't look back...unless AA replies. Then rethink what a long working relationship would be like with someone who gives you the silent treatment.

Unknown said...

I am smiling politely in my pew saying, "Amen," Miss Janet.

Ardenwolfe said...

I never understood why asking a simple question, from someone you want to potentially work with to make money, is such a nerve-wracking experience to some.

Consider this: if the agent you wanted, lacked even the time or respect to respond to a simple question, did you really want that agent championing your work?

The lack of professional standard wasn't on your part.

That said, writers need to stop acting like querying or asking a simple question to an agent is like holding your hat out for bread crumbs.

Agents expect you to act like a professional. Why are we questioning whether they should do the same?

Unknown said...

OP, thanks for bringing this up. I queried the beginning of Nov. I didn't nudge because I thought holidays and all. Agent is requesting in the twitter contests so I'm a little confused, but that's a natural state for me.

Then there's a Q&A session and I ask if the agency still responds to all queries or if a no response means no interest. Nope, we still respond to all queries, but some are behind. I re-queried in Jan. because I had multiple links in my signature previously and it might have gone to spam.

Still nothing. I was going to write off the agency even though there are some other agents there who would be a good fit, but I may just withdraw it in the next month or so and try again.

Perfect timing for this question and answer. Thank you.

LynnRodz said...

Damn, I'm so grateful I found this blog! I mean where else can we get straightforward information on how agents work and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior? What I need to keep in mind when I do start to query is, I'm "not a goddamn beggar at the banquet of publishing." Thanks, Janet, I hope you're having fun in Portland.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest you rename this agent NAA (for Not Awesome Agent) and move on.

Megan V said...

Radio silence must be trendy right now...and not just from literary agents. I spent the last 2 weeks trying to get a hold of several real estate agent awesomes (via phone and e-mail) to no avail, until I finally drove the 5 hours and politely barged into their office (something I would never do to a literary agent, NEVER EVER (please please don't add me to the naughty file!), but which was necessary under current circumstance as I need a place to live once I move for work in a few days). Said office of agent awesomes informed me they'd received my calls and emails, but whenever they are too busy to show properties, they simply don't respond to inquiries/ nudges."It's standard procedure." Imagine my shock. As QOTKU said, bad communication doesn't end at the query stage (whether its an inquiry re: manuscript representation or an inquiry into a place to live). I decided not to work with those real-estate agent awesomes. Similar behavior from a literary agent would have me thinking twice.

Unknown said...

Megan V that is not standard practice. It's rude, unprofessional, and arrogant. Find a different Realtor.

Craig F said...

My query is almost grown up enough not to embarrass me in public. So I have been researching agents for the big event. At the bottom of a lot of submission pages I have begun to see disclaimers that say you will only here from them if they are enticed to read more.

Is this dead air supposed to be a good thing? Is it really that hard to set up your e-mail to send a form rejection at the push of the easy button? The only thing for sure is that the writer will feel like they are in limbo.

Because of these policys all you can do as a writer is keep pushing on. Somewhere out there is an agent who thinks you are capable of replacing both the wheel and sliced bread. Keep looking until you find each other.

DLM said...

I've never once nudged on a query. Requests for fulls, yes, but never on a query - "don't call us, we'll call you" is just so entrenched that even with agencies who do specify acceptable nudge periods, I don't. I've got too much to keep track of as it is without keeping track of the two out of like thirty-seven who'll accept a nudge.

Perhaps this is doing me out of good prospects, but my experience is that I've NEVER gotten a read request longer than a couple of *days* after an initial query. I may technically consider queries "active" for up to twelve weeks (it seems like it used to be four to six weeks, but now twelve has become increasingly "the standard") but the fact is I give up on a query after a week's gone by with no word. That means most of what I've got out there, I frankly expect is dead in the water. Why would I nudge?

I'm not exceptionally pessimistic, it's just that what I write is not market-dominating in the first place, and at this point hasn't gotten a response of any kind in over a month in the second place. I'm focusing on research, research, research, what passses for my platform, life, and the WIP. Which, I suspect would get a LOT of response right now - and will when it's ready.

Nudging on a query seems to me one of those time-expenditures with a rock-bottom low likelihood of being worthwhile. I actually wish more agencies used the old auto-respond to confirm an email got through so I could scratch 'em off the list without the slightest second thought. We have too much to think twice about as it is!

Lizzie said...

I've had a similar experience with AA or someone equally behind. I was guessing that AA was abandoning office policy of responding to queries, but then you check QT and so and so gets a no immediately after a nudge. What's my nudge, anchovy pineapple pizza?

Lizzie said...

DLM: I agree it's a low likelihood. I really don't mind if radio silence means no, it's just that The QT forum reports AA or someone similar responding and requesting to query nudges. And these nudges are requested on their website. Unless the QT comment section is urban legend someone has had a partial with AA since people were using iPhones 4s, cupcakes were on the way out, Obama had high approval ratings, and Orange Is The New Black was just a memoir.

DLM said...

Oh, I know there are agents who do the nudge, but - I mean, does it INCREASE my odds? I feel like it doesn't. And, apart from a mortgage-paying-and-pet-feeding job, this unpaid second job, the constant work of homeownership, pets, friends, family, and life - "it just takes a second" things just add up too quickly. And I'm just at a point with this grind that I resent being expected to do it ALL when - as Janet has pointed out to us! - I'm not actually the beggar at this banquet. My work is GOOD. If agents are willing to miss out on it, at a certain point that's their problem, I can't take that on too as my own.

Lizzie said...

DLM: I pretty much agree. Querying is such a humbling experience, and when an agent doesn't follow their own guidelines it becomes an uncertain one as well. Sending one nudge doesn't bother my moral. That nudge was part of the deal the AA agency presented. If you don't hear back within x time... But what's not part of bargain, as far as I can tell, are the query hashtags (which have nothing to do with AA).

Sorry to bring it up again, but if any other industry did this wouldn't it be shut down? An HR person tweeting about details of rejected resumes for a job followed by a form no? An online dating website endorsing tweets about failed connections followed by an email that your date didn't like you?

If there are any agents aside from Janet reading this, I hope you'll realize that the query crit hashtags are astronomically disrespectful. You shouldn't use someone's effort to make a private business connection as fodder for your many Twitter followers.

Does anyone else agree with me? Or am I alone here?

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

It's just another in a long list of reminders that in this part of the business, as in so much else in life – There are no rules!
There's what everyone does, and there's what works. But there are no rules that, if the writer breaks one, they go to jail. If AA's agency has a rule about always responding and AA doesn't, and keeps her job, then obviously, it's not a rule. Just another promise to break. So don't feel bound by what they say are rules. Do what it takes to get your book out there. Until you have an agent, your only obligation is to yourself and your work.

Unknown said...


I set up my spreadsheet with comments on expected reply time and make a note if they say nudge if you don't hear. It's not terribly time consuming and sometimes stuff just falls through the cracks.

Some agents have even commented they picked something up that had fallen through the cracks.

That being said, an agent who has had my full and was going to get back to me by the end of November is still mia and I haven't nudged them. So, who am I to talk?

DLM said...

Julie, that's actually *exactly* it, though - I've already got enough of a database going on this job as it is, without adding "oh and also follow up pointlessly" to it to boot. :) I've been a secretary for 30 years, I know how to set this stuff UP. I just do not see any reason to.

John Ol' C - LOVE THIS: "Until you have an agent, your only obligation is to yourself and your work." So. Well. Put.

Bill N., I hadn't really thought about the privacy/presumption of these things. To a degree, insofar as what an agent Tweets or writes about is received via publich channels like Twitter and social networking (as opposed to a business letter, which an emailed query is) - I'd say there is a release involved, where privacy expectations are waived. If I'm participating in a public query event on Twitter, I'm expecting my rejections to be public, and I don't care about how sweetly they're sugared. That, to me, is akin to what folks sign up for writing to Janet, or submitting to Query Shark. But ... yeah, I wouldn't be nuts about finding a snark online that I could clearly identify as being about my own query. The question is, how likely is it any Tweet like that would be identifiable to anyone but me? And is it comparable to an agent telling other agents that I and my work are not wortwhile in any way they could recognize if I queried those who heard it?

Interesting questions, though. I spent about twenty years in IT and finance, and PII (personally identifiable information) is very much an awareness of mine. It'd be a fuzzier issue in this context, though ...

Elissa M said...


I don't even follow twitter, so the hash tag thing doesn't bother me. This is assuming the excerpts are completely anonymous and there are no identifying details. It seems to me this is a "don't do this" service to both the original querier and those following the feed. And I've seen lots of HR tidbits of dumb things people have done in job interviews or written in applications, so this isn't limited to literary agents.

As far as the original quandary goes, I feel a bit like DLM. I'm going to put every query I send out of my mind (other than to mark when and to whom I sent it) unless I hear back. Partials and fulls are completely different, and I'll nudge when appropriate. But I'm certainly not going to sit by the phone waiting for "that special someone" to call.

Unknown said...

Bill Negotiator

There are a great many people, me among them, who disagree with you about the query tweeting. In a time when more agencies are going to the no response means no interest, it's tremendously valuable to get a look at the process.

Usually what comes out of it is:

1. Follow the instructions.

2. I can't do anything with your previously published book.

3. It's all subjective.

4. They don't rep this genre. They say they don't on their site. They don't understand it and so they can't take it.

Well, if I wrote that genre, I would make a note, though to be honest, I'd be following the guidelines anyway, not to query this agent. They just don't get it.

Agent A tweets something about a women's fiction with historical elements they wanted to love, but the writing wasn't there.

Julie with one L goes to B&W and says, "Hey, Agent A just mentioned she'd really like a historical WF. Put her on your list."

The tweets are generic enough they could fit any of a hundred stories. The dialogue is stiff. Seriously? Someone is going to say, "OMG that agent is talking about me. I'm so offended."

The tweets give us who follow them an idea of what is and isn't working and I praise these agents for taking their time to do so, just as do the agents who do query critics and write blogs to help writers.

They don't have to do this. They don't get paid for it. It isn't part of their job description.

I got into this discussion with the owner/operator/editor of a small press who has asked me to submit FR to him a few times.

He makes a grandiose statement about how he would never be so callous as to air rejections in #tenqueries, nor with he work with agents who do.

I explain how generic these tweets are and they are helpful.

He would not do this to authors, it's unprofessional. I remind him of a tweet he did about his own clients saying he had to edit so many hyphens and commas in their work and called them lazy authors.

So, "An agent who is commenting generically about a query that doesn't refer to a client is bad, but you calling your clients lazy authors because you have to edit their work is all right?"

Then I ask how many of his clients are represented by agents.


So, the grand statement about how he would never work with these agents makes him look very powerful, but doesn't really mean much.

Christina Seine said...

At the risk of being expelled to Carkoon forever, this reminds me of when we were trying to get some work done on our house recently, and trying to get an appliance installed (that we couldn't do ourselves). I spent HOURS on the phone leaving messages with appliance-installing guys, following up on my messages, double-checking my own message machine, and generally getting mighty annoyed. Someone in the construction biz explained to me that the current atmosphere is such that appliance-installing guys can pick and choose their jobs; in other words, they didn't need the work so they just ignored my calls - like the Evil Real Estate Agents that Megan mentioned. Grrrrr. I finally ran across a handyman who was hungry for work, who did a bang-up job (not literally), cost me half as much, and was so glad for the job that he went the extra mile, cleaning up after he was done and even being nice to my ultra-inquisitive kids. You can bet I kept his card. And, I’ve since recommended him to friends.
I guess what it comes down to is common (or not-so-common-anymore) courtesy. As Janet said, don’t even say, “I’m so busy” in my presence if you’ve got less than five people shouting Mommommommommommommommom at you while you’re on the phone. If an agent (even an awesome one) is so big for their britches that they won’t even answer a nudge, I’d say you’re better off with someone else. Because even if you did sign with AA, you know there will always be a Super Client who gets more of his/her attention than you will. Maybe a dozen of them. That doesn’t sound like an ideal business relationship to me.

Unknown said...

Well, I'm not going to come down on agents too much except Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Don't lie to me and tell me you're sending out my manuscript when you aren't and can't even find it.

I'll just move along. I don't know what's going on in their world. This is why I pay attention to things like QueryTracker comments and the like.

I remember getting a call from school once. My middle son had swallowed a watch battery and they suggested I take him to the ER immediately. I asked my secretary to reschedule a showing for that afternoon and headed to the school to get my kid.

The doctor tried to fish the battery out, but time was running out. The stomach acid would be eating through the metal soon then the battery would leak inside the kid. He fished it out on the very last attempt before they wheeled him into surgery.

We got home hours later to a phone ringing off the wall and my customer cussing me out for being so rude and inconsiderate after she had taken the afternoon off.

I've had people file charges on me with the Realtor's board and try to get my license because I didn't measure their house the day I listed it. There's no rule saying you have to, we usually did to double check the footage.

I've dragged my kids out of bed to go show a house because Pastor so and so can only look at night after counseling sessions and this is my job.

I've stopped shoveling horse crap out of the stalls to go show a house in the country club and told the guy I was cleaning stalls. He didn't care, he wanted the house opened. Then part of the entourage complains to the board of Realtors because I show up to a million dollar house with jeans and dirty boots.

I'm disappointed that agent AA hasn't responded with a yes, no, or by your leave, but that's life. I like Agent AA, but even if they requested tomorrow I would have to wonder about future communications, as Janet said.

Beyond that, I don't know what's going on. There are other agents. Withdraw the material and query another agent there.

Who knows, maybe Agent AA is busy shoveling horse manure? I just wish it was with the vigor of a child convinced there has to be a pony in there somewhere.

Colin Smith said...

OK, so my Internet's been down most of the day, and I've been busy, but it looks like you've all said everything I could possibly say. I should comment less more often! :)

Diane: I've often wondered how optimistic you should be about a submission if you're waiting more than a few days. I guess if the agent's behind on reading queries and subs, then you could be waiting a while. But if they love your work, I would expect them to get back almost immediately after they've finished reading.

And I have to say, I agree with everyone about how unprofessional it is to ignore nudges. We have six kids, and my wife homeschools, and does a bunch of other things to. But she is a stickler for communication. Whenever she's given responsibility to do something, it doesn't matter how much else she's doing, she'll make sure people know where they stand, and who's supposed to be where with what and when. And she's not getting paid to do this! :)

Sorry, but "too busy" for common courtesy doesn't fly too far with me.

Good question, great QOTKU answer, and great comments. :)

DLM said...

Colin, while I don't agree, I just love this: "I should comment less more often!" There are so many places on Teh Intarwebs where people really should get this particular clue. :)

Lizzie said...

DlM, Elissa, Julie: Thanks for commenting and hearing me out. I agree that the tweets would be impossible for others to identify. But it's obvious to the querier since you get the form pass email at the same time as the tweet. I'm curious if the HR tweets are obvious to the applicant the same way, like "Resume #15 city college, no Photoshop skills, weird hobbies--rock collecting, um no TY," or if it's general rules of thumb.

I've obviously been thinking way too much about this, but it's strange and sort of disturbing to have the reason why you missed the mark turned into part of an agent's platform. Let's not kid ourselves that an agent's twitter is 100% altruistic (except for Janet's of course). It makes me want to take a shower to think that my rejection was recycled into a message that promotes the agent's exclusivity and persona of being open to writers. Which gets them more queries and therefore more tweets and therefore more followers and therefore a higher ranking on whatever platform matters, I'm guessing. I wouldn't mind if I was a willing participant (the Shark and Janet's blog are consensual; thank you!) but agents sometimes decide that Monday with be #15queriesin30mins or whatever and you're at their mercy. And I don't like the expectation that the writers and the followers are supposed to be grateful that the agent is being transparent with the process when all they leave us with are riddles.

Ugh, I wish I wanted to be an engineer.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, oh your most exalted shakiness for posting on this subject. I am on "waiting for response on a full proposal" tenterhooks even as we speak. While it's only been 2 and a half weeks since our full proposal was requested after a query (the request for a full came mere hours after I sent in the query) since the response to the query was so quick, am I wrong to think there would be some response by now to the full?
Yes, we writer's are a neurotic bunch. so nervous to be perceived as high maintenance, that we become paralyzed.
I guess trying a gentle nudge would not be out of line here.
Thanks to everyone for your further questions and insights.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Bad communication is bad communication in any profession. The number one reason clients terminate their lawyers? Poor communication. This "awesome" agent has given you a gift - insight into his/her work habits. Move on and find someone who will communicate with you in a reasonable fashion. Good luck!

Colin Smith said...

Diane: Why, thank you! This place does seem to be the exception to that rule. You all are such a lovely bunch of folks. :)

Megan V said...


Like others before me, I sayeth LET THERE BE TWEETS! Let the query commentary be carried to the populous by the birdie. Let 140 characters or less fly across the inter-webs brandishing a message of "I don't represent YA. Pass."

All kidding aside, however, it's not always the case that agents tweet about queries the same time they're sending responses to the queries they are tweeting about. I see tweets as an opportunity to gain insight as to an agent's preferences (not all of them have blogs or even clear preferences on their agency website). I use it to help refine my list. And on the rare occasion when I thought a tweet might be about me, I buckled down and took another look at the material I'd been sending.

I think there a pointed difference between your example and many of the actual tweets re: queries. The former example ("Resume #15 city college, no Photoshop skills, weird hobbies--rock collecting, um no TY") attacks the person. The latter actuality is often a critique of a writer's performance as opposed to the writer themselves.(i.e.
"Q2: Environmental suspense. While I like the premise/themes, the execution doesn't really have me hooked. Pass #tenqueries")

I think a better HR example might be something along the lines of:
"R2: Listed relevant & interesting educational experience, but was formatted poorly. Unrelated hobbies are best left off the resume."

This is not to say that some parties involved don't cross the line every now and again. But overall, the tweets seem to be a great resource. I enjoy having helpful information communicated to me on a regular basis.

Unknown said...


I think it depends on how you look at it.

There aren't very many agents who do the query thing. It would be pretty easy to avoid them if it's a problem. Oddly enough, if you really follow these things, people who have queried these agents often hope their queries are part of the tweet process. One went on a rant not long ago because people were querying Agent A with genres the agent doesn't rep. That wasted three posts when the agent could have been getting to her query.

Some people welcome knowing the reason it was a pass if the agent does something more specific than "didn't follow instructions or wrong genre" etc.

I wonder how many people really object to "writing just didn't pull me in" which is about what they get in the form rejection. OR, maybe they didn't realize they shouldn't bcc several other agents at the same time and won't do it next time, which would not be in the form letter.

I counted them up. There are fourteen agents who do the query thing on twitter under various hashtags. Chances are not all of them rep what you or any specific author writes or are good matches for whatever reason. There are 1,347 agents listed on QueryTracker.

It just seems odd to me that anyone would lose sleep over this if it's a major drawback. If an agent said they can't work with people who like butter beans, I just wouldn't query them.

I have never, and I've followed this for a while, seen any agent who gives off the impression we should be grateful for their blogs, their tweets, their facebook posts.

They don't get paid for any of this. Some of us do enjoy reading agent posts. Of course, I'm ancient. I remember getting the Writer's Market, The Lit Agent Guide, the Novel and Short Story Guide, then spending days and weeks highlighting and setting up a ledger book. The only information you had was in those books unless you were fortunate enough to find a book where an author had thanked an agent.

So, yes, I love that agents are more accessible. I wouldn't wish them back in their ivory towers where we could only guess about them for love nor money.

Unknown said...

As an aside, if I ever have any money and get my painted lady with a past house, I am not hiring an interior designer. The first thing they want to do is make everything open and tear out every wall they can.

I like my agents open and my houses closed.

Lizzie said...

Julie and Megan: Thanks for commenting. Megan, that's a better comparison for the HR tweet. I'll definitely avoid the 14 agents going forward. (I'll need to get the list from you, Julie, or do more sleuthing).

I had an Emperor-has-no-clothes moment when I saw my query on one of the hashtags. Anyone who's been querying for a while has probably had a moment like that too, when all the information you were told was important totally misses the mark and you're like, why did I spend all this time following this stuff? The tweet was useless to me, and it'd be even more useless to other people. And it made me mad thinking of all the hopeful writers following these hashtags getting something that isn't anything. Does that make sense? Now if you're able to make lemonade out of hot air, that's great. Unfortunately, I don't know how.

Sam Hawke said...

I too have been waiting on AA (or my version of AA) since early November. Bizarre, as AA was a good reliable responder until then and since has appeared to go AWOL with queries. I must admit it's hard to understand why, if they are so behind, they are still open to queries, but perhaps they're scanning quickly, requesting anything that jumps out, and leaving the rest to be tackled later? I don't know. Because of the past reliability I have been cutting them more slack than other agents and hoping they'll get back on track.

As to the twitter hashtag thing - I don't see the harm. As others have said, they're always completely anonymous, so I don't see it as using business communications improperly. It's unlikely you'll recognise your own and impossible anyone else would!

I find them useful for a few reasons; they give you an indication of what sort of subs are out there and, more importantly, an indication of what agents you're interested in are thinking about those subs. If an agent you're querying posts something like, 'can't sell ghosts right now', that's useful as hell if you're writing a ghost book. Or if it's something like 'another MC without a family. I'd love to see a living functional family for once' and you're writing something with strong family bonds, well, that's even better. And sometimes if you see a bunch in a row of people querying the wrong genre, not following guidelines etc, you can have a momentary buzz thinking oh well if nothing else, I am professional and I follow the guidelines!

DLM said...

Sam Hawke, closing to queries is a huge job, Janet has said. You have to go to every one of those agent sites and set the status, put out the word, update your own site - a great deal of administrative rigamarole!

Bill N., this is the part where that thick skin we need to grow comes in. That Tweet may not have seemed useful to you, and clearly it hurt, but you're in your own perspective and may not see it objectively. I will say that the idea of an agent pointlessly pillorying queriers just for the sheer meanness of it doesn't make sense to me.

As Janet points out, we are not beggars at the banquet, and most agents know that perhaps better than we do all the time. I've met and read and heard of and researched hundreds by now, and only once came across an agent I found honestly distasteful (met in person), and even that person wasn't insulting nor pointlessly abusive. They just thought they were being "challenging" and it didn't work well. No harm/no foul, and that rejection was a positively happy experience when it came.

You may not be objectively judging how useful that Tweet was, and why would you be objective? It stung, and rejection FEELS personal, almost even more so when it's pared down to 140 characters with no room for a loving letdown. But consider this - what reason would a stranger have to personally insult you, to make themselves look awful? It may not be worth it for you, but a lurk on some of those hashtags might blunt the pain and could help to put it in perspective.

Unknown said...

Well, I bit the bullet and withdrew it from Agent AA. After reading comments on QueryTracker, I decided I would decline even if the agent requested.

'Tis a shame. I shall survive.

Anonymous said...

OP here. It's been interesting and entertaining as always reading through these comments! Just to clear up some assumptions that a small few have made:

1) I'm not fretting over whether or not to nudge on just a query. This agent requested 3 chapters from me, then went silent (apart from a tweet to tell me I hadn't been forgotten, 3 weeks ago). My partial was requested on 12th December.

2) I've been around fellow queriers and been part of the process long enough to be confident that I don't want to work with an agent whose communications in general are poor. I try to keep my own communications as professional as possible -- I never want to come across as pushy or demanding. This is a business, after all (and I have absolutely no hard feelings toward AA or any agent who doesn't respond. That's how life goes sometimes!). But my reason for seeking Ms. Reid's advice was based on a combination of "where's the line between pushy and pushover?" and "Is this normal and I need to just chill?" Her answer was perfectly clear, and I'm grateful. I'd be a bit TOO chill if I assumed this was proper protocol, and accepted an offer from an agent with consistently slack communication (across the boards, not just with me). I wanted confirmation that this indeed *was* poor.

I don't tend to nudge on regular queries unless I feel, based on Query Tracker stats and other sources, that my query went astray. I don't see anything wrong with it, if the agency's website encourages nudging after so long. If it's an agent I'm particularly keen on, I probably will, after a suitable timeframe. But when something is requested of me and I get crickets (which, according to Query Tracker these days, this is happening on partials and FULLS much more frequently), I wanted advice on whether this is something I should be surprised about or not.

The funny thing is, I think if I mentioned this agency and agent by name, there'd be a good deal of backlash ;) "What! You can't tell me you'd withdraw from THAT agent/agency! Keep waiting! Don't be pushy!" etc. I may be wrong, but I get that feeling... But of course, I'm not going to ;)

@Julie Weathers -- I have a sneaking suspicion we're talking about the same agent!

@alaskaravenclaw and others who've suggested moving on -- I think you may be right. I've done more recent research, and while I still think that this agency is awesome, I'm beginning to think that AA may be awesome, but not for me. Maybe if I was what he/she was seeking, I'd have heard by now. So I'm chalking this up to not a good fit for EITHER of us, and withdrawing to try another agent. I have 15 fulls and partials out right now, not including AA, so I think I might have better luck elsewhere.

Thanks all for your input, and thank you again to Ms. Reid for your thoughts!

DLM said...

dreamfaller78, the great thing here is, if you're getting attention from a hitter so heavy people might say you should wait and hope, you're likely to get it from other great agents. So way to go!

As to the points about nudging at the query stage, I think a lot of us start to respond to each other in the comments here. I know my own remarks like that had less to do with your specifics than the ongoing conversation - my apologies! :)

You clearly have a handle on this, and a product good enough to get attention. Keep us posted!

Lizzie said...

Dreamfaller: I applaud your even-keeled approach.

DLM: Those are really good points. I don't think my perspective will change, but I really appreciate you and the other commenters gratifying my need to discuss it.

Anonymous said...

I should note that the tweet came after I submitted my question to Janet :)

@DLM, thanks for the encouragement. Without forums like this, I think I'd go bananas, not knowing how others handle similar situations. I really appreciated reading what everyone had to say!

Liz Penney said...

Thank you for this!! I am now repped but had many fulls go unanswered - the trend seems to be growing. They didn't even respond after nudges with offer of rep. I've withdrawn fulls after a year, also.

On the flip side, I've had exp., well known "big" agents take time to consider and respond in a short window. So kudos to them.