“Don’t call us . . .”

Sugarloaf ear worm alert.

I got your name from a friend of a friend
Who said he used to work with you
Remember the all night creature from stereo ninety two
Yeah I said could you relate to our quarter track tape
You know the band performs in the nude
He said uh huh don’t call us child we’ll call you . . .

Listen kid you paid for the call
You ain’t bad but I’ve heard it all before
Don’t call us, we’ll call you . . .

Happy background music for cross-checking the list of agents I’ve queried for WHEN LIBBY. It’s been five weeks now since I sent my first batch of queries, so I’ve been going back to the websites of agencies that haven’t answered to see what they estimate as their response times.

I was surprised, in reading the fine print, how many state they don’t respond to e-queries at all unless they are interested in seeing more. About a third of the agencies I’ve e-queried have that policy.

I’ve decided that for those agencies, three weeks of silence means a definite “no.” Since I’m trying to send out new queries at the same rate that I get back “no’s,” this helps ensure that I always have about 20 active queries in the queue (including the ones that have resulted in requests for partials or fulls — up to five of those, now . . .)

Something else I’ve noticed, too. “No answer means ‘no thanks'” is apparently acceptable for email, but it raises eyebrows when applied to snail mail queries, as per this note on Preditors & Editors referencing one of the agencies listed there:

A writer reports they “can no longer guarantee to respond to unsolicited queries. Include a SASE only if you have no phone or email address at which you may be contacted if we should wish to see more of your material.” P&E finds this disturbing.

Different standards for different media?

The funny thing is, it probably takes more time & effort to stuff a form rejection into an envelope & mail it than to paste a form rejection into an email and hit “send.”

Heck, you wouldn’t even need to cut & paste. Just have a default sig line that is actually a form reject note:

Dear author. Thank you for your query, but I regret to say I feel no stir of enthusiasm for your project, and therefore if I represented you your career would likely plunge over the nearest cliff of doom. And neither of us wants that, do we. Fortunately this note liberates you from that possibility. Best of luck as you forge ahead, still alone. Signed, top-notch agent.

Just hit “reply,” the email is populated with your sig line/reject, and you’re done.

Of course, if you forget to choose a different sig line when requesting partials, it could be a bit embarassing :-)

[tags] writing, literary agents, query letters [/tags]

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One Response to “Don’t call us . . .”

  1. Oh, no. Don’t get me started.

    First, why should you have to look in the fine print? Why don’t they say up front on their internet submissions page that “No response in XX days means no interest?” I’d be fine with that.

    Many of them will include scores of dos and don’ts listing what they do and do not want in a query, but if you want to MAKE them tell you “No thanks” to your “face” you’ve got to invest in a stamp and an envelope, when it would in fact be faster and cheaper to do what you suggest in your post.

    Then there’s the universal terror of ATTACHMENTS(!) (shudder), when any good antivirus software will protect them. And if I really wanted to send them a virus I could do it in the body of the email just as easily. DUH!

    Sorry! Sorry. I’ll go take a pill and lie down.

    (Grrrr.)

    John

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