Sunday, May 09, 2010

Prequeries & Followups

Twitter Q: If a query is rejected, are follow up questions such as "Do you know of agents who would be interested?" appropriate?
 The short answer: Nope.

But blogs are for long answers, aren't they? And this actually reminds me of a couple of trends that are threatening to drive me batty.*

Prequeries: "This is my project. May I query you, and if so, what should I do?"

This is maddening and it happens at least five times a day. That is at least five emails that I shouldn't be getting. Look, we are open for submissions. The submission directions are right there, on the website, big as life. If we didn't want to get your queries, why would we bother having submission guidelines? How did you get the email address to send this to if you didn't LOOK at the submission guidelines or website? What did you think that they meant?  AHHH!

OK, taking a deep breath. The point I am making is, DON'T PRE-QUERY. If you want to query, just follow the directions and do it already. The worst that can happen is, we say No. So what? You never heard the word No before?  Toughen up, buttercup.

Followup #1 - The Fawner: "Thank you so much for your rejection, it means so much to me that you even took the time to look at my poor little query, I am as a worm unto you O Great One"

Look, it is no big deal. You asked "would you like to rep this?" I said "No thank you." The loop is closed now. If you are a person who absolutely must say thank you, a quick "Thanks for the look" is OK (not needed, but OK.)  And if I have given you notes or specific feedback, a "Thanks so much for the feedback" is totally appropriate.

A weirdly fawning thank you to a form rejection, though, is never called for. It isn't going to make me remember you as That Nice Polite Guy, it is going to make me remember you as a bit of an oddball, at best.

Followup #2 - Mr. Grumble: "I did do my research and follow all the directions to the letter, and yet you say it is "not right for you". Hm. Well, you are a hypocrite. I happen to know you represent lots of YA books, so... any clue as to what agent it might be right for, then, if you're so smart?"

Hey, whoa there, fella! No need for the attitude. I know that the original asker of the question would never be so rude about it, but followup requests for referrals, whether posed nicely like the original asker, or rudely like Mr. Grumble, boil down to the same thing.

* If I loved your submission, I'd want your submission. I don't.

* If I hated your submission, I am not going to give you a list of my friends to inflict it on.

* If (much more likely) I felt lukewarm or 'meh' or 'just ok' or 'fine' about your submission, I've already stopped thinking about it and have moved on with my life now.  I don't want to do research for you, I don't want to re-read it and scour my brain about who I know might like it, that is not my job.  Again, the loop is closed. You asked, I answered, the end.

Hand to G-d, if your book is not for me but I know of an agent off the top of my head who I KNOW would love it, I will definitely definitely tell you, and even offer to pass it on myself or say you can use me as a reference. I promise.  I have no reason to keep this information from you. I want you all to succeed. Really!

* Though items similar to these appear in my inbox many times every day, these examples are fabricated by me and not quotes from actual authors.


  1. Love love LOVE this post! Everything about it!

    Though I don't deal with queries I do deal with PR pitches and grumblers are the WORST.

  2. Aw! You say it so nicely. :)

  3. I love that you used one of the Little Men in your post.

    The post contents are already known to me, but I had to comment on the image. I grew up with those books and wrote possibly my one and only fan fic starring one of them when I was 7 or so.

  4. A query, synopsis, and manuscript are difficult enough to write. Who wants to craft a prequery?

  5. Thingy4:07 AM

    Wait, do people like Mr Grumble really exist? What a shame you can't return emails with a short series of strong electrical impulses attached... oh wait... that's probably a bit wrong. :/

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Margaret: Ha! Mr. Men & Little Miss Fanfic is AWESOME. I loved those books too - if only I had been clever enough to think of writing my own.

  8. Love the one about not referring crappy queries to your agent friends! LOL. But what about those agents that are foes/arch enemies/stealing all the top clients? You should bombard them with crappy queries. Your reply could be, "I'm not the agent for you, but I really think X would like your work. Query them promptly and make sure you hit send twice just to make sure it went through." :)

  9. Talking to writers is (sometimes) like talking to children. "If I've told you once, I've told you a million times--don't pre-query! Don't send nasty emails! Don't expect me to send this on to other agents!" Like the teacher's pet, I'm waving my hand and saying, "Ooh, ooh, I'm listening. Pick me!"


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