QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Constitutes Publication and How Do I Know My Query's Been Read?

Courtesy of adamci
Two questions from the mailbag:

·         "How do you really know your email queries are getting looked at? And at what point do you say, okay, they are not interested? I can handle rejection, I even have patience. But, to just be left hanging, not even knowing if you are being looked at, is pretty unfair. I am wondering if maybe I should just snail mail to the agents who still accept queries that way. Any answer, advice?" 
      This is something, I think, that most queriers worry about. I know I do. How does a querier know that their query is being read? Well, the only way to be 100% sure that your query is read is to get either a rejection or a request. But what about those queries you've sent weeks or months ago and haven't heard back one way or the other? Those are the queries that haunt the edges of the querier's conscious mind--especially given that many agents are turning to no response=not interested. Did it end up getting eaten by the spam filter or get lost in cyberspace or was the agent really not interested? I don't know that there's really a way to know for sure, but there are some things you can do to increase the chances of your equery finding its way to the agent's inbox.

  • Put query in the subject line: Query: BOOK OF AWESOMENESS (This is a given, but make sure you spell query correctly.)
  • Do not send an attachment unless directed by the agent. If it makes it past the spam filter, most agents will delete it unread.
  • Make sure your query is in the language of the agent you're sending it to and that you've properly addressed them.
  • Follow the directions. And then double check just in case. When querying, it's very important to make sure you research the agent to make sure you've formatted everything correctly and sent everything they want to see at first.
Agent Jennifer Jackson blogs regularly about query mishaps she's dealt with--usually every week or two. You can find her blog here.

"If you publish your manuscript as an ebook and have friends/relatives buy copies online can you still query the book as unpublished?"

Please feel free to chime in here (and everywhere else), but I would have to say that if you've set up your manuscript as an ebook and have made sales on it, then no, you can't query this book as unpublished. It doesn't matter whether the book has made one sale or one thousand. For all intents and purposes, it's been published. I would definitely recommend being up front with the agent in the query, because agents who are seriously considering offering representation or requesting more material are going to do their research on you. And they will most likely find it. Better to be honest and upfront about it at the outset. It will save you many headaches later on.


Jil said...

What if an agent says she is closed for a certain month , you send a query two weeks before that date and get an automated reply that the agent has left on vacation two weeks early? I don't know if my query was looked at or dumped.Puzzlement.

Carolyn Kaufman | @CMKaufman said...

Hi Jil -- I'd probably wait a couple of months after the agent gets back, and then if you don't hear anything, re-send as if you had never sent it before.

Danyelle L. said...

*dittos Carolyn* O:)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice Danyelle. And if you get no response, I agree with Carolyn's advice that it might not hurt to resubmit it months later. It could be that you just got the agent on a bad day.