Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Query Etiquette

I find myself somewhat shocked by the lack of professionalism in queries lately. I mean, it's always existed, but recently it seems to be getting worse and worse.

I feel that it has to do with either A) writers are becoming increasingly frustrated with rejections or B) writers are just getting plain lazy.

I'm not writing this to point fingers and say everyone does it, because that's certainly not the case. But a response to a form rejection last night was the icing on the cake for me, and I feel that a blog about Query Etiquette as opposed to "how to write a query" would be beneficial....or just plain amusing so you can see what people actually do and think is acceptable.

In a previous job, I was trained to read and critique resumes and cover letters for both students and professionals. Everyone compares queries with cover letters, and I think that's going to be the best way to illustrate the points I'm going to make.

How it's going to work is that I will write a sentence in bold that has actually appeared in a query before (all genres/specifics have been modified to protect the original author). I will then write how ridiculous it would sound if you tried the same thing in a cover letter and explain why you shouldn't write it.

To keep it uniform, I'm going to pretend the cover letter is for a job with Microsoft's XBox team (::prays that everyone knows what Xbox is::).

  • "I've finally written a novel." Would you say "I've finally decided to sit down and apply for a job" in a cover letter? Let's hope not. We all understand that writers have other jobs that take away from their writing time, but there's absolutely no need to announce the fact you've "finally" taken the time to sit down and write. My immediate reaction is either A) you're too busy or B) it was a spur-of-the-moment decision - either way, that's something I don't need to know in a query.
  • "Dear Sir" A lot of people actually don't know that it's inappropriate to write a cover letter to "dear sir." You should write it "Dear Human Resources," "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear ____" if there was a contact person in the ad. However, with agencies, the beauty is that you should already know the name of the agent to whom you want to query! So use it. Don't mass e-mail agents and tack on a "Dear Sir." I take the time to write your name in both form rejections and partial/full requests, so please take the time to write my name. It's just polite and shows me you meant to query me instead of just throwing your query into an abyss and hoping it latches on to something.
  • "I'm writing to pitch my picture book." (note: I don't rep picture books). To me, this is like writing to Microsoft and saying, "I feel I would be a strong candidate for your position with Xbox because I love playing Nintendo games." (note: Nintendo and Xbox? Two TOTALLY separate entities.) Know which agents represent what before querying. It's not a matter of "oh we won't find anything good in that genre." It's simply we're either A) not interested in that genre; B) not familiar enough with the market to represent it; or C) have too many clients in that genre already.
  • "With so many other poorly written paranormal books, I thought I'd finally sit down and write one." Would you say, "There are so many other video game companies out there that just suck, so I figured I'd apply for the position with Microsoft." While it's wonderful to hear that you feel highly of a certain project you're working on, it's completely unnecessary to bash the competition. Your query, just as your cover letter, should focus on what you can offer. In the case of a query, it's your manuscript. In a cover letter, your skills. Putting down the competition really doesn't add anything to your cause.
  • "My number is 555-555-5555." Would you send a cover letter to a prospective employer with just your street address? I get so many queries - especially the USPS ones - with no e-mail, no address, no self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). It's like writers think that if they include just a phone number, this will make me call them. Nope. I don't have time to call individual authors unless I want to offer them representation, and they will be left wondering if I ever even read their query.
  • Not following guidelines. I've work shopped with enough HR employees to know that *most* companies will completely disregard a job application if you leave out information they want - especially when it comes to "expected salary." Same with queries - if an agent's submission guidelines states to include sample pages pasted in the e-mail and you decide to attach the entire MS, chances are you'll either get a reject or just be deleted.
  • You send a query to FirstName@agency.com instead of queries@agency.com. If the Microsoft job application states to apply via a form on their web site only, would you bypass that and go straight to Bill Gates? Probably not without really pissing someone off and potentially having your e-mail black listed. If an agency's web site gives yo you a specific e-mail to use, use it. In our case, our web site states to "Use the form at the bottom of the agent's page OR send via USPS," and you decide to send it straight to my e-mail unless otherwise told, it shows that you completely disregarded the instructions which probably means your ability to follow directions once taken on is slim to none. An employer needs someone who can follow clear and concise directions, just as an agent would like a client who can follow directions when needed.
  • "In the event you feel this project is not a good fit for your agency, could you please suggest someone who would be interested?" Would you put "In the event you feel I'm not right for your company, could you please suggest some other places to which I can apply?" I really hope not. If we feel it's a good fit for someone else, we will tell you. I do this, as do other agents. Because in the long run, if it looks like a good project that isn't for us and we think of someone who will like it, we'll tell you. Yes, technically agencies are competing against each other, but this is also a very tight group of professionals, most of whom have known each other for 10, 20, even 30 years. They know each other's tastes.
  • "Attached you'll find, for your convenience, a pre-printed reply form." "Below is a pre-printed slip in the event you decide to not hire me." Ok. Seriously? Would you put that in a cover letter? You include an SASE to help us out to respond to you, but to actually print out your own rejection letter? It's unnecessary and shows little faith on your part.
  • (to a form rejection) "Really? Ok. That's the frustration which you want to throw to me: you are a band of mother F-ers so F you. You have my middle finger as a response you @ss. Your agency's response is idiotic and inappropriate. Best unregards." Take a moment with this one. Allow it to just sink in. Yes, this is an actual reply I received to a form rejection. Except I cut the obscenities so I'm not blocked on any search engines. Our form rejection? Nothing bad with it. Clearly he/she is just upset they were rejected. First of all, most employers won't even tell you if they chose not to offer you an interview - they'll just toss your cover letter/resume and move on. So on form rejections, don't get mad. At least we're letting you know we've chosen to pass rather than letting you sit there wondering. Secondly, that type of reply is just going to get your e-mail blocked. And then I'm going to talk to my agent friends about your rude nature so that they're sure to be on alert. This gets nothing accomplished. If you were to send this to an employer who said "sorry the position has been filled," I guarantee there would be zero chance of you ever working there again. Ever.

Agents know that many writers work separate jobs. We don't expect you (actually, we really do NOT encourage you) to quit your day job to just focus on writing. However, it's a business, and this is our career and could potentially be yours as well. So we do expect authors to treat the process in the most professional way possible.

If you have one to contribute, shoot me a comment and I'll add it to the list.

Thoughts?

~K

67 comments:

Also, that response to the form rejection is(perhaps not unsurprisingly)horribly written as well as hugely detrimental to their career. Thanks for the post!

To think that someone would reply to any thing business related with a bunch of curses just blows my mind. I haven't gotten to the querying part yet, but I've sent out enough resumes & cover letters to know what rejection is like and even after two interviews and no contact when they chose someone else over me, I would never respond like that.

As an educator, I sadly see this type of attitude from kids today. Many think they don't have to work for things and then throw a tantrum when it doesn't go their way. They just don't seem have good work ethics. I hope it changes for the better, but I'm not holding my breath.

MBee, I saw that a lot when I was teaching. Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain this was a person in their late 30s, early 40s....so I can't use the "kid" excuse w/ him/her. But I completely understand what you're talking about.

I thought your form rejection reply was so polite and eloquent that I had to tape my fingers together from replying with a, "Thank you."

This is probably the reason some agencies are switching to the, "We'll respond if we're interested." (I hate that by the way, but I understand it.)

Another thing that I appreciated with your rejection is it was addressed to me with my name after, "Dear." I felt respected with that as I took the time to address my own letter to a specific person too.

Seriously, posts like these make my skin crawl. These idiots with their constant rule breaking and ridiculous mistakes give people like me and many other queriers a bad name. I'm very sorry that some people just don't get it. I'm also thankful that you don't hold it against the people that do.

Thank you. There are people out there that ARE listening and those people will someday find these idiots for you...and we will do unspeakable things to them. :)

I feel your pain and agree totally 110%. I will never forget when someone called me a hick and told me to learn how to do my job...and this was after I actually took the time to write a personal rejection, giving him some advice to make his query process hopefully a little more successful. I rarely do that, with the numerous emails/queries I receive daily.

@redsofaliterary agreed...i got one a few months back telling me I should have graduated high school, then maybe I'd be smarter (?). I just shrug, delete and keep on going. This one was blog worthy, imho.

LOL! This was great.

What I love about "I've finally written a novel." Is that it implies you've been waiting on pins and needles for it. Like, "OMG! I really hope _________ writes a novel soon because I know it will be SO AWESOME!" And that now they are gifting you with your dream come true by offering you the chance to read it.

Too funny!

Also? Writers should know that agents talk to each other. And if we get a response like the one above, we are likely to share it with agent colleagues by way of a warning to them to look out for a potential crazy person. By shooting yourself in the foot professionally at one agency, you may have shot yourself in the foot at dozens.

OMG, I am so amazed by the depth of the lack of common sense that some people have. Ok, maybe not, im also an RN on a psych unit and some of those have the flavor of mental disturbia

i need to figure out if i can add a "like" button feature to comments.... :)

Ugh. That makes it so much worse. Are these people social misfits or hermits? Those are my only somewhat acceptable reasons for an adult to respond that way.

As an HR professional and a writer, this had me cracking up.

In regards to the rejection response, I'd like to offer two responses I got to form rejections sent the same day. It's on our blog here: http://crossedgenres.com/blog/responding-to-rejections-a-comparison/

Wow! Thanks for the insight into what an agent has to put up with. "Best unregards"! Wouldn't it be "disregards"? Just cements it really...

I can't think of a more inappropriate response to rejection--be it professional or personal--than a stream of vitriolic language. Stubbornness--that ability to be knocked down and still get up again--seems like it might be a great asset for a young writer, but not belligerence.

This is a great post. I've received about 12+ official rejections for my first novel, and though most of them were definitely form letters there were was one with things like 'sounds interesting, not for me, don't give up!' scrawled in the margin. That someone took the time from their busy schedule to give a little encouragement really kept me going. It's easy to forget there's a person on the other side of the querying process, and blogs like this are a great reminder.

Not to let individuals off the hook, but our dominant culture no longer nourishes the ethics of hard work, grace under pressure, and pausing to reflect before making a move.

It's the worst side of the American dream: me first, NOW.

Consider action adventures, in which the (anti-)hero stands up for 'what's mine!'
Blaming others is a national pastime. We could call it testosterone poisoning, but it's not limited to dudes.

What I find frustrating as a writer is that although I'm asked to scale the heights of professionalism and work long and hard to catch the eye of the agents and publishers I query, MOST do no respond with the same level of attention. You want me to use your name in the greeting and know something about the clients you already represent (which is perfectly fair), but I've received responses that were nothing more than the word "NO" scrawled at the top of my cover letter and returned to me.

I have certainly received many nicely-written rejections and my share of acceptances, so I know that my cover letters are on target, but it's discouraging to see how many agents and publishers are like those unscrupulous employers who think that their applicants should be held to a higher standard than themselves.

It's your job to read query letters, and a cool job, at that. Literary agents whining about poorly written queries is as entertaining as rock stars bemoaning their rock and roll lifestyles. Tell your woes to someone who scrubs toilets or turns over old people for a living.

Professionalism goes both ways. Time and effort in writing query letters may be falling out of fashion, like publishing untested authors.

Don't worry. Eventually, people will stop bothering to send their work out to you at all, and then you can relax. You can kick back, pry open a can of beans and warm them over a rusty barrel of burning manuscripts.

Thanks for posting this blog! Thankfully, I haven't fallen into these traps while writing queries, but I had to do a lot of research on blogs like yours before starting! I hope you'll post more about queries in the future.

Kathleen, this is such good advice, and not just for queriers but for anyone needing a reminder that professionalism is key when trying to sell yourself in a competitive industry. (And it seems like all industries are competitive these days!).

It's also quite obvious the people writing these queries are not taking their audience into account. I would guess their work would reflect that.

Wow, the cursing really got to me. As you pointed out, that's totally unprofessional, and writing *is* a business. But more than that, using that kind of language is frankly threatening. Gave me the shivers.

That response to your form rejection is mindblowing (in a bad way, obviously).
And that aside, thanks for taking the time out of your day to educate on what a query should and should not do!

This is the best description of a Query Letter I have read. Comparing it to a cover letter for job clicked all the aspects in my mind.

I can't believe how can people just either ignore or are lazy not following instructions for something so important as attracting an agent. Might as well not bother sending anything than sending stuff that's only going to destroy their chances.

Oh wow.

I am appalled at the reply to your form rejection. Did that person forget their manners or what? I know it's frustrating to get rejected--I have been more times than I care to count--but sending a reply like that? How unprofessional.

Thanks for posting this! I always love to see the mistakes that other people are making (that makes me sound so evil...but really I think it's so everyone can learn, myself included).

I think the comparison of query letter to cover letter is perfect. Anyone who thinks that you can get away with not having a completely professional query is delusional. I also love that you point out that many agents at least take the time to get back to everyone (even if it is simply a form rejection), while in a job hunt you are only going to hear back if someone is interested in an interview. The fact is, at the initial point of contact, it's the writer trying to impress the agent, and they should go out of their way to do so. Once it's time to offer representation, the tables turn, and the agent can (and will) try to impress an author they want to add to their client list. The same way it works in HR. All of this seems perfectly logical to me.

Great advice, Kathleen.

And it just echos everything I've heard from agents and editors and authors. Beyond writing the very best novel you can, the best thing you can do to further your writing career is simply be professional.

Is it bad that posts like this make me feel better about myself?

I'm honestly shocked that anyone, no matter what the situation, would actually write such a thing to a stranger. How frustrating for you.

On the plus side - obviously you made the right decision the first go round!

This was a great blog. Wow. I was referred to you by another agent when I queried you but was rejected. Even though you passed I thought it was nice you replied at all. In the reply you even used my name and the title of my manuscript. It showed you took time (which I know you don't have a lot of). A lot of agents don't reply at all. I thought it was cool. Rejection does hurt BUT that is no reason to be rude and cruel. It is beyond wrong that someone assaulted you that way. I know being an agent can be a thankless job but thank you for doing it. It is kind of you to shovel your way through the slush pile to help people. Thank you.

Vivica -

Actually, no, it's NOT our jobs to read queries. We do it in our spare time. Our job is to represent our clients, many of whom don't come through queries at all. And most of us don't get paid at all unless we sell a manuscript. We work second jobs to pay the rent for the first 5-7 years. Equating agenting to "living a rock n' roll lifestyle" is as offensive as it is ignorant of how the actual publishing industry works.

Best.

Colleen

This does not surprise me at all, unfortunately. I used to recruit for a large company, and as such, I'd often attend career fairs representing my company. I responded to every single resume I received, even if it was a personally addressed form rejection. A few of the people whose resumes I rejected, actually would come up to me at the career fair and lash out at me! It's stunning how unprofessional and ignorant people are, not to mention shortsighted. The world is small and people talk! It's crazy that people have to be schooled on common courtesy and respect.

I hate to say this, but it's true - for all the people who refuse to follow the rules and make mistakes and send horrible follow up letters - it's better for those of us who do all the right things! It makes us look better!

(I think I have seen at least half of these in job applications)


Dear Sir (sir@companyname.com)
CC: miss@othercompany.com; guy@someplace.com
Sent: 4:58 PM

I've never had a real job before and I think most jobs suck, but I'm out of money so I thought maybe you could employ me. I know you aren't hiring an X right now, but you are hiring a Y so I figured I'd email you anyway. After all, I've seen the other Y's and those guys look like idiots so I figured you'd like to pay me to work with them.

Your Y job pays $15/hour but I'm not getting out of bed for less than $400/hour. I will be starting next Monday, but then I'm talking 3 weeks off to go to Mexico with my buddy who sells illegal cigarettes down there. If you don't call me at 555-5555 to confirm before 5 PM today, then you are a BLEEPING BLEEP and so is your BLEEP.

Some Guy

Nice post... you really seem to care about the unagented writer. That's so cool.

Now... if Sir Paul McCartney were an agent, would 'Dear Sir' work in that case?

We live in a much angrier world today. It almost seems risky business to reject or correct anyone. I can't help but wonder how we reached this point.

Thanks for the tips on "Dear Sir" vs Dear Hiring Manager. My daughter and I are sending out her resume and believe me, it has been a real challenge. Sometimes it's impossible to find anything to put on the cover letter. I was taught to put Dear Sir but that was in the old days when we pounded out resumes on a typewriter and learned to center everything perfectly.

Thanks for sharing so much with us.

*Facepalm* Seriously? With All of the information out there for aspiring authors, it never fails to amaze me how ignorant some people can be and how little they care about following protocol. I can only imagine what it must be like to read through those queries.

I gotta tell ya, rejections from the publishing industry are rainbows and butterflies compared to the acting biz! I'm a new writer, and an old actor, and thus far I've been surprised to hear from literary agents at all, let alone what have been some really kind rejections. Maybe all writers should have to audition. That certainly makes for a thick skin!

What a great post, Kathleen!

I follow you and quite a few other agents on Twitter so I know you ladies & gents work hard and live for your clients. And you freely offer your knowledge to the rest of us. That is something to be appreciated and respected.

After working in customer service for many years, I know how people can be when they don't get what they want. It's sad and pathetic :o(

Kudos to you and all the fabulous agents out there! Keep up the good work! :o)

LOL, great post. In regards to the post about comparing the querier's awesome paranormal to all the crap on the shelves, I think it would be more like saying:

Dear Microsoft,

The game system you produce - gawd, not to mention the games - are such garbage that I have decided to lower myself to working for your company so that I elevate your poor-a$$ product to the quality only I can possibly produce. I await your million-dollar a year offer and remain your loyal servant, should you get your heads out of your butts and utilize my awe-inspiring services.

Joe Jacka$$

I appreciate the glimpses into the other side of things. Thank you for the post! And what a horrible response. The writer sounds...unstable.

You know, the more I read about what agents go through, I have to say that everyone in your position have to have some grace and restraint. I'd be so tempted to send off some smart-aleck reply, it's probably a good thing I'm not an agent!

On the other hand, no matter how it stung to receive a rejection, I have never replied to a rejection. If they say no, they say no. My arguing with them (or, more likely, thanking them for their time which I already do in my query) won't change anything. If they're not open to my project now, I don't want to burn a bridge in case I have another project later on that I may want to submit.

Makes me wonder if those that reply and curse at an agent due to a rejection have a mental illness... I can't imagine a stable person replying in that manner.

Wow. And the sad thing about the rejection response is it just confirms that this person is NOT the sort of writer you'd ever want to work with anyway.

I was actually passed over twice by my wonderful agent before I finally sent her a book she loved. This lead to my first NY sale. So never ever burn bridges with anyone. You never know where the next project, or the next, will lead! Cheryl

Don't think I saw mention of a classic: mentioning your "fiction novel," all novels being fiction.

You might have a completely different post on what not to DO; e.g., someone sent my sister's agent flowers with a cryptic note.

**Palm/Face** Someone really replied with that? I'm dumbfounded. Just absolutely amazed. If there is an "agent blacklist" that person needs to be on it. I just burnt my son's lunch reading this over and over again. WOW.

I'm always interested in posts about query etiquette. I'll be sending out queries next month, so I like to make sure I know the big mistakes to avoid. But I'm always shocked at the things people point out from bad queries. Really? I mean, someone actually thought that was okay? :)

I thought your agency just used online forms for querying--do those forms, then require a certain etiquette, or are you talking about e-mailed/snail mailed queries?

That can of beans comment cracks me up.

Writers whining about literary agents whining about poorly written queries is as entertaining as people hearing you've written a novel and asking why you aren't rolling in money yet. In other words: ignorance can be amusing.

Great post, Kathleen!

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wow. Just... wow. When did querying turn into an American Idol audition? Anyone else hear some tone-deaf hopeful telling off Simon Cowell in that form-rejection reply?

So good to see someone else address this. I am getting so tired of "writer entitlement."

Lori Perkins
Author, Agent, Editor

Loved - LURVED - this entry. I'm sure you've all seen actual "author blogs" dedicated to responding to agent rejections? It's like the car crash that keeps going. Just when you think people couldn't get any more bitter/r-tarded, they showcase their verbal stylings yet again.

You know what would be brilliant? If you could mock-up some kind of form letter to respond to that profanity-laced reaction. Can't you see it?

Dear Angry Writer -
We at Agency find your expletives unsatisfying and rather cliche. Unfortunately we are unaffected by your cursing and have chosen not to change our opinion of your offered manuscript. Good luck having anyone take you seriously elsewhere.
Sincerely (but not really) - Agent

Gee and I was worried about wasting someone's time when I sent out 2 Query letters at the same time. My responce would be WWYMS (What Would Your Momma Say)

Dude, I also have to lolz at the 'can of beans' comment. They really should change the phrase to "A writer scorned..."

Also, excellent post. Understanding how querying really works can make or break a writer's future career, no matter how much they decide they don't want to follow the rules.

Another thing that kind of boggles my mind is when a writer will actually challenge an agent's motivations as to why they rejected a certain piece. It's like they are under the delusion that agents are all a part of some "Let's Trick Writers Into Thinking We Like Reading When Really We Live To Destroy Lives" clan.

To add a second thought,

How DARE YOU TRY TO TEACH THE PROPER WAYS OF QUERYING. STOP YOUR WHINING!

Kortizzle my dear, here is an online high five. :)

Thank you for this post.
I'm currently at the exciting part of writing, the plotting out my story and working out how to get my characters from point A to point B, and I know that the stage that will really, truly challenge me is sending out queries, because I don't like to impose on anyone.
I now feel more confident in that department, because at least I'm not rude or mad. There's hope for me yet!

Writers need to understand a rejection is not about them; it is about their work. It doesn't mean "I don't like you." It may even be they do like you, but are already hooked up and not looking right now, thank you very much. I know it feels like it is all about you, but it really isn't.

I file away form rejections under the heading, "Not for them right now for whatever reason. Moving on." I respond to personalized rejections with a polite, "Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it," even if I think their comments are wrong. The fact that they even bothered to respond makes it worthwhile for me to hear what they had to say.

Twice, now, I've gotten helpful rejections from an agent, and when I thanked them for their time, they seemed genuinely surprised and encouraged me to submit something else. So professionalism pays off.

And agents do talk amongst themselves, just like writers do, so professionalism is the way to go on both sides.

Actually I hope all of these people continue to be idiots. It'll help me to stand out in a crowd. Do agents talk to each other about writers who take rejection in stride? For instance maybe you tell another agent, "Wow, I've rejected ten different queries (for different books) from this guy and he's never had a meltdown. He's the type of writer that seems easy to work with."

Kathleen--Wonderful post. I linked this post to my post today. I'm pleased to say I haven't committed any of these offenses. Lack of studying the industry would be my guess for most of them, other than the bad language and unless you are George Carlin, I don't think you can get away with that.

Oh dear....

Kathleen, you may or may not know that I hope to be an agent one day. These stories scare the shiz outta me sometimes. LOL

Even when I first started learning about the industry and the query process (I'm a graduate of the Miss Snark School of Snarkery), I was shocked to learn people acted like this. It seems like common sense to me.

However, I do think saying "With so many other poorly written paranormal books, I thought I'd finally sit down and write one." is more like saying "Since so many of your Xbox games have sucked recently, I thought you might benefit from my help." - because, more than likely, the agent has represented or is representing some of those so-called "poorly written paranormal books."

Kathleen, I appreciate your candor and tactful way of explaining this really counter-productive response this writer has given you. I had one very negative rejection from an agent regarding a book proposal. I was told "in this economic atmosphere only an idiot would submit a book proposal." I did answer back with "I'm sorry if I offended you. However the information I received about you and your agency on your website is that book proposals were also considered. If that is not the case, then perhaps you should be focusing your comments elsewhere." I admit, this was highly inapropriate on both our parts. However, it is very difficult for someone who has managed to publish 9 books by respectable publishing houses simply by them sending me an email requesting ideas for a series they want me to be involved in. I've only had to sell one manuscript. So I depend on the facts that I glean from websites and publications that are "in the know." Occasionally, agents are rude and unprofessional. More often writers are ignorant and inappropriate, I think more often due to the greater numbers of writers. Having said that, I love the way you compared the query to a cover letter... Very, Very well done. Thank you.

@Cynthia - incidents like that continue to baffle me. While I agree that writers should maintain a professional demeanor, so should agents, of course. I agree that stating "only an idiot" is completely inappropriate.
But thank you for the kind words :)

First off,

Vivica - I second Colleen. It is not our job to read queries at all. If it were, my clients would be quite PO'ed (with good reason). Our job is to build careers and sell books--for our clients. There are more than a few agencies who officially take the standpoint of "NO Queries--Referrals Only." If it were an agent's job to read queries, that wouldn't be possible. As it were, I could also hang that sign out there. I certainly have enough fantastic clients to do so. But I also know how many gems are sitting in the slush, and that's why I keep reading it.

And Kathleen, I have one to add to your list!
"I have almost completed my manuscript X." You know as well as I do that "almost completed" means that they're only about a quarter of the way through to the submission process. Because that means, not only have they not finished writing the manuscript, but they haven't even thought about revising and polishing yet, which all writers should do before submission. So. Would you apply to a job and say "I've just finished my freshman year at college and I really want to be a doctor/teacher/accountant/etc! Would you please consider me now and I promise to complete all of the necessary prerequisites!"

Um, no. No you wouldn't.

As a discouraged writer, I say "Hats off to you for responding to the query regardless of the rejections's format." Having submitted several queries and followed the submission guidelines, I find it frustrating when the agent who promises to respond simply fails to even acknowledge receiving your letter, sample and/or partial manuscript. What gives with the unprofessional agent?

Those are indeed poorly thought out responses. This is, after all, a business proposition we are making. But I also agree with anonymous. I know some authors who have become frustrated when they write a really good, professional query letter that follows the agent's requirements to the letter and instead of at least getting a form rejection, get nothing. Since it takes less than 10 seconds to hit reply and say thanks, no thanks, I'd like to know what the excuse is for this. Professionalism goes both ways.

Thank you Kathleen for your post and thank you for taking the time to say "This is not for us" even if it is a form rejection letter. Seems like there are agents that won't even do that. To the authors out there: look at the agent's guidelines to see if it's a good fit and for the agents that will respond "only if we interested.." just don't submit to them. Remember, of the fifteen queries Stephanie Meyer sent out nine rejected her five didn't bother to reply. One took her on as a client. For the authors, always remember that YOU are the ones that are creating art and believe in yourself.

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