Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Madness: Queries are final... hands off!

I'm not trying to call anyone out with this post. And if you find you've done the no-nos in this post, no need to follow up with another email or comment of apology. Your intentions were good, and I do appreciate it. This is more of a "keep in mind for the future" sort of post.

I'll set up the scenario.

I write a blog post about particulars of the query process. You're reading and reach a particular faux pas and scream "Noooooo!" at the screen like a bad horror movie. Because you queried me two weeks ago. And committed the faux pas. You rush to your email, dig up our email thread, or start a new one with the subject "correction to query submitted Month/Day", and hurriedly (but not so hurriedly you don't forget to be diplomatic or check for grammar and spelling errors) write me a note apologizing for not knowing I prefer my queries a certain way and to please overlook the error or accept the new query. I see the email in my inbox, smile to myself, give you an e-cookie (warm, gooey, chocolate chippy, zero calories--it's an e-cookie, go with it), think "oh, you adorable dear," and delete it (not your query, I'll still answer that, non-biasedly). [query no-nos can be found in my January Query posts such as this one on What Not to Include]
Look familiar?

This entire process is unnecessary. And you're cluttering my inbox. And wasting your own precious time.

Most things that you're wanting to correct are tiny things, things that will not sway my vote from yes to no. The exception may be if you realize you get my name wrong and catch it just after sending the email. Go to that email thread, send me another with a quick apology. I completely understand that mistakes are made. And it is nice to know you were actually (mostly) paying attention.

When you send a query... hands off! No resubmitting, no do-overs, no minor or major corrections, no additions to your bio.

Move on to a new project. Do not rework your query or ms (unless you're submitting to new agents or contests) until you've received all the feedback from your first/second/third round of querying. And since you've been concentrating on something else, you can go back to it with fresh eyes and incorporate the changes.

The only reasons you should be bugging an agent after submitting a query are 1) following up after the agent's preferred time frame to be sure they've received the query; 2) following up after the agent has had your ms for a preferred time frame; 3) to inform an agent of another offer of representation; 4) to withdraw the query/ms from consideration for a myriad of reasons including shelving the project (not suggested--get as much feedback as you can--it'll help you, if not for this project, then for the next) or accepting another offer.

And now that I've gotten half of you fretting over the tiny imperfections of your query, and the other half fretting that I hate you because you did this, I'll leave you with a reminder--

I'm not trying to call anyone out with this post. And if you find you've done the no-nos in this post, no need to follow up with another email or comment of apology. Your intentions were good, and I do appreciate it. This is more of a "keep in mind for the future" sort of post;


Happy writing!


Huntress said...

Does referring to you as 'Mr' count? *facepalm*

Richard said...

Now I want a consolidated list of faux pas, that will help me check them before submitting my query to you =)

E said...

What about requests for pages that come after you've already done a round of edits? For example - you do your first round of queries and get either no response or rejections. So you edit and rewrite and are ready to start querying again when a request for pages comes from your first round of queries all those months ago. What's a good way to respond and indicate that you've made significant changes to the manuscript especially if your (now old) first pages were included in the query? This may or may not be a true story.

Vickie Motter said...

Elissa--You can include a quick note that the ms has been under revisions and the first pages are now different. You don't need much. If the now old pages weren't included in the query, nothing is really needed.

Richard--please check out my January Query month, such as this post: http://navigatingtheslushpile.blogspot.com/2012/01/january-query-time-what-not-to-include.html

I will update this post to include links. Thanks guys!

Jen Veldhuyzen said...

*facepalm* I can imagine how awful it would be if every single query you get comes with corrections trailing along, just waiting for you over the next few weeks and months. And how much harder that makes it for new query-ers to get their time with you. Is it like that? I like to imagine each query as the three minutes of fame I get with you, my "turn." To keep sending follow-ups seems to me like taking someone else's turn. "Wait your turn, everybody!"

Speaking of...what is your response time? Online, some sites say you usually get back within a month after reviewing those partials. When should we send you a follow-up--if ever? I know some agents appreciate a friendly reminder, and others take a "please don't contact me ever" approach. I tried to find this info on your blog and agency website, and couldn't. I apologize if this is online and I'm just a little obtuse.

More embarrassing question...what if we send you the partial you requested--and think it's perfect at the time--but then wake up weeks later possessed by a spirit of Revision that we had never anticipated? Then what?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if you could clarify one of the points 'when its okay to contact an agent'?
I've received an offer of contract from an editor which I'm still going over, and another editor has asked to give her some time to read the story and get back to me. I also submitted my story to one agent. Should I contact the agent at this point to withdraw my submission or should I wait until I've signed a contract?

Vickie Motter said...

Jen--My response time is 2 months. I know I've mentioned it in a blog post before, last month probably in my February Requests series, but I'll be sure to add it somewhere more visible. The spirit of revision is tricky--that's why I say hands off. Start something new. If you're distracted, you won't be tempted.

Anon--Since it's just the query, you can hold off until you pick something definite. If you'd like her/him to be in the running, let him/her know so she/he can have a chance. It sounds like you've pretty much decided to go with an editor, so you can decide when to let the agent know.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Vickie!
Yes, I have my heart set on the publisher I am waiting to hear from. I will let the agent know once I hear back. :o)

Carrie Butler said...

Good to know! Thank you. :)

Kay Elam said...

Good information to have...especially the only reasons we should bug an agent after sending a query. Thanks.

Martha Ramirez said...

I'm really enjoying reading all your tips! Keep 'em coming. It gives me something to look frwd to.

Heather Marsten said...

Thanks so much for this post. I'm editing my MS and soon have to face the query. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. It's comforting to know that tiny errors (while one wants to avoid them) are not deal breakers.

Jen Veldhuyzen said...

Thanks Vicky. A part of me wants to cry, "But noooo this is so much better" and another part of me knows I really need to just suck it up and move on. Thanks, thanks!

Susan Fields said...

I love the list of circumstances under which to contact an agent after submitting a query - so helpful to have exact guidelines!

Megan said...

Oh, sweet Jesus. I did this to you a week and a half ago. Now I feel terrible about it. My manuscript got a bunch of requests that week and I was a tad excited. So sorry, Vicky!