Thursday, July 12, 2007

Do They Not Read Their Mail?

I have sent a query to Anne Edelstein in the past, and it took a long time to get a rejection, but it came. Not any more, apparently. The query that was snail-mailed in February. complete with its requisite twenty-five page sample, has gone unnoticed and ignored. No SASE to brighten my empty letter bin.

Even Elaine Markson is too busy to respond. Besides, the query was sent in January, so the stamp wouldn't cover the postage any more.

Over at McIntosh & Otis, they might be willing to accept a query, but don't count on Elizabeth Winick to answer. No reply is a no, but precedent was set long ago. Enclose a SASE and the agent will respond, normally in the negative, but you'll have an answer. These days, the precedent is forgotten in a bid to save time or save the cost of administrative assistants who once stuffed SASEs with abandon.

No one's home at Jane Rotrosen's agency. Snail mail to Kelly Harms has been ignored, or lost, or eaten by the postman. Not accepting queries? Could you not send the SASE back with a rubber-stamped 'No', or just the empty envelope would suffice. I picture the office, where sacks of mail come in, the return addresses scouted for those of current clients, and the rest getting tossed in the dumpster out back. Someone could make a fortune in recycled envelopes and unused stamps if they were clever.

Melanie Jackson no longer responds to snail mail queries. Too high powered, perhaps, or possessed of enough lucrative clients to keep the doors closed. Then there's Harold Schmidt, a man looking for unconventional fiction. He doesn't return SASEs, however. Alex Glass over at Trident Media Group is another one who feels that a no reply is a no.

If you're waiting on any of them, checking your mail every day so that you can move on, well, don't hold your breath. There's a new rule in town, where rudeness is a way of life. The RSVP has died, and Regrets Only has fallen out of favor as well. You just don't know if your letter was received or misdirected, if the literary agent even saw it, or if they have your name in some industry-wide database. Jaysus, it's another one, the literary agent groans, and you'll never get another query letter past the door.


Writer, Rejected said...

I am so totally with you on this point, and I really love a writer who names names. Check out my blog entry entitled "No Really. Don't Bother." On just this very topic. I'm going to link to your post right now.


O hAnnrachainn said...

Why not put out the names so that others know what to expect? Why should the process be such a mystery? There's no disrespect intended, just the facts of the matter.

Thanks a million for the link -- nice to know that I'm not alone in beating my head against the wall.

Anonymous said...

I got a decent rejection letter from Kelly Harms a while back. I think it took a bit, which might mean she at least looked at it. Did you enclose a SASE? Does anyone know how many subbmissions these agents get in a month? It must be a lot. There must be a better way to get their attention. Has anyone had any success at RWA?

O hAnnrachainn said...

I always enclose a SASE. What's happening more and more these days is that the agents don't use them.

I've seen reports that agents get one to several hundred queries per week, which is why your letter has to have a very grabbing hook right off to get any attention.

If you can meet and chat up an agent at a convention or RWA gathering, do it. Agents sometimes remember writers they've met.