I received a question recently from a reader who was asking how persistent she should or needs to be when it comes to her queries. She had e-queried Agent X in late December and again on April 14th, but has yet to hear anything back. She assumes her query ended up in a spam filter or something similar since friends who have also queried the same agent have heard back. The question is when do you stop or when do you assume that no answer means no?
This is a trickier question than it should be. I would imagine many readers will simply tell you that no answer means no. However, if this is an agent who does reply to all queries (and not one who says that no reply means you’ve been rejected), then you would assume you would hear back. You would be amazed at how many e-queries get lost. If they make it out of our server’s spam filter they can often end up in our email program’s spam filter. While each of us do check those regularly, things can easily fall through the cracks, especially if a query is not marked “query” or “submission” in the subject line. And you might be amazed how often I respond to queries that for whatever reason don’t get through. Sometimes they are bounced back because of my server or yours, and sometimes I receive a notice that they are in your spam filter (which I hope you are all checking).
If you’re querying BookEnds and not receiving replies, I would suggest you try again and even follow up with a snail mail letter and SASE. In fact, earlier this year I received an e-query from an author telling me that in November she had e-queried and never received a reply so decided to try again. Guess what? Within two weeks’ time or so that author became a client.
I can’t tell you anything specific about the agent mentioned above, but as long as you’re still willing to follow up within the time frame this agent suggests that she replies, go ahead and do so. Eventually you’ll hear back or decide yourself that enough is enough.
Persistence is great. I applaud and admire it, but don’t let it get in the way of what might ultimately be the right choice. While you think that Agent X is the perfect agent for you and are zealously pursuing her, don’t ignore other things that are going on. You might discover that, in fact, Agent Z, the agent you never considered, is in fact your dream agent.