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Decoding the Speed of an Agent’s Response

When I first opened to email queries I used to fear rejecting a query too quickly. I would actually save rejections (even though they were forms) in my draft box and send them at a later date. I feared that I would hurt an author’s feelings by responding too quickly, or appear as if I didn’t read it.

I’m old and grizzled now and I’ve come to realize that the speed at which I reject a query shouldn’t matter. It’s a rejection and no matter how long it takes, it might sting.

I read a query with the same speed no matter how long it sits in my inbox. Lately, thanks to Query Manger, I’ve gotten pretty quick. Unless something is sent on the weekend it hardly sits a day. This doesn’t mean I’m giving these responses any less thought. It just means I have the ability to pop in, read a few, and make a decision. I don’t need a few days or even a week to know if I want to read more. Sure, sometimes I’ll wait a few hours and re-read something, but if it’s taking that much thought it’s usually a rejection.

BookEnds responds to all queries. As long as I’m in charge, we always will. Don’t fret if it takes 2 minutes, 2 days, or 2 years (let’s hope it doesn’t). The speed at which we answer is based entirely on our own schedules and has nothing to do with the quality of your query. The answer we give however might be based on the quality.

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7 comments

  1. You’re a big softie at heart, it is nice to know how much you think of authors. Even if you are saying no, (for now anyway) you have always given me the belief Bookends is open to further submissions even if your first book doesn’t make the cut.

  2. I personally prefer a quick response–especially if it’s a rejection. Like removing a band-aid, the pain is worse if you draw it out. Also, a quick response lets me move on that much faster.

    But any response, fast or slow, is better than no response. I wish all agencies had Bookends’ policy of responding to every query. You all are good people. 🙂

  3. Forgive me if you’ve attended to this topic before, I could not find it. But is there ever a good reason why an agent would ask for a full and then not read it? This agent (a biggie) asked for a full the day after I sent her a query, and then extracted a promise from me to let her know if I received another offer and to give her a week to read it. I agreed. When I did receive another offer, I let her know, as I was still very interested in her, and felt her client list would be an even better match than the offering agent. She replied “Thank you for letting me know!” and that was three weeks ago. I can see she is twittering constantly so I know she didn’t fall of a cliff. 🙂

    I almost feel like I shouldn’t have told her about the offer, that maybe she felt it was pressuring her, but I was merely doing what she had asked, and I’d read a few agents’ comments complaining about MSs they’d spent a weekend reading, only to find out the author already had taken representation.

    Honestly, this makes me very leery about sending out fulls without demanding some kind of time frame. I’ve decided not to nudge her as she knows where I am, knows I have an offer, and certainly if she was interested, would have read it. But I found the experience rather strange.

    1. I think there’s a lot I need to answer here and I’m going to do it in a blog post. I think there’s important information here.

  4. Emily, I was going to write something on what you said, but I’ll wait for Jessica’s post and comment there (I had major surgery a few weeks back and am only now able to catch up on the backlog of posts!)

    Jessica, how lovely you care about those you are rejecting even after many years, although I don’t believe the old and grizzled thing (especially as I have a suspicion we might be of the same vintage *grin*). To be honest, the telling thing for me isn’t the time it takes for you to respond, but that you respond at all! Norman agencies (no reply means no) cause writers a lot of angst (I mean, how long is it until no reply turns into a no and not just a ‘haven’t go to it yet’?).

  5. The first query I ever sent out, I received a rejection within just a few hours– and while it did sting a bit, honestly it helped to curb my fear of rejection, because then I better understood the whole big, scary world of querying. I think, overall, a long wait is more excruciating than a rejection!

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