Proper Submission Etiquette

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Sep 19 2007

It seems like a never-ending blog post, but clearly it never hurts to remind people. I got an email today from someone that had so many things wrong with it I don’t know where to begin.

First of all, she tells me that she sent an email query to Jacky, but since Jacky was on vacation she thought she’d send it to me instead. Patience, people. An out-of-office email doesn’t mean we’re not getting your email, it just means it might take a day, week, or even two weeks to get back to you. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should take that as a rejection and immediately query everyone else in the office. Now what are you going to do if both agents request the material? And then what if both agents like it and want to represent you? You’ve already created animosity for yourself and your name in-house, and I’ll tell you that the agency isn’t going to leave it up to you to pick who you like best. In fact, to avoid trouble in-house some agencies might make the “life’s too short” decision. Life’s too short to fight over an author who can’t follow the rules, therefore we’ll just reject her.

Then she tells me that I already have a partial of hers (in fact I know I just received it a few weeks ago) but thought that since Jacky represents more of the particular genre of her new book she would send it to her. Well, she’s wrong. If she had reviewed our Web site she would see that this is, in fact, a genre Jacky doesn’t represent and I do. So where she’s getting her information is interesting. In addition, why would you want to start building a relationship with one agent and then switch in the middle? Don’t do this. Don’t burn your bridges within one agency. Once you’ve committed, try to continue submitting to the same agent. If, for some reason, you decide you would do better with someone else within the agency, you’ll have to wait until all of your proposals are read before making that switch.


10 responses to “Proper Submission Etiquette”

  1. All of this seems obvious.
    It’s a shame you have to reiterate it.
    If the submitter just belonged to a professional writers’ group none of this would happen.

    Oh and the word verification was types completely with my left hand.

  2. Avatar Karen says:

    That all works very well if the agents play nice. I have one submission out there to a multiple agent agency. Its been sitting there with its little SASE since April. I tried your suggestion and (nicely)poked the agent with an email and she replied immediately that she had my submission and would be reading it. Then black hole again for another month and a half. One of the other agents in the agency interests me but she’s closed to me until I’m turned down by the first. I guess I should give up on the agency period.

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Whenever I get impatient I think of a friend who started her writing career before e-mail. Back when snail mail was the norm. It took months to go back and forth, and writers queried one agent at a time.
    We’re all so spoiled now, and want answers instantly. When my friend started, she typed her manuscripts on a typewriter. How many writers even got to the point of submitting when that was the case?
    It’s hard to be patient, but whenever I’m tempted to do something stupid I try to think of those times and sit on my hands.

  4. Since my submissions were eaten by your spam catcher, I’m wondering again if you received my thank you? I hope so.

  5. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Actually, it does hurt a little to be reminded yet again. Most of us are doing our best and we’re frequently lumped in with the newbies who don’t know any better or the jerkwads who don’t want to follow the rules. Maybe instead of repeating these things, you could permanently post them on the blog’s sidebar and in your submission guidelines.

  6. One of the other agents in the agency interests me but she’s closed to me until I’m turned down by the first. I guess I should give up on the agency period.

    Karen, after a month and a half, I think it’s fair to poke her again, especially given that she’s had the submission for five months.

    If the black hole continues to not let any message escape it, then toss a letter in (politely) saying that you’re pulling the submission from consideration.

    Give the letter time to arrive, then query the other agent.

    There’s no reason to give up on the agency just because one agent in it is currently swamped.

  7. i usually send a submission and move on, forgetting about it unless i hear from the agent. i’ve actually had one come back almost a year later! i picture your office stuffed full of envelopes bearing submissions and i wouldn’t want to rush you through anything. i’d rather you took your time and gave my work a good look. am i wrong?
    sorry for the lack of caps-i had rotator cuff surgery last week and i’m typing one handed…

  8. Avatar Chumplet says:

    Anon 9:01, if it hurts to be hit over the head with the obvious over and over again, I think you might be in for a long road of hurt. Take the advice, and if you don’t need it, ignore it.

  9. Avatar Kim Lionetti says:

    Southern Writer–

    Got it! Thanks for the courtesy!

  10. *wipes brow* That’s a relief. At the risk of being redundant, I’ll say thanks again.