Query Auto-Response

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Sep 20 2010

Because of requests/comments from those on the blog, I have added an auto-response to all queries I receive. The response says the following:

Thank you so much for querying BookEnds. Your query has been received and I look forward to reading it.

Please note that I do reply to every query and make an attempt to do so within 4 weeks of receiving it.

If you haven’t received my response in 6 weeks please assume that either your query or my reply was lost and feel free to re-query.

Thanks again.

Jessica Faust
BookEnds, LLC

I’ve always been skeptical of doing something like this and I have no idea why. I guess part of me feared that it would only result in a ton of responses that say something like, “Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.” Well, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. One author Tweeted to tell me how much she appreciated it, but other than that, nothing. No extra work for me, and hopefully this will help calm frazzled nerves.

So thank you, blog readers.


25 responses to “Query Auto-Response”

  1. I think that's wonderful. I hear so many authors saying they're not sure if the e-query went through or went to spam, or got lost in the ether. This way, we get acknowledgement the query was received.

    So thank you!

  2. Avatar RBSHoo says:

    If you are concerned about people responding to the auto-reply, you could add a line that the reply is automatically generated, and that there is no need to reply. I've seen that from other agents' auto-responses.

  3. Avatar Jill Thomas says:

    I think this is perfect for all the crazy, neurotic writers out there (myself, included) to verify their query has been received. That way, they won't spend hours obsessing about it and can spend those hours obsessing about the query itself. 😉 Thanks, Jessica, for all your sage advice, I post so many links to your blog I believe my readers think I work for you!

  4. That is great, Jessica. I really think auto-response is very useful: it calms authors down and it stops them from sending you eager follow-ups. If you´re worried about some people replying to it (that isn´t unlikely), maybe you should add that to the note, something like "please don´t reply to this message, this is an automated response".

  5. Avatar Dave F. says:

    I write short stories and I always wonder if an editor or reader received my email with the story. I like a standard response like this.

    I have good stories that I send to online magazines and then I wait and wait and wait and hear nothing. After six months, I mark the stories abandoned and consider the editors rude and ignorant. It's not worth it to wait any longer.

    I know that when a person is the editor of a magazine, then picking what appears in the magazine is a very personal decision. That doesn't mean an editor can leave a writer hanging and not reply. Politeness and common sense dictate against that.

    I like your short message. It says you have your head together and are running a business.

  6. Avatar Kathye Quick says:

    I'll have to send you a query and see how I like it – hahaha

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Way to go! The last time I queried a novel was so much more pleasant than the previous times because so many more agents were doing this. Having no idea if an agent received a query letter is the worst, in my opinion, worse than a form rejection on a Full, I swear. P.S. I'm a contracted author now, thank God.

  8. Depending on the mail client you use, auto-responses typically include a tag in the subject line "auto response" or "out of office" or the like. You can create a filter that routes any emails with this terminology in the subject to a separate folder. That would let you deal with author replies at your leisure (though any such emails from editors or clients may go there too…I'd look in the preferences and see if you can customize such a tag to something unique you could filter).

  9. Avatar Patti says:

    I love that your doing this. This makes the writer know that her query got to you.

  10. Avatar ryan field says:

    Having trouble with blogger, so this might get posted twice.

    It's a great idea. It keeps authors from freaking out and most people know there's no need to respond.

  11. I am all in favor of this. I am one of those people who had their query disappear into the depths of cyber space never to be seen again. If I had not sent a follow up email to check on status, I would have just assumed they weren't interested. Which brings me to another pet peeve – no means no. Really? how hard is it to send an automated rejection? I've never understood this one.

  12. Avatar Amity says:

    I am SO GLAD that you did this. I'm currently querying and I know that two of my queries got lost in cyberspace (both agents twittered they had answered all queries up to 'X' date, and mine was sent before, so I knew to requery). When I sent my query to you and got your autoresponse, it was relief. One, I knew that you got it, and two, I know when to follow up without needing to Twitter-Stalk.

    THANK YOU. I didn't send an email thanks because I didn't want to clutter your Inbox, but since you blogged about it, I felt the thanks was appropriate here.

  13. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I love autoreply. Love. Maybe even adore.

    When you get no confirmation of receipt, there's always something in the back of your brain screaming, "Lost! Oh my god, it's lost!"

    "I'm not asking. It's fine."

    "Lost I tell you! LOST!"

    So, thank you for doing that. It is very much appreciated.

  14. Avatar Gina Black says:

    Just a thought . . .

    "If you haven't received my response in 6 weeks please assume that either your query or my reply was lost and feel free to re-query."

    Since it's an auto-response to a query, the query must have been received to get the response, so it would only be the reply that was lost. (Unless you lose queries once they've been received?)

    BTW–I think this is a marvelous thing to do.

  15. Avatar Diane J. says:

    I think it's wonderful. I would hope it would relieve stress from all involved. The author, so they know it's okay to respond again if they haven't received any response and you, just in case a file disappears or you were just delete happy one day (sometimes the junk email piles up), you know they will resend it.

  16. Avatar Mira says:

    Cool! This seems like it would be helpful – give people a sense of where they stand and what to expect. Thanks for doing this!

  17. Avatar Sheila Cull says:

    Jessica, maybe it was the kind girl in you that didn't want to reach out in an automated waY?

  18. Excellent! This is the perfect solution. Thanks.

  19. Most businesses acknowledge receipt of an enquiry — with the exception, most literary agents don't. I've often heard this discussed at meetings, it seems no more than common courtesy, good business or whatever, and takes no more than a keystroke.
    It's not necessary to gush or to promise, simply state "Your enquiry has been received and will have our attention."
    We must all get mail intended for other persons, mail sorting and delivery is highly fallible, despite the zip codes which get ignored.

  20. Avatar magolla says:

    Thank You! As an e-querier this auto-reply puts my mind at ease. Heck–even if you did a 'no response means no' (which I hate BTW) I would be agreeable because I knew you had at least received my query.

  21. Thank you! And I promise not to email to thank you again. 😉

  22. Avatar Lucy says:

    @ Wendy Tyler Ryan

    Form rejection is one of those hanged if you do-hanged if you don't things. As you can tell from this blog, Jessica already catches a regular amount of flack for not being "personal" or "polite" enough in her responses.

    But yeah, if you're going to use form rejections anyway, moving them to a one-click setting could definitely streamline the process.

  23. Avatar MCPlanck says:

    Thanks for doing this. It's a level of courtesy that should be emulated.

  24. I love this type of auto-response. I simply wanna know that my e-mail arrived.

  25. Avatar Jennifer says:

    So…does this mean that if we don't receive an auto-reply we should try again? I just sent off my email and haven't received one yet. Didn't go to my spam folder, either, so now I'm wondering if my original email didn't go through. I obviously don't want to be a pest and resend, however.