Monday, May 18, 2009

The Importance of Follow-Up

Recently BookEnds had some major trouble with our server. Apparently another domain also using our server (through the web hosting company we use) was hacked into and blocked for spam. That meant a fair number of emails leaving our server were blocked by the email hosts receiving the emails (namely yahoo, msn, hotmail, etc). Which means that a fair number of emails we sent over a two-day period were rejected by servers. Strangely for me, all of the emails that were rejected were responses to queries. Once our hosting company was alerted and corrected the mistake I attempted to go through and resend some of the emails. Unfortunately, many still bounced and I’m sure I didn’t catch them all.

Sadly, I barely have the time to read and answer queries, let alone figure out which got through and which didn’t. The point? Check in! If you haven’t received a response from a BookEnds agent in the “respond by” time posted on our Web site (and I do suggest you give us a week or two beyond that for things like emergencies, vacations, responses that haven’t been written yet, or just a backlog) then don’t hesitate to send a quick email checking on status. If we no longer have the query in our inbox we’ll ask you to resend, or you can preempt that by checking in and including the query a second time. Email is not perfect and I get rejected/returned emails all the time.

While BookEnds agents can, at times, be slow, we do respond to everything, so if you haven’t heard, there’s a reason.

Jessica

10 comments:

Richard Mabry said...

Jessica,
Although I'm not affected by this particular computer glitch, I'm sympathetic to your agency and the writers still waiting for responses that got hung up on a bramble bush at the side of the information highway.
We all appreciate the convenience of the internet, but sometimes technology is less than perfect. Thanks for giving fair warning to those who might be waiting for a message that never reached them.

Kimber An said...

That's a toughie. A lot of us are used to getting no responses from agents or editors at all. So, why should we follow up? Although I try to only query agents and editors who state and have a reputation for responding to all queries regardless, I still 'Submit and Forget,' because there's no way of knowing if I'll get any response at all.

I queried an agent last September who states she responds to all queries and even provides a timeline. No response. I re-queried. No response. I gave up. Clearly, her website is not up to date. Sigh. Move on.

Kimber An said...

Oh, and cross her off my Agents-to-Query list.

Anonymous said...

Just checked my accounts from my gmail address and everything seems to be working...today. I've had agents say that they responded to my manuscript, but sometimes I'm not sure whether to believe them. One agent said he'd resend his response, but when he did, the title of his "original" email was different from the former title I'd been using, plus the date of it (that he must have inserted) was prior to an important event that happened with the book, which he mentioned in his letter. How could he know about this event if the date of the letter was before the event happened? I thanked him for such a nice letter, but it was obviously written later, not when he claimed to have sent it. So sometimes agents use "I responded to you already" as an excuse.

Anonymous said...

Jessica,

It's so nice that you respond. I'm with Kimber Ann; had I queried you and not got any response I would have thought you were like a lot of other agencies with the no response means no. I think that's why an automatic response system should be set up for agencies, so we know our stuff actually made it there, and it's not LOST IN SPACE.

Anonymous said...

I think that's why an automatic response system should be set up for agencies, so we know our stuff actually made it there, and it's not LOST IN SPACE.I agree! I do understand that agents are flooded with queries these days, and I respect their no response/no interest policy if it's stated up front. But mail servers and ISPs are not perfect.

I submitted a short story over the weekend to a tiny ezine, and got an immediate auto response confirming receipt. I was impressed.

Anonymous said...

I believe it is important to follow up not just queries, but even if a rejection does not make sense. Recently, I had an agent reject our manuscript AFTER requesting a partial and later a full saying that the agency did not represent the genre. If the agency does not represent the genre, why did you ask to see a partial and than a full from a query? I was polite and professional...and, as along as you are...most people responded in kind. Anyway, it turned out that a new person in the office had requested these things without realizing they did not represent the genre anymore. Mistakes happen...but I'm glad I asked. And, the agent professionally apologized and stated steps where taken in the agency to make sure nothing like this happens to another author, including updating their website which stated they did represent the genre.

gringo said...

The great thing is that you actually respond to all queries!

I hope you never change that aspect of how you do business.

Anonymous said...

After waiting over two months on a short partial, I gave your agency a nudge--that resulted in an immediate (but nice) rejection. Glad I kept sending out those queries or the waiting would drive me nuts!

Steven Jay Cohen said...

Ask your company's IT department to purchase a unique IP address from your hoster. The reason this problem happened is because you shared an IP with someone else on the same machine. Adding a unique IP can be as little as $10 a month extra and will save you from having to track down emails again in the future.

I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write.