Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No Reply Necessary

I know in the past I’ve written blog articles letting authors know that if they really feel the need or desire to send a thank-you note to an agent, go right ahead. It won’t hurt anything. Well I also know that there are a few agents out there who find these nice little notes irritating. They are a waste of time and a waste of inbox space. And I understand that too.

A reader recently received a rejection (via email) from an agent who had added at the end of her letter, “And you don’t need to bother replying to this email.” While the reader understands that there are a lot of writers who send scathing email replies to rejections, she was still a little put out by this line and wanted to know my opinion on why an agent would do this.

I’ll tell you exactly why an agent would do this. Because email invites conversation, conversation that many don’t know how to end and conversation that most agents don’t have time for. Sure, some of it is a simple thank you, but a lot of it includes requests for recommendations for other agents, requests for a more detailed explanation of why exactly the work was rejected, scathing, horrible, insane replies, snotty, in-your-face, “I already have an agent anyway” replies, requests for query critiques, and the list goes on.

Think of it this way: most agents are getting somewhere between 50 and 100 email queries everyday, and if every single one of those queriers decides to reply with something, anything, even a thank you, the agent is now getting somewhere between 100 and 200 queries a day. Queries that still need to be opened and read, or at least skimmed. Time that could be used for other things.

I wouldn’t be offended by this line in the agent’s letter. It’s not meant as a personal statement to you, she had no idea that you frequently send thank yous for rejection notes. Instead it was just a strongly worded request that the conversation stop here, an agent’s attempt to keep her incoming email to a minimum and protect her own time.