Monday, March 15, 2010

Thoughts on Thank You

In doing Query Recaps, you’ve noticed that I get a fair number of thank-yous in response to rejections. Not a ton, but about 3 to 5 for every 100 queries I answer. There’s been a lot of discussion on agent blogs about not doing thank-yous because it simply adds more to our in-box, and I agree. There’s a big part of me that thinks it would be easier if writers stopped sending thank-yous for every rejection. That being said, there’s a side of me that always feels a little more motivated to give some sort of feedback after receiving a thank-you. It’s nice to know you’ve helped.

So, if you want to write a thank-you, go ahead and do so. Let’s put it this way: no one is going to blacklist you for a thank-you. Unless of course you do the backhanded thank-you. Always a favorite of mine. Something that goes like this, “Thank you so much for providing feedback. It’s really too bad you can’t see the value in this. I thought after reading your blog you might be different, might have some guts. I see now I was wrong. I’ll keep plugging away and won’t quit until I find that agent who is willing to take a chance on a bestseller.”

Jessica

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

If an agent were to actually say something I could use, maybe then I'd consider a thank you. But otherwise I think it's ludicrous. You're not yet at a point where you're anything to the agent. Chances are, you've received something less than five minutes of their consciousness, probably a lot less. They say 'no.' it means 'no!'Go away. They usually don't want to go into the reasons they say no, they're afraid of you becoming some kind of lingering ghost or malignant personality.

Maybe I'd say thank you, if there was already some exchange, some interplay going on. But otherwise, move on.

Donna Lea Simpson said...

I always say 'thank you'... is that the 'nice girl' side of me that feels that every interaction requires a response?

Mind you, in one memorable instance, I got caught in one of those unending exchanges...

Me: "Thank you for considering me... have a nice day."

Her: "Oh, no problem; your stuff was great, just not for me. You have a great week."

Me: "Thanks for the compliment. All the best to you."

Her: "You too... I know you'll find a great agent."

Aaargh! I finally just had to stop answering, because one of us had to.

ClothDragon said...

I sent a 'thank you' the other day even after reading the blogs and knowing that thank you's aren't done because they fill already too full in boxes.

I did it because it was obvious in the response she sent that she had read my story all the way through and was offering real suggestions to make the story better.

I don't know if she does this for everyone, I would guess not, but I thought there was a chance that a 'thank you' from me --for the effort she'd made-- might brighten her day. It certainly expressed my very real appreciation of her effort.

She didn't respond to this, and I didn't expect her to, but I hope she appreciates that I did read her well-thought-out suggestions and I did take them seriously. -- And I think she was right.

Eventually I will use her suggestions and start over on a complete rewrite -- but I want to finish a second novel-length project before slogging back into my first. It doesn't prove anything if I spend years on the first novel without ever making it through the second even if I do eventually get that one published.

Anonymous said...

Agree with clothdragon-- I've sent thank you's to agents or editors who took the time to give me their advice along with a rejection.

I know they don't do this for everyone, that it's extra effort on their part, that it's in fact a favor, and my mother taught me always to thank people for a favor.

GK said...

Yeah, thank-yous to query rejections are pushing it I feel, but for partials and fulls, when the agent (presumably) gives a response with suggestions, sincere thank-yous are quite nice. Just like authors appreciate knowing someone read and thought about their work, agents appreciate knowing that their words were heard and appreciated.

Also, when I receive thank-yous for answering questions, it's very nice. While most of the time it's a form response to something like "I'm new to this business, how do I get an agent?", it tends to be a rather long, thought-out letter with lots of helpful links and encouraging language. Once I got a response that simply read "You're wonderful!" I keep that in my inbox, so when I'm slogging through to clean out the emails I don't need to keep any more, I inevitably come across those two little words and am invigorated.

Wendy Qualls said...

I've sent a few thank-yous, but only to agents and editors who a) gave me helpful suggestions, and b) did not invite me to re-submit. I guess I feel like if our professional relationship is over with anyway (via the rejection), I have nothing to lose by being polite even if the agent or editor doesn't like thank-you notes. And if I succeed in putting them in a good enough mood to give some other writer constructive criticism too, then I've done something good for the writing world as a whole.

ryan field said...

This was a nice post, and I think writers say thank you, most of the time, because they really mean it.

Bethany said...

I see you quoted my backhanded Thank You note. ;)

Yeah, I don't quite see the point in replying to a form rejection. It sort of seems like you're trying for a second chance. Which is ridiculous. Unless you really can get published over niceness.

Timothy Fish said...

Then how about a backhanded letter of frustration? After receiving your rejection letter, I want you to know that I am totally peeved. Had you just agreed to represent me instead of letting me know that it isn’t right for you I could have spent several months on cloud nine, anticipating that you would soon tell me that you had gotten an offer from a publisher when in fact you had forgotten about it. I really don’t appreciate the feedback you gave me on the manuscript. I’m sure you’re right, in most cases, and I’ll be working to make changes in the coming days, but now I’ll have to listen to my mother complain because people don’t agree with her opinion. Then there’s the problem that you’ve encouraged me to spend more time writing. I was really hoping that someone would tell me that I’m a terrible writer and I would put this stuff behind me. So, for all you’ve done to help me, I demand that you apologize.

Tracy said...

That's the double edged sword of e-mail queries. For the record, I don't respond to query rejections with a "thank you", but the trigger finger gets a bit itchier with an e-mail submission. Snail mail curbs the overly polite "thank you" tendency, because it takes too much effort for most of us.

Chris Johnson said...

I'm reasonably sure I got my agent because of thank you notes I sent. For the agents who sent me personalized, rather than form rejections in my first round of queries, in the note I ventured to ask for a bit of advice. A couple responded with very helpful feedback, advice that guided my next round of queries, which resulted in a couple of offers.

That was some years ago, and things may have changed, but I think thank you notes, besides being just good manners, can also help you.

Aimless Writer said...

The hardest thing to do is not thank someone. Our mother's raised us to write thank you's and always be polite.
But we do understand your email box is already flooded so whenever we query you just assume we're thanking you too.
:)

Steph Damore said...

I think before I thank an agent, that's for sure. But honestly, if I didn't receive your feedback, I would have settled on my writing. Instead I've spent the last week revising like a mad woman and making my book better. Changing plot, characterization--you know, all that fun stuff. So, like I said before "thank you."

Anonymous said...

All right, here's a variation on this question for you and your agent friends to chew over.

Recently, I came across a rejection I had received from an agency for a book that I subsequently sold and will be published.

I thought about e-mailing her my thanks for her advice. I don't feel a need to "rub it in" so it isn't that. It's that she took the time to make some notes on the standard rejection form that were accurate (actually, several agents suggested the same thing, and they were right). I thought she might like to know she had a positive effect on me.

Would it be wrong to let her know?

Anonymous said...

She doesn't care. Leave her alone.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3:53-- I actually did this, not with an agent, but with a minor publisher that nearly bought my novel. Later a major publisher did buy it. I emailed to thank her for her help.

Though she responded politely, she clearly thought I was rubbing it in. And looking back, subconsciously, that's exactly what I was doing. 'Twould have been better left undone.

Nichole Giles said...

I'm one of the thank you people. I think it has more to do with me than with the agent. Personally, I think thanking someone for his or her time is a gracious thing to do. It's how I was raised.

If an agent specifically has a 'no thank you' policy, I'll definitely respect that. It's an honor thing. But if not, I'd hope the agent who recently rejected my work will understand that I realize how much time query-reading requires, and that I truly am thankful for their time. Even if they haven't given me much feedback.

I'll especially thank the agents and publishers who have requested more than the original query.

It goes back to doing research and knowing who you're querying. If you're doing it right, you'll already know if an agent has a no thank you policy, and if you happen to disagree, perhaps this agent isn't the best choice for you? Just a thought.

Thank you for this post. It made me think, and I appreciate hearing your feelings on this subject.

Brenda Sturgis said...

I personally always write a thank you. Only takes a few seconds. Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it. Thank you for reading my blog, I really appreciate it. By the way...YOUR BLOG is awesome!

Anonymous said...

If they took the time to help you, I think a nice short thank-you is the least you can do. When people ask for my advice, I appreciate a word of thanks. My mom still sends thank you cards and a quick e-mail takes only a minute to send.

Anonymous said...

Anons 3:53, 4:23, 5:06: Oh, I'm in even deeper doo-doo then. I not only let an editor know that another publisher brought out the novel she rejected 20 years earlier, but I also sent her a copy of the completely rewritten book. However, I didn't send her an announcement when the novel won a major award. My social skills aren't THAT bad.

Anonymous said...

I'd only say thank you if I genuinely had something to thank the agent for. It's pretty rare, however, that someone rejecting you will really say anything that is so useful or inciteful that I genuinely thankful.

Honestly, if an agent rejects me my initial feeling is usually, "Idiot -- it would be nice to hear if they went under"; though that emotional reaction quickly fades into total apathy that the agent exists -- pretty much the same thing they feel anout me.

Kathy said...

I received a rejection letter from an editor with Harlequin and it provided quality reasons for their rejection. I wanted to send the editor a thank you note for taking time to read my partial. I was wondering if it was considered good or bad?

Anna said...

I say thank you if the agent gives me feedback. If I get a form rejection then I just give it the bird and burn it at stake with the rest of them!