Thursday, July 14, 2011


I believe the standard for e-queries is to place the word Query in the subject line of the e-mail. But what if you are contacting the agent for a second time. An agent passed on my manuscript and was kind enough to tell me exactly what wasn’t working for her. She also mentioned she saw promise in me as a writer and would be open to future projects.

I rewrote, and my manuscript is stronger because of her feedback (it also has a new title). I would like to resubmit and notate her feedback in the body of the e-mail. But what is the best subject line for this kind of query: Re-query, re-submission, submission follow-up, feedback follow up, or am I fretting over the wrong thing? I'm concerned that with the hundreds of other new queries she will be receiving, mine will be placed at the bottom without a subject line that makes reference to a previous connection.

Every agent handles their queries differently so it's hard to know exactly what this particular agent might do. Here's what I do:

All queries need to have either the word "query" or "submission" in the subject line. I have cleared those words from my spam filter and set up a rule in my email program to ensure that not only do they end up in a query folder, but that you receive an automatic reply telling you your query has been received.

I skim through my query folder almost daily just to see what's there. If you are re-querying me I will eventually get to your query, so putting "query" or "submission" is probably the best thing to do. If you want to note that you made revisions, put something like "query for requested revisions" so that your book will stand out, but still clear the spam filters.

What if you get an offer? Most people will email me with the subject line "offer of representation," and honestly, I think most of these clear the filters. By not putting "query" or "submission" those "offer of representation" emails end up in my regular email inbox and stand out a little better. The problem is those pesky spam filters. An email like that could still get stuck, so if you haven't heard from the agent in a day or two after notifying her of an offer, email again with "query offer of representation" in the subject so that you guarantee clearing the spam filters.

Now, all that being said, I don't think that many emails really end up in the spam filters. On the occasion I take the time to look through them, what I typically find is spam. Lots and lots of spam. Rarely do I find a stray email from a client, editor, or author.



Jane Lebak said...

If the writer hits "reply" to the previous correspondence with the agent, then the previous subject line will come up. So,

re: Query: Pretty Little Unicorns (women's fiction)

With an offer of representation, we just have to stack the subject line so it looks like this:

Offer of representation // re: Query: Pretty Little Unicorns

That will get it past the spam filter but also have the offer right up front.

ryan field said...

I even get spam in my comment thread. I know this is off topic. But the spammed comments are always comments I want to post, not delete.

I would always play it safe and use at least "query" or "submission." I even do this with contracted book submissions.

Martha Ramirez said...

Great info, Jessica. Thank you. Also, I wish EVERY agent could do an auto reply letting us know they received the query. Sometimes we wonder:)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Jessica can clarify, but I read the following as a rejection, not as request for a re-write:
"An agent passed on my manuscript and was kind enough to tell me exactly what wasn’t working for her."

Unless the agent specifically said they wanted to see your manuscript re-written, I wouldn't re-sub; 'a future project' is a different piece altogether.

Jeremy Bates said...

what about resubmitting a query?

is it okay to requery?

im not talking about spamming... but if you query an agent, then a year passes, you do major rewrites, can you query again?


BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...

Anon 9:55

I disagree. If the agent liked it enough to request and possibly suggest changes that really worked for the book why wouldn't you try again, especially if you feel the work is better because of those changes? Clearly you know this agent has good insight, insight that works for you so what do you have to lose?


My answer is generally why not? The worst that happens is a reject.


Anonymous said...


That was exactly my point: I didn't see anywhere where they stated they liked it enough for a re-write/re-sub - they simply said what 'wasn't working' for them. However, if you don't sub, you'll never know...