Friday, May 25, 2007

Q & A 111

Over at Jessica Faust's BookEnds blog, there's a raging debate about whether or not to thank the agent/editor for their time and consideration when submitting a query. Well, maybe not so raging -- it seems like Jessica is about the only one who says not to do so; commentors mostly disagree with her. Do you prefer to be thanked when agents (or writers, if you accept unsolicited slush) submit work? Or do you consider that unwarranted groveling?

I visited the links you provided. My first thought was, WHAT?!! Who's this doing query critiques? Who does she think she is, horning in on my territory? Wouldn't it be easier, instead of critiquing a query, to send her readers to EE's blog, where there are nearly 400 query critiques? Incredibly, Evil Editor isn't even among the blog links in her sidebar! That right there should send up a red flag.

Then I read the query critiques. They aren't even funny!!

But, getting to your question, I see nothing wrong with a simple Thank you, or Thank you for your time and consideration. I pay my masseuse, my psychiatrists, and my pool boy very well, but I still thank them for their services.

On the other hand, that stuff is usually at the end of the letter, and I've already made up my mind whether I'm interested before I get to it, so it isn't going to alter my decision.

If I were a writer, I would expect my agent to include a word of thanks when submitting my manuscript to a publisher. I can't recall receiving a letter from an agent who didn't do so. You shouldn't have to tell your agent that you want a thank you included with your submissions, but perhaps you do.

After critiquing 380+ queries on this blog, the phrase I'm sick and tired of reading is: I look forward to hearing from you. Of course you do. That's the whole point of a query letter. Is the agent more likely to get back to you if you declare that you look forward to it? Does she sort the slush into piles from authors who look forward to her response, and those who don't? I don't believe so.


Brenda Bradshaw said...

*pats EE on the back* There, there, it'll be okay... deep breaths...

Robin S. said...

It seems to me that saying thank you for your time, or something of that sort, is simply the polite closing for the end of a "business letter".

I compose letters throughout my work week, albeit not to agents or editors. Thank you for your time, or thank you for your whatever, is always in the letter, just before the best regards or the sincerely.

It seems, when you’re writing one, that a query letter should be more personal than business, because the content and the request to "do business" is so very important, personally, to the writer of the query. But it's still a request to do business, just a “whole ‘nother” type of business, something I hadn’t really thought about until recently. Next time I write one of these guys (letters), I'm going to try to remember that the receiver probably has a mortgage to pay, orthodonture and kids’ college to pay for, like I did, and do, so I’d better have something to say that’s worth the time it takes to read the letter, and maybe a little more.

I consider myself warned about the "I look forward to hearing from you" part.

I’ll be traveling to Britain tomorrow for a week, to see my older daughter’s work displayed in an art show, and do a few other things while I’m there. You all have fun.

Anonymous said...

My mama always said, "If you don't know what to say, just say, 'Thank you.'"

I always end my query letters:

Thanks for you time to consider name_of_novel.

I've thanked them for exact what I'm asking them to do. It's over in a nanosecond, and in my case, it is always sincere.

phoenix said...

Thank you for responding, EE!

I've put a plug in over there for your site (only since you told Takoda you don't mind us doing some marketing for you).

While I greatly respect Jessica for offering to do these critiques because it IS time consuming, I also found it a little funny that she seemed exhausted after taking a week to critique 5 of them. Especially considering Miss Snark and Rachel Vater's critiquing marathons, and your much more sane and consistent approach that has you doing the same number, and more, week in and week out.

But her blog is more about the business side anyway. Yours is much more fun and interactive.

BuffySquirrel said...

We don't have fun in Britain. It's not allowed.

takoda said...

EE is definitely tops! Thanks for the smile and laughs and learning, every single day.

But, there's a darker side to being an editor. Let's hope we never see the following headline for our own dear EE: (not sure how to make this a hyperlink),0,875274.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Robin S. said...


You guys know all about having fun.
At least where I'm going, you sure do. London, then down to Somerset and Dorset for a few days.

Anonymous said...

Pssst. This is on the QT, but since we've become so close these past few months, I feel compelled to share the news.

The Query is Dying.(Thank Dog) It's a slow, agonizing, painful death, but, mark my words: The Death of the Query is at Hand!! I can detect the malodorous stench of decay from here. (I have a specially equipped Mac) In its place will reign the notorious “Feedback Form” where “Thank You” becomes a dangerous waste of a limited allotment of characters.

The query of today bears little resemblance to what was once quaintly known as a letter, business or otherwise, anyway. It has become an advance advertisement for a product.
So close with a Thank You while you are able.

Anonymous said...

Thank You

~Nancy said...

Of course you should end a query letter with a thank you, IMHO (speaking as a secretary, um, administrative assistant who has worked in the corporate world for over 20 years).

It's just funny to me that it would be the grounds for such a long discussion on the other blog.

Just sayin'. :-)


Anonymous said...

"And don’t bother thanking me. This is a sales pitch. ..."Keep wowing me, don’t grovel." -Jessica

I think BookEnds needs to put this up on their blog header. It'll help writers understand exactly who they're dealing with.

Every sales person I know says, "thank you." It's a term of politeness and not to say so would seem lacking not only in personal skills, but also in an understanding of the politesse of doing business.

Frankly, I think a dose of Tish Baldridge, Miss Manners or at the very least Emily Vanderbilt's Guide To Etiquette is in order out there in New Jersey. I wish them luck luck finding clients who won't be hell to work with.

Oddly, by picking such a petty point, they've also managed to derail their own blog.