Ask Daphne! When to give up

Brigid asks:

At what point does no response to a query (an e-query) mean NO from an agent? Say you’ve sent out, I don’t know, 25 queries to agents who are NOT setting up a new shop. You’ve had some rejections, you’ve had some requests for partials, but there are still about ten out there that are floating with no response. Two weeks? Four? Six? When do you cut the cord and say, “Ain’t gonna happen. Stop praying.”? 🙂

Well, the first thing I’d do is check the agency’s website or the agent’s blog, if they have one. Do they accept e-queries in the first place? If they don’t, then do things the old fashioned way and send a letter. It’s likely your email was just deleted unread. If they do accept e-queries, have they posted anything about a backlog, or a delay in responding? Even if they haven’t, have they given a timeframe for responses? Agent A may promise to respond to email queries within two weeks, in which case, if you haven’t heard in a month, I think you could be justified in sending a reminder. Agent B may say she’ll respond within a month, so I’d give her twice that much time before resending. Whatever timeframe you think might be long enough, double that, then you can resend, or send a reminder.
In any case, when you resend, my personal request would be a brief cover email with your original e-query attached, saying simply something along the lines of “Dear Agent — I understand you may be overwhelmed with queries at this time, but I didn’t want to take the chance that my letter was somehow lost, and I am delighted to resubmit my query of Date.” You can flower that up, of course, make it pretty, and I always like to allow the possibility of blame to fall on the intrawebs. But keep it simple.
And of course, keep submitting! Find other agents to query who will respond. It sounds like you’ve got some good feedback already, so track down some more of the good ones, and keep trying until you get that offer of representation.

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