Sometimes when people get busy, they forget common etiquette (i.e. professional behavior). To wit:
In May, I queried An Agent Who Will Remain Unnamed. By email. Just a letter, mind you, but every well-aimed query is built on plenty of research (what the agent is looking for, who she has sold in the past, how to reach her, what she wants to see included in a submission).
It’s now October, and frankly after five months I’d figured this would be one of those unreplied-to queries. But, no. Yesterday I got a reply! (Fantastic; now I can put a definitive answer in the Reply column of the Big Ass Spreadsheet.)
The reply said – and I quote – “Sorry, not for me.” Followed by a clever contraction of her first and last name. No introduction, greeting, nothing.
We’ve all heard other writers complain about getting the “form” rejection letter, but hey, at least a form letter is courteous! I’m not asking for a full critique or even a reason for the rejection. Seriously though, would it kill this person to set up a signature in her email program, name it Kiss Off, Fledgling Writer! or Too Damn Busy to Do More, and type in a professional sentence or two? Then all she’d have to do is copy the author’s name from the email below, paste it, and then insert the signature. What would that take, ten minutes, tops?
I realize signing a new author is a risk for an agent. Unless he sells this writer’s work to a very BIG publisher, he’s looking at earning 15% of a pittance, until the author grows a readership. Lots of work for little return. And of course, he has nothing at all to gain from a writer he rejects.
Except maybe down the road, that writer nourishes her fan base, improves her craft, promos her butt off, and starts to really move books. She’ll probably stop to think, “Hey. If Agent Unnamed wasn’t Miss Manners with me, perhaps she’s not a friendly pro with editors, either. Do I want her representing me with potential publishers?” Er, no.