Status Queries: The Gentle Nudge

As Heather posted a few weeks ago, not all agent/editors answer queries. But even the ones who state they do, often drop the ball.


I sympathize.

They are BUSY, OVERWHELMED PEOPLE WITH OVERFLOWING INBOXES. Stuff can get lost, shunted into a pipeline to look at closer when there’s more time and then FALL INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE.


Many peeps are leery of bugging the editor/agent. But most want to be bugged–intelligently. First, check to see if the agent/editor has a twitter, blog or website where she updates the state of her inbox. Many editor/agents will post messages such as “If you queried me before January 13th, 1959, and have not heard from me, it’s a no.” Or, “I’ve cleared my email and if you haven’t heard from me you’re lost in the shuffle. Requery.” If you need more info, check the submissions guidelines to see what the stated response time is, and give a 25% pad.

If all signs point to “Should Have Answer By Now”, then send your Status Query.

  • Forward the original query with pages, synopsis or whatever accoutrements were sent the first time.
  • Preface the query with a brief description: “Dear Beloved Agent, I’m inquiring as to the status of my picture book, DEAD FISH FLOAT, DEAD MEN SINK: SCIENCE IS FUNNY, ISN’T IT? I have included the original query dated 02.02.02 to refresh your memory. “
  • The subject line should read STATUS QUERY: DEAD FISH FLOAT, DEAD MEN SINK
  • Make sure you have all your contact info readily available in your letter.
  • Traditionally, a snail-mail status query is just a note, however, I think I’d go ahead and send the picture book manuscript or pages, if it fits in a business-sized envelope.

That’s all there is to it. Your submittee knows if it’s past her usual response time, and she will appreciate you forwarding the original info so she doesn’t have to literally or figuratively thumb through her files.

If the agent/editor’s stated guidelines say she responds, don’t be shy about getting your answer. A status query is totally reasonable and even expected by some agents and editors, and for a request for a full, maybe even two well-spaced status requests are in order!


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