Sunday, November 19, 2006

Do NOT Shoot Yourself In The Foot

I was cruising blogs today and came across a comment that really hit home with me.

The Knight Agency's Elaine Spencer was answering questions. A lot of people were complaining about never getting an answer to their e-query letters. Elaine's response included this:

I have however noticed a VERY annoying trend. I receive many queries that seem perfect. I read the query, formulate a response, and reply. Then my reply is bounced back to me with a note asking me to submit my address to become an approved sender so as to alert the account holder that I am not a spammer. I do not have time for this. In these cases, again, a response inevitably is never sent.

Boy, is she singing my song. I get a fair amount of unsolicited emails every day. I receive membership applications for the Passionate Ink chapter, I receive emails from people who have read my blog, and I receive emails from people who have read my posts on other loops or blogs. I ALWAYS respond. However, every time I receive an automatic response, asking me to fill out an application, I delete it and move on.

This feels INCREDIBLY rude to me. YOU'VE sent me an unsolicited email and then demand that I fill out an application to respond???? What's up with that?

Years ago, when I was first starting out in the business world, there was an old ploy intended to establish oneupsmanship in telephone conversations. A person would have his secretary place a call for him. When the intended recipient of the call picked up the line, the secretary would say, "Just a moment for Mr. Jones," leaving the recipient on hold for a call he hadn't placed. Sometimes the recipient was left on hold for two or three minutes while the caller finished another phone call. Intended to establish who had the upper hand, it was was both rude and annoying. Unless it was the recipient's boss on the line, a lot of people simply hung up.

This email "application" nonsense feels like the virtual equivalent of that old power game. In effect the person with this filter on his email is saying, "My time is more important than yours. I'm too busy to wade through spam. Therefore, if you want to email me, you must fill out an application to do so."

Elaine is right. A lot of writers have these filtering mechanisms. I know. I run into this application process a couple of times every week.

On the average day, I pick up 250 spam emails. Fortunately 75% of them go into my spam filter and can be disposed of by one click of my "delete" button. I choose to hand delete the remaining 25% because if I set my spam filter higher, I begin to trap legitimate emails in the filter.

Is it annoying to wade through those 65 spam emails by hand every day? Of course it is. However, I prefer to do that than to risk deleting a legitimate email by accident.

Wake up, people. Even if you enter the agent's email address into your system when you send the query, you can't guarantee that s/he will use the same email address to respond to you. My agent uses a different email address to respond than the address at which writers query her.


1 comment:

Marie Tuhart said...


I'm with you about approved sender emails. They're the ones who emailed you first, and now they want you block you?

Like you I use spam filters and some do slip through, but it's easy enough to hit delete.

I would never force and editor or agent to become an "approved sender". You're right it is shooting yourself in the foot.