Oct 4, 2010

New Query Guidelines!

After a thrilling weekend of being ill, the Coffey Crew has returned. We are slightly less dazed from medications than we were a couple days ago; we have had many cups of tea; we are capable of having Conversations of the Week that are not “Unnghh *cough* *sneeze*”; and we have news.

Starting Novemeber 1st, Nancy Coffey Literary will be implementing new query guidelines. *insert partying here* We’re particularly excited about change #1, and want to share with you now so that you have time to get excited, too! We’ll continue to remind you as the time gets closer, but for now, drum roll please:

1. President, agent, and all around awesome boss Nancy Coffey will be open to e-queries. She will continue to accept hardcopy queries as well. Don't know what she's looking for? Click here.

2. As of November 1st, all queries should be sent to our new email address: Query(at)nancycoffeyliterary(dot)com. BEFORE NOV 1 YOUR QUERIES WILL NOT GO THROUGH TO THIS ACCOUNT.

3. In the subject line, include the word “Query,” along with the name of the agent you’re querying.

4. Starting November 1st, we are switching to a “no response means no” system. That's actually not true. You always WILL get a response, as we'll have an automatic responder in place to let you know that your query has arrived safely in our inbox. If you receive an automatic response, and do not hear from us (either directly or through our Query Log) within two weeks, it means we will be passing. (It will state this in our automatic response as well.)

5. The rest of the query guidelines will remain the same; these are listed on our website.

6. We will continue to update our Query Log as well.

Again, these changes will happen on November 1st. Continue to query as per usual until that time. Also, this is your opportunity to ask any questions you have about the new query guidelines and we will make sure to respond to all questions by the end of the week. Please post your questions in the Comment section.

It was a grey and rainy Monday here in NY. And you know what’s perfect for grey, rainy Mondays? Reading. And you know what you should read? All the free books we’re giving away!

Haven’t entered the contest yet? You can do so right here. Quick! Go! Win books!


Anonymous said...

“no response means no”

Not something I'll ever get excited about. Ever.

Joanna said...

Dear Anonymous--

Clearly the excited part was aimed at Nancy Coffey accepting email queries for the first time ever.

As for the "no response means no" we actually WILL be responding that your query has been received.

Hope that clarifies.

Bish Denham said...

Thanks for the update!

Monica said...

Hey gals--just wanted to say I love the blog's new look. Cool!

SheilaJG said...

Anonymous - it also helps that they have a query log.

The thing I hate about "No response means no" is not knowing if you've been rejected - because some agents reply the same day and others may take weeks. Here, you can check the log. Which is exactly the same feedback you'd get from a form rejection.

Anonymous said...

I find "no response means no" to be the most crass, frustrating policies agents employ. I'm extremely disappointed by this decision.

Joanna said...

Dear Anonymous,

We appreciate your opinion and, if you'd be willing, I'd like for you to explain why you feel this way.

It would better help me not only understand your frustrations, but also to better explain our reasoning.

Thank you.

Em-Musing said...

Love the new look. Reminds me of my desk when I've spilled Red Zinger tea all over my papers. Re: New Query Guidelines, well, at least you'll let us know that you received our queries and we won't have to worry if they're floating in query limbo anymore. So I guess, OK.

Anonymous said...

For a mutually dependent relationship (the agent needs her author's ms to sell, the author needs the agent to sell her ms), the power structure between a querying author and an agent is completely one-sided. The author pursues the relationship with the agent. I do not find it unreasonable for the agent to in kind show professional courtesy and say that the query was not only received but reviewed and rejected (automated response or not, there's nothing else that can confirm for an author that the query wasn't lost after the fact--which does happen).

There is free software on the internet that allows a user to enhance her copying and pasting abilities. You can write a standard rejection letter (or multiple variations to cover the most frequent responses you may encounter [this isn't right for me, keep trying, look at our submission guidelines, etc]). CTL+ALT+# and you've pasted and sent your form rejection in a matter of seconds.

Even if our work is not to your liking, we are worth a couple of seconds.

Joanna said...

Dear Anonymous--

You bring up a point that I'd like to address thoughtfully. I will respond to it this week, but until then, I don't want you to think I'm ignoring your comment.

Matthew Rush said...

Love the new layout. Not going to get involved in the "no response means no" conversation except to say that while it can be really frustrating for us writers it does make sense, to me, that there is only so much time in the day and for agents who receive - literally - thousands of queries per week there simply isn't time.

Just one opinion. Looking forward to seeing more on your stance Joanna.

Joseph L. Selby said...

I know that software. It's called Clipomatic. With so many forms to create, transfer servers, and promote content live, a lot of the people in my department use it. Essentially, you can select ten (or maybe 20, I haven't taken the plunge yet) items as your "permanent" pasting items. Meaning, they stay on your clipboard even when you're copying other content or when you shut down your computer.

Effectively, you would have whatever items you want to be able to paste routinely assigned 1-10. When you wanted to paste a rejection letter into a reply email, you would hit Ctl/Alt/1 or Ctl/Alt/2 or whichever number you designate as your rejection letter and it would paste the entire thing.

We use it for our names, email addresses, and other items we routinely have to enter into launch forms.

Shallee said...

Thanks for the update! And I like the new look, too.

Anonymous said...

To be clear, ss this to say that all queries to Nancy are directed to her email address or all to any agent at Nancy Coffey Literary are to go to that address?

Thank you.

C Scott Morris said...

Thanks for the update! Joanna Volpe is high up on my list of agents I will be querying soon.
And to address some of the other comments, I am fine with standard form rejections. You simply cannot expect a busy agent to respond to each of the tens of thousands of queries she receives every year. Form rejections are part of the business, and are often a sign that your work is not worth requesting a full or partial, and therefore needs more polish. Even a form rejection communicates something. And two-week time frame is, in my opinion, quick enough to enable even the most impatient author to move on to the next agent.
Let me rephrase the, I will accept from Joanna only a request for full and a gushing offer of representation. Hey, I write fantasy, I can fantasize...

WhisperingWriter said...

Thank you for the update!

I'm with you on the grey days and reading thing. I love to curl up with a good book when it's cruddy outside. Granted, my three year old likes taking said book from me and running off with it. But still, sometimes she lets me get a few pages in.

Shelley Watters said...

Thanks for the update! How exciting that she's opening for queries!

On the No response=no issue. I think it's perfectly reasonable. I mean - you are giving a quick response time frame for interest (meaning that you read the queries and respond if interested quickly). I like this much better than the "if no response in 6-8 weeks then consider your self rejected."

On a side note - if an author has queried you and you rejected the query, then the author significantly revises the novel & the query (over months not days/weeks) - would you be willing to take another look at the query/sample pages or a no on a project is a no forever? If you will take another look, should they note in the query that they've queried you before and this is a severly revised version?


Anonymous said...

The email link you posted is curious. The text says to send queries to this email address:

but the link itself goes to this address:

Which one is correct?
Thank you!

NCLiterary said...

Good questions everyone! I've addressed them and more in the new page at the top of the blog Submission FAQ.

All except the last question about the correct email address--that was a mistake on the blog, it shouldn't have linked to the email address. It's been fixed. Thanks for pointing it out, Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for fixing that! And thanks for taking feedback on the querying process. Usually it's such a big black mystery hole to writers. You guys are awesome to be open to dialogue. :)

Anonymous said...

If I may, I'll get a caveat up front.

I'm an Idiot. I'm a male, so it sorts of comes with the base package. Take my words with salt and wash them down with derisive laughter :-).

'No response means no'. At the risk of being coloured a sycophant, I can only say I fully understand this. The only difference between a form rejection and a no-response-rejection is an email in my in-box to tell me to stop holding my breath. The path taken here is - two weeks. Hold your breath for two weeks. That's it. Then you can breathe. Cry, maybe, but breathe :-).

There. That's out of the way. Now - can I say thankyoutthankyouthankyou? Oh, and thankyou? The presence of an auto-responder that at least confirms my fingers manged to type the right email address and I got whatever title/ content rules are in place satisfied is great. I don't mean I like it, I mean great. Really, genuinely great!

If you've Queried Agent X and heard nothing, is that because they're staying up nights wondering whether to accept you? They're simply snowed under with incoming 'stuff'? Or because your Query was never actually received?

The auto-responder tells me I got there. The 'if you don't hear in two weeks it's no' tells me how long to hold my breath. As a workflow, as a planning process, it's simple, it's clear and so it works.

Well, it works for me. But then, like I said at the top, I'm an Idiot :-).