Agency Lessons: email etiquette

Agency Lessons is a weekly post that gives authors and readers an inside look into the mind of a literary agent and a peek behind the curtain of how books are made.

Today's post comes from the mail bag:

Hello! If an agent requests a revise and resubmit, does that make the query a solicited query, or is it still unsolicited? If solicited, should it be sent directly to the agent's email address, or should it be sent to the general query email for the literary agency? Thanks!

Ah, all the minute details of querying that can send authors into an absolute tailspin of indecision and second guessing. 

First off, breathe and congratulations! An R&R is a great step. While, not yet an offer of representation, it is a sign that an agent saw enough potential in your work to take another look. It means you're on the right track and that's something to celebrate.

Next, let's tackle solicited versus unsolicited. 

When it comes to agents, this isn't a term we use. Either an agent is open to queries or they are not. The unsolicited business is used when we are dealing with pitches sent to editors at publishing houses. 

A pitch sent by an agent is considered solicited. This is how editors get the bulk of their submissions. An unsolicited pitch is sent directly from the author. Some houses are okay with this, others are not. If they state "No unsolicited queries", this means your work has to be submitted through an agent.

Now that we've got the definitions out of the way, let's tackle the real heart of your question. Where should you send your newly polished, sure to dazzle manuscript?

Your safest bet is always to send it back to the same email an agent used to ask for the R&R. For example, I respond to queries through the query email at our agency. However, when I ask for manuscripts, I ask for them to be sent to my personal agency email. So go back and look to see where that email was sent from and if there were any specific instructions.

If you're still not sure, just ask.

I promise that agents are not trying to destroy the tender souls of authors at every chance we get. If you send the agent a simple, polite email that states you are ready with the revised manuscript and want to double check where the agent would like it sent, the agent will respond with an address. Believe me, if an agent took the time to read your work, provide commentary and edits, and agree to read it again, she is actually interested and wants to read it. So an email to double check will not be a reason to squash your dreams and stomp on your heart.

This is really a great general rule to follow when it comes to agents. If you aren't sure, just ask. Now, I say that with a grain of salt. If the answer is clearly available on our website, your email will likely go ignored. But genuine questions are always welcome.