Pub Rants


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Since I’m on the topic of queries…

I’ve noticed an interesting trend lately of writers utilizing spam prevention tools.

Now that in itself isn’t bad. Goodness knows, I have two spam filters in place that save me from headache. Even with them, I still get ten or so emails a day asking me to be a partner in moving obscene amounts of money.

Really, it makes you wonder whether using the word Nigeria will automatically get your query spam-zapped.

Having a spam filter certainly isn’t my issue. I strongly recommend them.

No, what I’m having an issue with is the new spam prevention programs where the onus is on the responder to act in order for the email to be delivered.

For example, if I send the email (let’s say in response to a query), an auto reply will be emailed back to me in return. This email will state that if I want my email to be delivered (which more than likely contains my standard NO response), I must click on a link that will take me to a website where I have to decode a wonky font word into intelligible typewritten text and then hit a submit button.

Then my email response will be delivered and supposedly, I won’t have to participate in this exercise again with this particular email address.

So let me ask you this. How likely do you think it’s going to be that I, or any agent for that matter, will take the time to go through this process so my standard NO letter will reach you?

If you are thinking “unlikely,” you’d be right.

Which means a lot of folks aren’t going to be receiving a response from me. Maybe I should simply apologize up front right here on my blog.

Or I can offer a suggestion. Avoid this type of spam prevention if you are email querying. Better yet, perhaps you need an email address and inbox reserved exclusively for your querying—something that isn’t used for other business and therefore won’t get grabbed by the spam loops.

Most Internet providers allow you more than one address as part of the package and there are always the freebies such as yahoo and hotmail in a pinch.

Or you can go along your merry way assuming all agents are heartless non-responders when in reality we are simply caught in the world of Spamalot.

10 Responses

  1. doc-t said:


    Well that would explain why i havent gotten my rejection letter yet…

    Actually… on a serious note.

    how would you recommend someone handle such a situation… where they’ve sent in a query but a reply might have been cut off by filters…

    how does one find out in a way that won’t irritate or bother the agent?

  2. TomG said:

    I think your relentless nice-ness is showing. The snail-mail-only agents provide the disclaimer, up front, loud and clear, no doubt about it, that queries sans SASE will not be given even the incorrect time of day. I think many prospective clients like the strict agent guidelines – we know if we do X, then Y will happen (for better or worse) within Z time.

    I would like the same for e-submittal guidelines. Your submission guidelines could state unequivocally: “Agent will not engage in e-contortions to reply – more than two clicks to respond and your query will be bunged into a black hole in e-space.” Something nicer from the relentlessly nice, of course.

  3. Benny said:

    In a similar vein, I always wonder about agents who have personal-sounding email addresses on their websites. Or addresses that aren’t really even run through their site, but through, say, Hotmail. Not only is there the fear that your query will lost in the generic spam filters, but most people sign up for a free Hotmail account, which has such limited space. I suppose it’s a risk we take…

    What I’ve noticed is that two agents who have encouraged e-queries and who seem like lovely women have set their email up through Mind Spring (?), which sends an automated email back asking for your name and the nature of your contact. Apparently, you’re added to a safe list once the agent approves you, but that puts even more pressure on the ever-obsessive writer to come up with something flashy lest the agent be bored by your five word description.

    It’s a bit of a pain, if I’m honest.

  4. Martha O'Connor said:

    That’s what I hate about Earthlink and why I no longer use them for email–only for the DSL. Kinda like Bank of America~they suck but we’ve had them forever and it’s a PITA to change to someone else.

    Love the blog!

  5. Cindy Procter-King said:

    That type of spam prevention drives me bonkers, and I totally do not blame you for not going through the hassle. I also wonder about the grey matter of writers who query agents–either snail or e–include their email addresses and then DON’T check their spam filters to ensure they haven’t accidentally trashed an agent’s response.

    Thanks for doing this blog, Kristin. I love industry blogs; they’re very helpful.


  6. Marlo said:

    I can’t imagine who thinks the validation hoop dance is good idea. It only adds you to people’s avoid-them list.

    But you know what’s worse? I have submitted to several *markets* that wanted me to do it. And no, it doesn’t look any more professional or worthy from that side.

  7. Maya said:

    I don’t mind the “word verification” spam filters as much as the ones that say “My system doesn’t recognize you, and your email will not be sent to me until you fill out this application.”

    When all I’m trying to do is respond to an unsolicited email that was sent to me, I am offended by this approach and simply click on “delete.”

    I don’t understand how any person with good sense would set up their system to do this.

  8. Calluna Vulgaris said:

    This seems to me to be an extension of the ought-to-be-common sense dictate that if one is job-seekng, one’s answering machine message should sound professional. The cute messages and the hyper-vigilant spam filters can go back up once you’ve landed the acceptance.

  9. Wendy S. Delmater said:

    And spam filters do not endear certain authors to me when I send a rejection letter for their short story and it bounces. And they growl and query until I am (sometimes!) provided with a labor-intensive way to get the m off my back andout of my in-box.

    Oh, and just imagine I’d wanted to buy the story…

  10. Kim said:

    I have an email address that I created specifically for business purposes and I get at least 30 spam emails a day. It started before I had even given that address out. But most spam filters will allow emails from those who are in your address book. But I’ve added addresses to my address book, only to have the responder use a different address. It seems you can’t win no matter what you do.