I sent a submission to a wonderful agency in September and heard nothing. The email didn’t bounce back, or report as undelivered, so I presumed it got there safe and well. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t have a ping back email letting me know it had arrived but didn’t think too much of it. Perhaps, and very likely, they were inundated with email submissions.
Not wishing to pry, annoy, pester, or do anything at all to ruin my chances, I observed the rule of thumb and sat on them for two months. (Obviously sat on fingers as well, in fact sat on both hands to be exact.) Then did the same for another month just in case. I now have just sent a polite follow up, wondering whether it is still under consideration, and received a ping back message saying thank you. I never got this thank you before! Does this mean they never received my initial submission? Was that silence not the silence of careful consideration of my novel, but in fact the silence of never heard from me in the first place?
Nooo... *falls to knees sobbing, or at least would if not at real work and pretending to look Very Involved and Clever*
All those months of hoping... what if it never sent? What if now the only communication this agency has received from me is a polite follow up, with nothing attached? Will I have to wait another two months for their reply, which understandably will be What are you talking about? Will I now just look like a dumb arse?
Nooo... *beats floor with hands, or at least would if not at real work and pretending to Purse Lips at Important Document*
I am gutted. All because of a ping back email. Never under-estimate the power of the ping. So what can I learn from this?
One: When sending email submissions, if you do not receive an indication that your submission arrived then follow up and politely ask.
Two:Perhaps, and I know this is a shocker, but perhaps if there is no indication then another option is calling them to ask if it arrived. (Check their guidelines and make sure they won't automatically hate you for calling them though.) This submission might be my whole life, so to speak, but also should be treated as business.
Revised after nine comments
The thing about being a novice is that there is always something to learn, and the thing about blogging is that there are other writers out there who are willing to share advice from their experiences along the way. The consensus is have patience, my friends, no matter if you get a ping or not! Some shared good advice from the comments is:
Maria and Anne: The little nudge note could nudge your 'maybe' submission into a rejection (eeep!)
Christine: If you didn't receive an undeliverable message then your submission was probably safely receieved
Angela: Don't call - agents are busy and don't need anything else to add to their plate
So here is the revised guide of what to do when situations like this happen, when virtually you are rolling around the office floor in agony while the real you is Poised with a Brave Little Smile (which has no place on my face whatsoever, as I am about to click open an excel spreadsheet and those things should never be approached with a brave little smile but with a stoic Look of Doom.)
One: Read guidelines. Send email submission. Mark in diary correct date of when they say it is appropriate to contact them again (two - three months is usual). Sit on hands. Do not worry about getting a ping back email. Do not worry if it seems email has been sent into a void, fate unknown. Concentrate on next story and if you have heard nothing by the time the correct date comes around, send polite little follow up email. Sit on hands again. Continue submitting and querying elsewhere. If you really and truly hear nothing months later then it's probably safe to assume that the agency just wasn't the right fit for you and your story. Chin up!
Two: Just like there is no spoon in the Matrix, there is no Two.