a place for those who don’t answer e-mails

More and more, I’m becoming convinced that people who don’t reply to e-mails should, after death, be confined to Dante’s Sixth Circle of Hell, right next to those folks who back into parking spaces.  Yes, I realize that e-mail etiquette is still a work-in-progress for society.  Yes, I realize that some people receive lots and lots of e-mails.  No, I am not expecting anyone to drop whatever they’re doing and rush to answer their e-mails as soon as possible.  No, I don’t mean replying to spam or trolls or handflappers who are obviously abusing their Internet privileges at the group home. 


What I mean is that if someone–especially in business–takes the time to write an e-mail asking a question or making a request, the least the recipient can do is get back to them at some point.  I bring this up because in attempting to publish and promote my young adult novel Dragontamer’s Daughters, I’ve e-mailed literary agents, book reviewers, newspapers and radio stations.  Most of the time, I get a response, either a “yes” or a “no” to whatever I’ve asked.  “No’s” don’t bother me: in book publishing, rejection is the default setting.  If you can’t handle rejection, you’re in the wrong line of work.


No, what bothers me is not getting a response at all.  Example #1: recently, I e-mailed a newspaper asking them whether they’d like to do an article on DTD.  After a few weeks, I hadn’t heard back from them, so I e-mailed them again.  I found out, not from the people I was e-mailing, but from someone who told me, that the article had run in the paper several days before I had e-mailed them a second time.  So I had pestered the newspaper (and looked like a doofus) because they hadn’t replied to my first e-mail with a simple, “Yes, we’ll run an article soon.”  That’s all I wanted from them.


Example #2: Last year, when I was submitting DTD to literary agents (which I’ll tell you more about later), one very prominent agency seemed VERY interested.  They asked for the full manuscript to review (always a good sign) and told me they’d get back to me in three months.  After three months, I hadn’t heard from them, so I e-mailed them: did they want to move forward with DTD?  No reply.  I e-mailed them again.  No reply.  I did some research on writer online forums and found out that for some agencies, including the one I had been dealing with, no reply means “no.” 


As I’ve said, I don’t have a problem with hearing “no.”  What I have a problem with is giving someone three months–during which time I did not send out DTD to anyone else, as per the agency’s request–and not even receiving the courtesy of a “No thanks.”  That’s all I wanted from them.  How long does it take to type that–3 seconds?  Yes, I know they’re busy.  Yes, I know they get thousands of e-mails every week.  But they had already invested time in me by replying when I had asked to submit DTD to them, and to reading several hundred pages of my manuscript.  Would investing 3 more seconds have been too much hassle?


Well, to the Sixth Circle with them.  And the people who make you wait while they back into their parking spaces.


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One Response to a place for those who don’t answer e-mails

  1. Moira says:

    Even more annoying is if you take the time to write out an email, nobody will read past the first sentence. I’ve buried phrases like “The first person to reply with (insert oddly specific phrase here) will get a candy bar of their choice” and most of the time nobody ever replies.

    People are irritating.