Today we have a reader question about referrals when querying. A reader asks:
I received an excellent review of one of my picture books from the president of a literary agency. She suggested that if I would like representation to submit it to one of her agents with her referral in the subject line.
It has been 3 months since I submitted. Would it be appropriate to “copy” the president in a followup email to the agent?
Thanks for the question!
The short answer is no – there is rarely a reason to cc an agent’s boss when you are querying. The only time I can think that this would be appropriate is if the agent was engaging in harassment or other unethical or fraudulent behavior. (But not answering a querying is none of these things.)
Three months for a query is long, but to be honest, it’s not that unusual. Even though at BookEnds our goal is to respond to all queries within six to eight weeks, I am constantly behind that goal. There’s just so much coming in and so little time.
And unfortunately, there’s also nothing that his or her boss is going to do to make an agent respond to you faster. Most agents autonomously build their lists according to their own personal tastes and what they think they can sell, and so the president/owner would not be that involved in an agent’s submission box nor worry about how their colleagues/employees respond to their referrals.
But to the agent you queried, it will feel like you’re trying to escalate something as if that agent has done something wrong that requires their boss’s attention. That’s not a great way to start your author-agent relationship.
In truth, a referral is great, but it’s never a guarantee of an offer. And sometimes, it’s not even a guarantee of a faster read, depending on what the agent already has on their plate and what they may or may not be looking for at that time.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t follow up with that query any differently than you would any of your other queries. If you’re looking for some templates, a while ago I did a post on how to follow up with an agent. But of course, the best thing to do is look at that agency’s submission policy and see if they’ve given a timeline for responses and/or any suggestions for following up.
I hope this helps!